Register now for Spring and Fall 2017 Classes

View the class schedule and register online!

For MYC classes (ages 3 and up): Go to MYC – Gwen Higgins

For Music Pups® classes (ages 0 – 4): Go to Music Pups Castlegar


Studio News November 2016

Dear Students and Parents,
Here is the music studio newsletter for November 2016.

Composers of the Month

The composers of the month for November are Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann. Listen and read together with your child at Classics for Kids, here: You can also listen to the Classics for Kids shows via podcast. Do this activity sheet together: 
Holiday Music and Happy Birthdays

Next week I will start assigning Christmas carols and The Birthday song – essentials for every pianist. Check out Forrest Kinney’s “Beethoven in F Major” variation of the Birthday Song here: . Forrest Kinney wrote multiple variations of the birthday song, and you might be assigned one of them!
Practice Makes Perfect

Most of your child’s learning happens in between lessons through regular practice at home. At least, that is the intent. It’s probably not the reality all the time! If you need help developing a practice plan for in between lessons, let me know. Life is busy but a regular routine can help. 

Practice doesn’t mean doing all the tasks every day. Choose 2 to 3 items from the list. Perform a piece for Grandma, or play a game naming each note on the piano. Every bit counts, and builds confidence. Here is one way to structure your practice time:

Weekly Practice Plan for Beginner Students – Example

Day 1 – Lesson day

Day 2 – Choose one technical exercise, one piece from your book, and one theory (written) activity. Follow the notes in your lesson book for practicing. 

Day 3 – Review note naming (use flash cards, a game or app). Practice clapping and counting rhythms. Warm up with a technical exercise, then play a favourite piece from earlier in the year.

Day 4 – Sight read a brand new piece from your book. Clap and count the rhythms in the piece. Practice another piece from your lesson book.

Day 5 – Listen to the composer of the month podcast and complete the worksheet. Practice two of your pieces from the lesson notes.

Day 6 – Say the musical alphabet forwards and backwards three times. Make and use an alphabet die to choose keys to find at random, using this template from Colourful Keys: 

Play one of your pieces and sing the melody while you play. Make up your own melody and write it down.

Day 7 – Relax!

Sincerely yours,

Sunrise News, October 2016

Dear Sunrise Parent,Welcome to the Music for Young Children Sunrise program! Sunrise is an exciting and innovative music program that contains a variety of age-appropriate music and movement activities to allow children to experience the joy of music and develop musically through fun and play. The focus of the Sunrise program is rhythm and singing, and includes three progressive levels of 10 weeks each. By the end of the third level, students are well prepared to enter a keyboard/piano music program. Sunrise also prepares students to study other instruments because it provides a solid introduction to the fundamentals of all music: rhythm and pitch pattern recognition.

Each student receives a music kit containing a book & CD, finger puppet, and rhythm instrument. Please bring your music kit to class every week in your Sunrise backpack, including the crafts we make in class. Ask the teacher if you need a backpack – each student is supplied with one at the beginning of the music year. Replacement backpacks can be purchased for $11 each.

Keep this letter – it contains the class schedule of dates (see page 2), as well as contact information. 

Classes start on time. If the door is closed, that means class has started. Please enter quietly and join the group. 

Parents, you are a valued part of the class. Your enthusiasm provides an excellent example for your child and will help encourage them to participate! Do not be concerned if your child is shy at first. Many kids like to watch what’s going on before joining in. Even if your child is not singing, they are still listening and learning. Please join the teacher in the songs and activities and your child will soon follow your example.
Schedule for Fall Session 2016 – Sunrise classes

Sept 24 – lesson #1

Oct 1st – lesson #2 (change to original schedule)

Oct 8th – no class (holiday weekend, many families away)

Oct 15th – lesson #3

Oct 22nd – no classes

Oct 29th – lesson #4

Nov 5th – lesson #5

Nov 12th – lesson #6

Nov 19th – lesson #7

Nov 26th – lesson #8

Dec 3rd – lesson #9

Dec 10th – lesson #10
Sunrise 1: 9am

Sunrise 2: 10am

Saturday mornings at Castlegar Recreation Complex

Columbia Room

Sept-Dec 2016.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me by email or phone or speak with me after class.

