Playing a musical alphabet game is a great way to reinforce the concept of reading music. Younger piano students also love to do any activities ‘off the piano bench’, don’t they?

Alphabet Game for Piano

Teaching the Musical Alphabet 

One of my favourite piano games helps my beginner students to learn the musical alphabet using a set of foam letter blocks.

I encourage them to trace over the letters, put the letter blocks in the correct order, place them one at a time on the piano keys (having picked them randomly from my bag) octave by octave – students see how the letters can be read backwards through the alphabet.  These are only a few of the ideas that could be used.

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Posted in Music Theory, Practicing, Teaching Tips

We are excited to introduce the Music Teacher’s Helper Android app, now available in the Google Play Store. Free to download and use, this brand new app compliments the Music Teacher’s Helper web app. If you do not have an active Music Teacher’s Helper account, you can sign up for a no-risk trial here.

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

  1. Select the Google Play Store icon from your Android device.
  2. Click the “Search” function from the bottom menu.
  3. Type in “Music Teacher’s Helper”.
  4. Then click the download icon.

Also, you can set your Android device to receive automatic app updates. That will be the quickest and easiest way to get the newest features and any fixes implemented for your apps.

Why use the Music Teacher’s Helper app?

The Android app allows you to do many of the same 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, text, or email them from your phone.
  • View your schedule when not in front of your computer or laptop.
  • Add mileage right from your phone 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. Your students can also use it to record practice sessions (with a built-in timer) and check their lesson schedule and payments.

What is a Public Beta?

Initial launches of an app can be tricky. There are thousands of Android devices with different screen sizes. We are excited to get the app into your hands, yet we understand it may not be perfect immediately. We would appreciate it if you let us know of any bugs, or anything we could create in the app to help you manage your studio better, and save you time every day.

We also want to know what features from the site you want to see in the app next, so reach out with your vote. You can send feedback from within the app or get in touch by emailing us at support@musicteachershelper.com.

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

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

Reuben Vincent

5 Reasons to Sing!

November 6th, 2014 by

And there I stood! A shy, male, British, teenager!

Everything was conspiring against me. Especially my music teacher. Right then as he commanded me to “sing” I was thinking unspeakable thoughts of hatred towards him.

Why did I need to sing in the school choir? After all I was an instrumentalist. I’d managed to survive all these years of mumbling at the back during class singing so why did everything need to get so ugly?

And there I stood! The whole choir of immature boys and girls just waiting to poke fun at me. Why couldn’t I just run around the corridors naked? Surely that would be less embarrassing?

But he made me do it! Oh how I seethed with anger at the time. But when I look back now, he probably gave me one of the greatest gifts to my musicianship!

So why sing?

Reason 1: Helps You Express Yourself Better
When you can’t articulate into words what you mean to another musician, singing simply fills in the gaps. The more frequently you sing to express musical ideas, the more relaxed and “normal” this method becomes. I love to promote a safe environment in my studio where everyone feels relaxed enough to communicate through singing their musical intentions without Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

With this post, I’m going to start a short series of blogs on the theme ‘An Invitation to Performance’. I will be exploring performance as an action, a skill, and as something that every teacher should consider offering as an integral part of his or her teaching studio. As my students and colleagues well know, I can get quite evangelical about the importance of providing access to performance – in particular experimental performance (about which more later) — to all students, whether aspiring professionals or dedicated amateurs.

Performance offers us commentary on and access to a part of our musical self that no other medium can: it is the window into our true, communicative, musical responses, while at the same time being in the only venue in which we can observe or consider those truths. Performance is a lot of other things as well, things that my friends well know that I take great pleasure in discussing far into the wee hours. It’s a space; it’s a shared arena for action; it’s the special place where only musical things happen; it’s our only access to the creativity of our audiences.

I’ll be saying more about these and other ideas surrounding performance in future blogs, but for now, let me me start the series by banging a favourite drum regarding an effective practical option available to all music teachers who wish to give their students more access to the joys and intrigue of performance: the institution of the studio masterclass.

Making masterclasses work

There can be few experiences more stimulating for both music teacher and student than witnessing an expert performer working with a student in a masterclass setting. Once the hard graft of technique, musicianship, and style have been addressed, and once the many long hours of practice have been clocked, the opportunity for students to step out into the light of the concert hall and begin to experiment with performance under the expert guidance of a professional is an invaluable one. It is the crucial step between practice and performance, in particular, professional performance – in my opinion, the crucial step.

And yet, not all teachers make the space for masterclasses as part of the regular studio activities. Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Teaching Tips

“Students at any age will be encouraged to develop independence at the piano so that music can

be enjoyed on the bench for a lifetime.”

