Yiyi Ku

Recital Gift Ideas

April 22nd, 2014 by


Personalized Graduation Bears I gave to my students last year

It is upon us once again! I am talking about studio recitals to celebrate the end of the school year. I normally do this in June. My fellow bloggers on Music Teachers Helper and I have talked about recital planing many times in the past.


There are many benefits for holding studio recitals – motivation for polishing repertoire, opportunity to gain performance experience, recognition of student achievements, studio promotion, and social gathering of friends and families of the students. It is a lot of work to organize a recital, but as many of you will agree, the end result is well worth the effort.

In this post, I would like to talk about recital gifts. I give students a little something at the end of every recital. In the past I have given trophies, medals, pins, certificates, personalized Christmas ornaments, hand-embellished soft toys, and treat bags containing all sorts of goodies. I try not to repeat myself, so it is getting harder to come up with ideas! Read more…

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Posted in Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management

onlinenotesI’m trying an experiment in online teaching — live classes.  If you have tried these and would like to discuss them or have questions, by all means, leave your comments below!

Live classes are different from online private lessons.  Private lessons have their own differences from in-person lessons, but I’ve discussed this in another post, so I’ll focus here on online classes with multiple students.

If you consider doing this, here are 10 questions you’ll want to take into account as you make your plans.  I’ll also mention some ways I’m dealing with it.  I’m not saying my approach is necessarily best, or even that it’s what I’ll end up with, but let’s consider it a work in progress… read on for 10 questions to get your thoughts in gear — Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

20140414-102115.jpgWhat a great time I had at this year’s MTNA National Conference in Chicago. This was my third MTNA National Conference. The biggest highlight for me was certainly having the opportunity to present a Showcase session for Music Teachers Helper! It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed sharing my tips. It was also great to meet many people afterwards at the booth. Many people said they were already using Music Teachers Helper, and I was glad to be able to answer some questions regarding various scheduling and billing features. If you missed the showcase (there was an iPad giveaway!), you may like to check out the presentation slides I created (minus the fun animations and transition effects).

If you are a regular conference attendee, you no doubt know that at any given one time, there are usually many different sessions going on at the same time, sometimes as many as 9! This makes it very difficult to choose what session to attend! This year, I made a point to attend different sessions than the ones I normally would have chosen. I also made a point to meet people whose names I recognize. I made new friends, including MTH Marketing Director, Andrew Nicoletta and fellow MTH blogger, Leila Viss. It was also very nice to take a mini vacation from my usual teaching routine. :)

One trend I have noticed at recent conferences is the celebration of original compositions by living composers. At the 2012 Conference in New York, I heard the east coast premier of Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Two Pianos, Op. 117 – with Liebermann himself in attendance! At the 2013 conference in Anaheim, CA, the opening concert by the Ahn Trio included many works by contemporary living composers, commissioned by the trio. This year, I attended the session “From The Pen to the Premiere” for the first time, and heard beautiful new chamber music commissioned by MTNA Collaborative Commissioning Project, featuring new trios by acclaimed American composers Phillip Keveren and Wynn-Anne Rossi.

Both trios encourage the study of chamber music that is accessible to intermediate level musicians. Skyscraper19947241 by Wynn-Anne Rossi is a trio for clarinet, alto saxophone and piano. Petite Voyage by Phillip Keveren is written for trumpet, trombone and piano in F Major.  You can read a full review of Wynn-Anne’s Skyscraper here. I think this is a wonderful initiative of MTNA, to commission new works by composers of our time. This is definitely a session I will be attending in future conferences, and next time, I am going to get autographs of the composers I meet to show my students (thanks to a new conference friend, Melody Lee Stroth for that idea!)