Sincerely yours,

Gwen Higgins, MYC Teacher

For more information about our music programs, visit:

Email: Cell phone: 250-304-8921

New! Music Pups program for infants and toddlers

A lot of parents have asked if there’s a music program for infants and young toddlers, and now the answer is YES! I’m proud to be a brand-new Music Pups Center Director. This popular program is thriving in cities across Canada and the USA. The best thing about this parent-participation program is that siblings are also welcome to attend, making it a family experience. Students can continue on into the MYC programs offered at my studio.

You can read more about this fabulous program at Classes start January 2017. Stay tuned for schedule details. 

Studio News, September 2016

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer, and now you’re settled into the school routine. Here are some updates from the studio.

Registration Fees and Invoices

Your first invoice will include the cost of books and supplies (if required), plus one month of lessons. For MYC students, the cost also includes registration fees and a music bag & rhythm instrument. Invoices are payable by credit card (online) or by cheque or cash. 

Spaces Available

There are a few spaces left in the MYC classes. Each class needs at least 3 students in order to go ahead. Don’t wait – sign up today! Contact me for more info. If you are interested in Sunshine 1 for 3-4 year olds, or Sunbeams 1 for 5-6 year olds, please contact me.

Upcoming Dates

Week of September 19th: lessons start

September 24th: Sunrise classes start at the Castlegar complex

September 27th & 28th: lessons cancelled (Gwen in Vancouver)

October 1st: no lessons (Gwen at MYC conference)

September 30th: last day to register for MYC classes

November 1st: deadline to register for Royal Conservatory Dec/Jan exam session

Royal Conservatory Pedagogy Certification

I believe continuing professional development is essential for me to be the best teacher I can be. Lately I’ve been studying for the RCM Elementary Pedagogy certificate. In May 2016 I wrote the first exam for the certification. The results are in: 92, which is First Class Honours with Distinction! 

August 2015 Studio News; Choosing a Keyboard or Acoustic Piano

Keyboard or Acoustic Piano?

Not sure what kind of piano or keyboard to buy for your child? Many parents are afraid to invest in a professional-quality instrument for a child. Here are some tips for choosing the right instrument for your child and your home.

Acoustic Pianos

  • Acoustic pianos are beautiful and can be found second-hand for a song.
  • Just like guitars, acoustic pianos need regular tuning and care. Be sure you can commit to having it tuned at least once per year, and consider hiring a piano technician to inspect it prior to buying. 
  • If your child aspires to become a concert performer, owning or having access to a quality acoustic piano is more desirable.
  • Consider your living space: is there room for an acoustic piano? Will a piano annoy your neighbours in an apartment building? Is the room large enough for volume produced by a piano?

Keyboards and Digital Pianos

  • Digital keyboards are light, portable, and inexpensive. Beginners can get by with a keyboard for the first year or two. If you buy one, make sure it has full sized keys that are weighted and touch sensitive (sometimes called velocity sensitive), and at least 61 keys (five octaves). A full-size piano has 88 keys. The cost of a new keyboard for beginners ranges from $150 to $350.
  • Toy keyboards are not acceptable – they usually have small keys and lack realistic action.
  • Digital piano technology has come a long way. Better models closely resemble the sound and feel of a real acoustic piano. They have full size keyboards, and decent ones range in price from $800 to $5,000 and up. Second-hand ones can be found for reasonable prices, but be sure to test all the features first.

The three main advantages of digital pianos and keyboards are the ability to practice with headphones without disturbing others, they’re always in tune, and they are light and easy to move. If you have a shift worker at home or live in a small space, consider a digital model.