We are pleased to announce the new features and fixes last week.

New Features: 

  • The new and improved iOS app has been released. Click Here for more information.
  • We  will be releasing a new Android app within the next few weeks.

Fixes: 

  • Former student events are now being removed from the calendar.
  • Files on the resource page can now be opened.
  • The letterhead for the Overdue Invoice was scrambled. This has been fixed.
  • The Menu Error when using Safari on the iPhone has been fixed.
  • The Due Date was incorrect on saved invoices in the invoice history (1.0). This has been fixed.
  • The Edit page is now showing the same format on the homepage website.
  • Payments not entered into parent account has been fixed.
  • Invoicing 1.0 and 2.0: Flat fees were not reflecting on scheduled invoices being sent out. This has been fixed.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes, Site Announcements, Using Music Teacher's Helper

iOS app for music teachersWe are proud to announce that the newest update for the Music Teacher’s Helper iPhone app is now available in the iTunes App Store. A lot of thought, resources, and testing from current users went into this completely redesigned app that compliments the Music Teacher’s Helper web app. We’re confident you are going to love it. And it’s free to download.

 

How to download the Music Teacher’s Helper iPhone App:

  1. Select the App Store icon from your iPhone.
  2. Click the “Search” function from the bottom menu.
  3. Type in “Music Teacher’s Helper”.
  4. Then click the cloud icon with a downward facing arrow.
Appstore-icon

App Store icon.

If you already have the app downloaded, you will see an update available in the App Store. Go ahead and click update to view the new version.

Why use the Music Teacher’s Helper app?studentlist_app

The iPhone app allows you to do and view most functions as the web app version of the software. Here are some examples where the app could come in handy:

  • Easily add, view, or edit student information and call or email them with one click from your phone.
  • View your schedule when not in front of your computer or laptop.
  • Add mileage right from your iPhone before stepping out of your car (make sure to park first!).

There are many more reasons to use the app. Different teachers use it for different reasons.

We haven’t forgotten about Android! 

We are finishing testing for the initial Google Play Store release to support Android devices. We will make an announcement once it’s available.

We’re committed to releasing future updates, and ensure the app runs smoothly. If you have any specific feedback about using the app or encounter any issues, please email support@musicteachershelper.com. That will help us make the app better.

Also, please take a minute and leave a review at the App Store.

To check out the Music Teacher’s Helper iTunes page, click here.

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Posted in Music & Technology, New Features and Fixes, Using Music Teacher's Helper

In my series of blogs called ‘Getting Innovative with MTH’, I am sharing some of my favourite workarounds that help me in Music Teacher’s Helper for a ‘One Stop’ approach for all my studio needs.

 

Inventory

Inventory

Creating an ‘Inventory of Items for Sale’ 

I offer books/accessories to my students when teaching my lessons. This helps to ensure there is no delay in starting them with suitable material.

So I have created a way which works for me to keep a track of inventory purchases for sale within MTH.

Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper

Founder and CEO of Music Teacher’s Helper, Brandon Pearce, started teaching piano when he was sixteen years old. He soon realized he needed a better way to keep track of the finances, lesson progress, and schedules for his studio. Shortly after entering college to study computer programming, Brandon created a tool to help him do just this, with no intention of turning it into a business.

Other private music teachers saw the benefits of using the software Brandon had created for himself and asked to use it too. So Brandon made it available to other teachers. But he did not stop there. Using feedback from early adopters, improvements were added. The response was overwhelmingly positive and as a result, Music Teacher’s Helper was born.

One of our first website layouts!

One of our first website layouts!

From its humble beginnings in 2004, Music Teacher’s Helper has grown into a comprehensive studio management tool, spreading to over 14,000 teachers in 40 countries. We hear every week from users how the software has saved them time, money, reduced their stress, and increased the professionalism and organization in their studios.

Today, the company has over 25 team members, eagerly serving current users and working hard to play a part in the success of each and every person that uses Music Teacher’s Helper.

Current dashboard.

Current dashboard.

 

The Next 10 Years

Music Teacher’s Helper is dedicated to continue listening to our users, improving products and services based on that feedback, and helping them achieve their goals.