If you have read some of my previous reviews, you already know that I am a big fan of Wynn-Anne Rossi’s works! I finally got to meet her in person, and she is just like her music – full of spirit, creativity, light, and positive energy! I attended her session for one of Alfred‘s three showcases, and it was so much fun to hear her talk about her new series “One of a Kind Solos.”


with Alfred composer Wynn-Anne Rossi at MTNA National Conference in Chicago

This new supplementary series comes in four books, from Elementary to Intermediate, and represents a personal journey with music. Wynn-Anne talked about where she got the inspirations for some of the pieces, and how she was trying to think of things that were meaning to her when she was a kid. Each piece has a story behind it, and challenges the student with musical as well as technical surprises such as odd meters, unusual modes, and various pianistic devices. Here are some examples: Read more…

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Posted in Product Reviews, Professional Development

yahooWe appreciate your continued use of Music Teacher’s Helper services, and want to assure you that your satisfaction is our highest priority. Recently, Yahoo.com implemented a policy change on their email servers that immediately affects not only all Yahoo email users, but also third party email servers such as Music Teacher’s Helper.

Yahoo has changed a single setting on their email servers that prevents MTH and similar list servers from sending an email message that says it is from a Yahoo email address, unless the message is sent using Yahoo’s own email servers. What this means to you is that, when MTH sends out emails, such as invoices or lesson reminders, these messages are being rejected if the teacher is using a Yahoo email address.

Other companies are reacting by suggesting that Yahoo email addresses simply be banned from participation in mailing lists, or asking users to change to different email service providers. We at MTH appreciate that this is not an option that everyone will be happy about, and we certainly have no desire to ban users simply because of who they use for email services. But, for the time being, we encourage you to use another email service provider instead of Yahoo.

The fix for this on our end is not particularly difficult, but it is not quick to implement either. The main option we are looking at right now will change how emails from Yahoo users appear when they are received. We will update you with the details as changes are made.

If you are interested in learning more details about the change that Yahoo has made, a good place to start is


We appreciate your patience while we address this issue.

Ken Rhodes
Senior Customer Service Rep
Music Teacher’s Helper.com

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Posted in Customer Support, Site Announcements, Using Music Teacher's Helper


We have many different training webinars this month, including Settings, Student Management, Calendar and Scheduling, Fees and Invoicing including a look at the new invoice system to be released soon, Website Features (the pages listed on the Website dropdown window), Reports, and Affiliate Basics.

Go to webinars.musicteachershelper.com to register for a webinar, or watch a previously recorded session. Because each webinar holds up to 25 participants, you need to act quickly to register as they fill up quickly.

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Posted in Customer Support, Using Music Teacher's Helper

Playing the Blues“Can I hear your progress on that song we were working on last week please?”

He just shrugged his shoulders and looked at me sheepishly!

“Oh okay then. How about those exercises we were doing? Can I hear how you got on with them?”

He just looked at his feet!

“Oh dear! What HAVE you been practicing?”

Suddenly a mischievous grin appeared on his face.

“I’ve been playing the blues ALL week!!! It’s been driving my mum crazy. I play it before and after school. I can’t stop!”

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun students have at learning to improvise the blues. And not forgetting the kudos it earns them when they can use it to entertain friends and family. Best of all, it’s just so easy to learn!

So this month, here are some free resources to get you started or to add to the ones you use already. I’ve tried to make the sheet music universal to whatever instrument you play or teach (treble & bass clef/guitar & bass tab). I’ve also recorded a slow blues backing track (in G) that you and your students can “jam” with.

Introducing the coolest scale on the planet! Whatever instrument your student plays, they will love learning the Read more…

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Posted in Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

The Blank Stare.

blank stareWe dread it, but we’ve all seen it: the face that tells you unequivocally that your students are lost and haven’t got a clue what is going on. This can happen suddenly, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. Picture this scenario:

My lesson or class has been rolling along smoothly, and I’ve felt encouraged by the odd head nodding, or some gentle smiles tentatively creasing passive faces. I’ve smiled myself, warming to my subject, and then I’ve taken the fatal step.
                ‘And that’s how we know that the composer is modulating!’, I swoon. ‘She’s been hinting for the last two systems with those occasional B-flats and now we know from this arpeggio followed by the cadence: we are in F-major!’. 
                My revelation is met with silence, which is not what I expected. A hand shoots up, breaking the still pool of now immobile faces. ‘Why is it F-major and not F-flat major?’.  
                What?!’ I think, and try not to frown.  ‘Can you explain what you mean?’, I say.
                ‘I thought you said those were the “flat keys”, so why isn’t it F-flat major?’.
                ‘Because F isn’t flat,’ I reply. 
                Faces go blank and a thick pause of unknowing oozes across the classroom. Heads drop and a faint voice cries into its sleeve, ‘I don’t get it!’ and (since this is the film version) all the desks start shrinking backwards away from the teacher and disappear into a black abyss at the back of the room….