 The quote above is my longstanding mission statementGrowing “lifetime” pianists calls for meticulous planning, appealing music with a dose of  quality teaching and most importantly, an installation of strong technical skills and diligent practice habits. While reading the TeachPianoToday blog…. I was inspired by a post about a special welcome bag given to each new student. I thought this would be a great way to kick off fall lessons in my studio but instead give every student a “welcome-back bag”.  The idea of these bags becoming “practice pouches” made sense as practice is a habit that can always use a boost, especially after a summer break. Read more…

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

We made a visual to show the impact our users had on a recent Donorschoose.org Giving Page to benefit music school classrooms.
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Posted in Music News, Press

One of the biggest challenges students face when playing guitar is learning how to strum correctly.  They usually have a favorite song they’d love to learn how to play but when they sit down to try and figure it out it just doesn’t sound right.  Every time they try it, the strum sounds all herky-jerky instead of smooth and flowing.  Sound familiar?

Before we get started, be sure to open this PDF: Keys To Strumming, which I’ll be referring to throughout this post.  If you’re wondering what chords to play during this lesson, click here to use any to use any of the common-tone chord shapes I wrote about.

THE QUARTER NOTE BOUNCE

It’s fairly easy to teach a student how to play the quarter-note strumming pattern in Fig. 1 (Keys To Strumming PDF).  All you have to do is play a down-strum on every count (or beat). Every time you strum down, you count 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on.  But there’s really more going on here.  Once the down-strum is played, you have to lift your hand back up to prepare for the next down-strum, right?  This down-up movement of the strumming hand is more accurately represented by eighth notes.  Look at Fig. 1 again.  The arrows above the staff, hovering over each down beat and up beat, represent those eighth notes.  In other words, you should be counting “one and two and three and four and” as you strum down, up, down, up, etc.  This steady down-up strumming movement is what I call The Quarter Note Bounce. Read more…

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Posted in Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Recently, we asked a series of questions to over 300 students of Music Teacher’s Helper users. Today, we share some of that data, which is likely representative of most private music teachers. So please share with your peers.

99% said that their teacher runs their studio in a professional manner. We hope Music Teacher’s Helper has played a part in such an impressive number!

Keep up the great work!

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Posted in Professional Development, Studio Management

By Robin Steinweg

“Can I do the 100-day practice challenge?” Ava asked, her eyes wide. “If I do it, will I get my name in Piano Explorer Magazine?”

“Yes, and yes,” I said. Piano Explorer Magazine publishes names of students who complete 100 days, 200 days, and more. Read about it here: Piano Explorer

Ava and her sister Callie are two of my go-getters. Their assignment binders include a box to check for each day they practice. But from a free online site, I printed Hundred-charts for them so they can see their days accumulate.

About two weeks after they started, they challenged me. “Are you going to do the 100-day practice challenge?”

At first, I said no way. I play and teach several different instruments. I do daily lesson prep for a lot of students. I write music for some of them and for my choir. I’m working on… everything. But as I looked at their eager faces, I wondered how I could expect them to commit to what I’m not willing to do. Deep breath. I said “Yes.”

Each week they reported their progress and asked if I was keeping it up. I did so for nearly three weeks before I forgot a day. I had a great excuse. But still, I forgot. So I started over. I copied myself a new Hundred-chart. When I shared my failure with the girls, they were sympathetic and encouraging.

How long to practice each day? Occasionally I might get in an hour. Or I might make it through a song once. One day I was gone from early morning to late night. But in the car that day, I worked out some fingerings so that the next day, I had them down cold. I shared this with my students in case they’re traveling sometime without access to a keyboard. In a pinch, yes, it can count!

(I practiced every day!!!)

What to practice? Since PE Magazine doesn’t specify, neither do I. They can sightread, play a repertoire piece, work on their lesson, or learn something new.

Not the only way—I’m not saying it’s necessary to practice daily. This is just one possibility. Do you have any practice incentives going on?

Halloween practice

The excitement catches on with other students

Surprise benefit: I’m playing more for fun—rediscovering enjoyment—while before this 100-day practice challenge, I’d gotten into doing only what I “had” to do. Ava and Callie are progressing quickly. They are excited and motivated at lessons. And—

So am I!

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

All working parents have a challenge getting dinner on the table, but private music teachers have it especially hard when the evening hours are prime business hours. I’d like to explore a few ways to address this dilemma.

Most teachers do better if they take an actual dinner break, not just teach straight through. Less than 30 minutes is probably not sufficient. Be sure to tell your last student before your break that you are not available to stay after the normal lesson time and chat.  As we all know, the main thing that signals a student to leave is that the next student is waiting for their turn!

Many of the items in the lists below could be in every column; this format is just a way to be a little more organized about it. If you have a favorite freezer meal or crockpot recipe, please share it in the comments section below.

In the end it really comes down to three Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management, Teaching Tips