In the coming years, expect some exciting announcements. For example:

  • A complete redesign of the software taking into account everything we’ve learned in the past ten years, including feedback from teachers and their students with several upcoming surveys.
  • Further improvements to our website experience from mobile devices. Like a completely redesigned iPhone app launching this month & Android app coming shortly after!
  • More products and services to help teachers grow and manage their studios.

Music Teacher’s Helper will become more than software and is nowhere near finished making our products and community the best it can be.

A glimpse at what's to come.

A glimpse at what’s to come.

 

Thank You

To celebrate Music Teacher’s Helper 10 year anniversary, we want to thank the people that have supported us and helped create the amazing community we have today. From September 8th to October 10th, we will be holding two special online events:

1) Helping music classrooms across the United States: Please consider joining us in giving and sharing the music projects listed on our Donors Choose giving page: http://www.donorschoose.org/MTH.

2) A Facebook and Blog contest with BIG prizes: Details to come on October 1st.

Thank you to our loyal customers and we look forward to serving you the next 10+ years!

Please check out our Donor Choose giving page. 

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Posted in Site Announcements

updatesWe are pleased to announce the new features and fixes last week:

  • The new and improved iOS app is being released in a few days. Watch for our email when the new app is released.
  • We  will be releasing a new Android app within the next few weeks.
  • Invoicing ver 1.0- Due date set was behind one day. This has been fixed.
  • Invoicing Ver 2.0- Automatic Invoices: Invoices weren’t created. This has been fixed.
  • Duplicate parent records can now be deleted.
  • Teacher’s Website was limited to showing six posts. The number of posts showing are now unlimited.
  • The cell showing minutes is now larger.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes, Site Announcements

Guido of ArezzoGuido was having a terrible afternoon rehearsal with the boys! Try as he might they just weren’t getting it. They knew the words but they just couldn’t remember the shape of the melody.

“Arghhhh!” he thought, “it’s time I started looking for a new job, I don’t think I can take this anymore!”

And then it happened! As this frustrated singing teacher approached breaking point, he started to Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

This is a guest post from Sam Rao, founder and CEO of Practicia.com.

Adequate home practice has been a problem for as long has music lessons have existed. Music teachers would love to crack open the black box of home practice and see how much and how their students are practicing at home. The six days between music lessons are often a complete mystery to teachers.

Parents can be strong allies but more often than not, they are too busy just trying to get through the day to effectively monitor their children’s home practice. Some parents are willing to help, but often lack the necessary musical background to be effective.

So why don’t students practice? Reasons range anywhere from simply not wanting to practice to lacking the time management skills. Also, many students don’t remember what and how their teacher asked them to practice during the week. Among students that do practice regularly, many prefer to spend all their time playing through their favorite music often ignoring technique, which would lead to the most improvement in the shortest amount of time.

How have teachers traditionally dealt with these challenges?

They have employed a variety of strategies and tools to aid their students.  Some of these methods have been effective. One prominent tool is of course “the assignment book”.

Many teachers have given copious instructions in their assignment books week after week. While we would love to believe that students and parents would conscientiously open and follow all the directions given to them, we all know too well that that’s not the case.  Few students and their parents ever even open the notebooks. Among the few that do, many students often don’t remember the practice directions from merely reading about them. Since most parents are not at the lessons, they are often unable to understand what the teacher expectations.

Teachers also use several motivation techniques to get their students to practice. Some hold regular recitals and performance opportunities so their students are always “under the gun” preparing for the next big event. Others use practice charts to track their students’ practice and reward them with all kinds of prizes for milestones achieved. Prizes can range from candy and trinkets to outright cash! However, the problem with self-reported practice routines is that no one knows for sure if the students practice as much as they say they did. More importantly, no one knows how they practiced. So while many of these strategies can be effective, how can we improve upon them using technology?