“Unknown unknowns”

ha ha i don't get it tshirtIt would be my guess that every music teacher reading this will have experienced at least some version of this same scenario. It can happen with children, teenager, or adult students, and, although it looks like the moment of catastrophe was caused by what I’ve called ‘one fatal step’ instructionally speaking, of course, these scenarios represent a series of moments of unknowing coming to a head. The student who asked this question (and it is a real question asked me in a class just last year) must have experienced many moments in previous classes when he hadn’t understood what was going on but hadn’t said anything. At the same time, I will have been happily piling concept after concept on top of this student without realizing that he hadn’t understood what was going on.

How can it happen that we sometimes unwittingly leave our students behind? And is there anything we can do to help those students who find the theoretical side of music difficult, or are some people simply ‘more musical’ than the others, who will always at some point get left behind? Read more…

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Posted in Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

StaimezI have used MTH for more then a year now and I can’t imagine going backwards and managing my music school without it. From easy billing, invoicing, scheduling, automatic reminders, lesson notes and many other features – MTH does it all for you. I used to spend a lot of  time keeping track of all payments and schedules on my own, but now with MTH things are so much easier, literally saving me hours and hours needless work every week. With MTH All of my studio records are now in one place and accessible with a click of a button.

In addition, the parents of my students are constantly giving me compliments about MTH as they are now receiving their weekly lesson notes over email and in addition can login and check their schedule, payments and more.

Last but definitely not least, MTH customer support is great – they helped me get started with the program in no time and always provides prompt response to any issue. Bump up your teaching business to the next level with Music Teacher’s Helper!”

Moses “Mostai” Staimez

Guitar and Piano Instructor
Atlanta School of Musical Arts
Cell: (404) 490-5391

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Posted in Using Music Teacher's Helper


Yes, Yiyi, is just as nice in person as she looks in a pic!

I’m still catching up on sleep after my return from the Music Teachers National Association Conference in Chicago. Attending dynamic sessions, and intense meetings, hanging with favorite peeps from around the nation, meeting Facebook friends in person and of course enjoying scrumptious meals took their toll on my sleep patterns. At the same time, what I absorbed will provide that much needed energy to reinvigorate my teaching.

Before I share more about my unique experience and the reason behind the title of this blog, here’s a couple of things I wish to mention.

Music Teachers Helper at MTNA

First, Music Teachers Helper should be proud and pleased with Yiyi Ku’s presentation on the terrific features of MusicTeachersHelper.com. This important tool has become irreplaceable to me. I’m sure those who attended Yiyi’s session learned what they were missing and signed up thanks to her comprehensive coverage of this online, savvy assistant.

The Full Scoop at MTNA Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music News, Professional Development

Tomorrow, April 2nd at 2p.m. eastern time, we will be holding our first affiliate program webinar. We will be going over the basics of the program – how to sign up, promotion options, and best practices. It’s open to anyone, and you do not have to be a current Music Teacher’s Helper user, or signed up for the affiliate program.

You may click here to sign up or future webinars.

You may click the logo to sign up for future webinars.

We will have actual examples of good and bad promotion techniques. If you are interested in making money by promoting Music Teacher’s Helper to your peers, or have already signed up but are not sure where to start, this informational webinar is perfect for you.

Andrew, Music Teacher’s Helper’s marketing director will answer questions related to the affiliate program at the end of the webinar.

You can sign up here for this webinar. Also, check out any of our other training webinars, including recordings, on using specific parts of the software.


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Posted in Affiliate Program