Enter The Cloud: a means of storing and accessing data over the Internet instead of a computer, smartphone or tablet’s hard drive. How can it help teachers? Tools like Youtube allow teachers to create video tutorials so students and parents can better understand practice instructions. Students can also record their practice sessions and upload them for their teacher to hear how they are practicing. Tools like EVERNOTE enable a teacher to enter practice instructions on their smartphone or computer, organize them, and share with students. However, these tools are just the tip of the iceberg. The cloud and mobile devices can enable us to do so much more:

  • What if we can use cloud technology, through mobile devices, to effortlessly assign multimedia practice instructions to students who can then access them from their own devices?
  • What if we could track their practice, listen to it, and even comment on it?
  • How about creating incentives that would automatically drive better practice habits such as time spent with the instrument, consistency, and practicing all that is assigned to them?
  • What if all of this could be done from the comfort of our smartphone or tablet?
  • What if parents would be notified via email every time we issued a new assignment or new instructions on how to practice something? Or every time their child practiced? Or every time their child reached a practice milestone?
  • What if students, parents and teachers could share practice accomplishments on social media?
  • How about dividing a studio up into “practice teams” that competed with each other for practice honors?

Practicia (pronounced Prac-TIS-ee-ah) is an app that is currently in development that will attempt to do just this and much more. Information is available at www.Practicia.com.

Some teachers might feel a bit hesitant in exploring a technology solution to the age-old problem of practice. But consider this: most students already expertly interact with these devices. Most young parents also have access to several devices and constantly check their email and text messages. Teachers may find themselves pleasantly surprised at how cloud based applications could transform practice at their studio.

 

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

rules-and-regulationsWhether you are a new teacher building a studio, or a seasoned teacher gearing up for a new year, there comes a moment with every new student when you will need to convey information about your studio policies – what you charge, how to pay, what to do in case of illness, and how you handle cancellations.

These are the standard details that keep your studio running, and they become part of the working culture you establish with your students over time. They are also a set of rules that your students agree to abide by when registering in your studio- whether they realize it or not.

Following (and not following) the Rules

road rulesManaging your policies and distributing this information can be difficult. Even in the age of the studio web site, when policies are clearly displayed and usually have their own menu listing, they are rarely read in full, even by those who have clicked to say that they’ve understood your policies before booking!

What is more, policies vary widely from studio to studio, and even the most well-meaning students can become confused as they move from teacher to teacher or between institutions. Some students may not fully understand the importance of taking your policies seriously, or they may begin to relax the policies as your relationship with them becomes closer.

Nothing to sneeze at

smearIn my own studio, for example, my studio policies clearly state that my students must never come to a lesson when they are ill. This is a standard courtesy, but is made all the more important because I am also a professional performer, and will lose significant income if I have to cancel engagements. Nevertheless, a number of my students still do come to lessons with a cold, or the remnants of one, especially if they are in the run up to a performance themselves, or if they are preparing for a competition. I deal with this by sending them away – they are always shocked! And yet there it is in the policies on my studio webpage, which they click to agree to abide by every year.

Other teachers will find that new students often apply the ‘imaginary 24-hours notice policy’ when cancelling a lesson (does anyone actually have this as a policy any more?) even when their studio policy on their website clearly states that notice of a fortnight or a month must be given. Most teachers I know have much longer cancellation warning times (mine is 4 weeks to cancel without payment owing), and an increasing number of teachers I know only make up lessons if the teacher is ill, but never if the student is ill or has to miss. So there is a lot of opportunity for the culture of behaviour between students and teachers to get confused – one of the many reasons why we have studio policies.

So, how can we convey our studio policies in a way that will make students understand the binding nature of their agreement to work with us, without impressing too heavily on them a set of potentially alienating ‘rules’ that will make our relationship with them seem too authoritarian?

 

The ‘Welcome Letter’

letterOne of the ways I have dealt with this in my studio is to write a ‘Welcome Letter’ to students at the beginning of each new teaching year. Crucially, I provide these in hard copy, printing them out and handing one directly to each student as he or she comes in for the first lesson of the new year. I write them on computer, but I do sign each one by hand to emphasize the import personal nature of the contents for the student.

Why Welcome?

The Welcome Letter has four functions: 1. It clarifies some thoughts about the enthusiasm I feel about singing, and especially about working with my students on their singing in the coming year; 2. It reminds the students what it is that I aim to achieve with them in their lessons from a technical and interpretive perspective; 3. It clarifies the students’ role in the learning process and emphasizes how important it is that they stay active and engaged as part of the overall project of my studio; and 4. It forces students to review of my studio policies as part of our agreement to work together. Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management, Teaching Tips

Frankly, sophisticated apps like Practice+ can intimidate me. I prefer those that only have a few features that also seem extremely screen568x568-1intuitive. Although this enhanced metronome app was quite easy to explore, the multiple features had me wondering if this would be worth my consideration for most of my students.

However…after I experimented with the recording option, it dawned on me that this could be the PERFECT app for an adult student of mine who continues to struggle with finding and sticking with a steady beat.

As I played through a piece using the “Clave” metronome set to 8th note subdivisions–there are SO many options from which to choose–I recorded my practice with the metronome and saved it with an appropriate title and then listened to the recording, all within the same app. I was close to being right on with a tendency to be slightly in front of the pulse–typical of yours truly.

Since my student struggles to know if she is on the beat, this practice metronome with a recording feature could be a dynamite tool to help her finally secure a steady, strict pulse. By listening to herself practice with the metronome she could possibly (hopefully!) self correct her wobbly adherence to the beat.

There’s an option to email recordings which could offer my student a chance to send me a sample of her practice for feedback and encouragement from me between lessons. more

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Posted in Music & Technology, Practicing, Product Reviews

Kerri Green

To Mark or Not to Mark

August 31st, 2014 by

Marked Score

A few months ago, I joined a few piano teachers’ groups on Facebook. They have been a great source of teaching inspiration and have reminded me how many differences there are within our ranks as music teachers, even with teachers of great experience. A recent discussion has again sparked my interest in that basic teaching tool: the score and how we mark it to help our students succeed.

A score from a transfer student was posted: every fingering was marked as well as numerous note names. The score was cluttered with many section numbers, reminders and colors. The teacher sharing the score said that she prefers a cleaner score, with a student translating the necessary information from that mostly clean score, then asked the opinion of the group.

Here are some of the varying practices of the group:

1. Pencil only so they can erase scores before they send their students to an adjudication or competition.

2. Colored pencils or pens with a different color each week so it is clear what details were covered in the most recent lesson. Most of these teachers also advocate copying music before beginning study on it so that the copy is the one covered in color and the original score remains clean for judging purposes.

3. Eraseable colored pens so that both purposes of 1 and 2 can be achieved (i.e., colored to make notes more evident, but erasable for later so the score isn’t as cluttered.)

4. Different types of office supplies to help keep the score clean: Post-It tape so that the notes are removed when the problem areas are addressed, highlighter tape for the same thing with more impact,  removable red dots for specific problem areas.

5. Students mark important details themselves, often before study begins.

6. Important fingerings marked, as well as articulation, dynamics, phrasing indications, chord symbols, section numbers.

7. No teacher approved of every finger number marked in a score. The only note names that were agreed to be acceptable to be marked are notes that are continually missed or tricky ledger line notes. (I will admit that when I had an assigned amount of organ practice to do in college along with my piano practice, and when there were no organs available, I often sat in the hall and wrote every single fingering and pedaling into my score to count it as practicing. That was my almost-one-and-only stint of fingering every note, but I found it helpful enough that I tried applying the principle to the Bach Partita I was learning on piano and loved the exactness I felt as I worked through each measure so carefully.)

8. Something important to note for teachers of students entering festivals or competitions: none of us as adjudicators preferred a marked score from students. The rule should be clean copies only for judges, unless you would like the judges to immediately zero in on the offensive sections and be looking for the problem during performance.

I was interested that so many of the teachers in the pencil-only camp were quite passionate about their dislike for cluttered scores. As a student of many teachers who marked my scores with colored abandon, I must admit to a certain affection for those teachers and those lessons when I return to my multi-colored pages from years past (the picture at the beginning of this post is one page from college.) I never imagined that so many people would consider these rainbowed scores to be inconsiderate or offensive! Many teachers in the group mentioned a similar affection for their scores from previous study, especially when marked with effective fingering and inspired instructions. I now have more respect for the other viewpoint as well, but I think I am set in my bright and colorful ways.

What are your score marking principles? What are your students responsible for marking? (Mine are supposed to mark section numbers, important fingerings, and in a perfect world, chord symbols.) What are your most common markings? (Mine are a phrase tapering mark, fingering, chord symbols, and articulation. And lots of rainbow circles around dynamics, etc.)

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Posted in Teaching Tips