Calling all piano lovers.
Please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey about a new portable piano coming onto the market. Further details inside: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JT3DH7R
Thank you in advance. Your feedback will impact the design and features of this digital piano.
Here’s the survey link again: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JT3DH7R
Posted in Music & Technology, Music News, Product Reviews
Using Various Technologies to Provide Play-Along Recordings to Students
One of the things I feel very strongly about as a music teacher is developing the student’s ear – early, and often. I’m not just referring to the ear training exercises that most of us probably employ, but also using recorded examples at every possible opportunity.
I could write an entire post on why I believe this is so critical to the student’s success, and why I think audio examples and play-along recordings should be used constantly from the very beginning. For now, I’ll assume that most of you are already on board with this idea, and perhaps just need some ideas for HOW to provide recordings to students. Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Practicing, Product Reviews, Studio Management, Teaching Tips, Uncategorized, Using Music Teacher's Helper
For years, sight reading triggered personal fear and insecurity. I feared I would fail and felt insecure when I compared myself to peers who seemed undaunted by the task of reading new scores.
As I teach out of reaction to my own experiences and feelings, it is essential that my students become strong grand staff readers and overcome their fears of sight reading as I eventually did. Early readers develop solid skills with continual reinforcement; in fact, a great deal of reinforcement that I find dreadfully boring to include during lessons. Oops…probably shouldn’t have said that but it’s true.
Thankfully things have changed significantly since I was a child on the bench. Now methods to build AND teach grand staff reading skills are available on my favorite iDevice thanks to various developers. Yigal and Yuval Kaminka, the master mind developers behind Joytunes‘ latest app called Piano Mania have struck gold. The innovative, musical brothers recognized that humans enjoy winning and took advantage of the addictive tendencies of top-selling video games and paired them with essential reading skills for musicians to master. This combination coupled with appealing music and an elite technical team has created an unbeatable, magnetic AND educational app.
The app offers an elaborate system for building reading skills that benefit both students and teachers. Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Practicing, Product Reviews
Do you teach composition skills in your studio? Many teachers tell me teaching composition is something they would like to do, but never seem to get around to doing. There are many reasons given: no time, not sure where to start, student hasn’t shown an interest, not sure how to teach it.
I would not really say I “teach” composition, but more that I “encourage” composition. This is the level of intentionality that I have found to be comfortable for me in this area. Hopefully you can find one or two ideas for your studio in this blog.
The biggest help I have found is to start early, before the student thinks it might be hard! Composition grows out of improvisation, so I include improvisation at the very first lesson, and give it a little time every week for the first year. Just 3-4 minutes is enough to keep the spark alive. Emphasize that there is no “right” way, and that the student’s ideas are just as legitimate as yours.
There are so many ways to do improvisation with young children. Start improv on the black keys so that everything sounds harmonious. Model ideas for the student, and encourage them to listen for interesting textures and sounds. Make the improv tell a story. Sometimes I make up a story line that matches a Read more…
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music Theory, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips, Using Music Teacher's Helper
Online lessons and classes are an interesting trend in music teaching today. I’ve written here before about teaching by Skype, but just now I’d like to discuss the world of publicly available online lessons. Some are interactive; most use pre-recorded videos.
Online learning and teaching may not be suited to everyone, but it does allow a teacher to expand to a world-wide market, and allows students to get instruction that they cannot find locally, or just allows them to work at their own pace and at a lower cost than working with a private teacher.
I do not get the sense that there are tons of offerings online at this time — at least in terms of websites dedicated to teaching. YouTube is another story — just about anybody can make a YouTube to share their ideas and playing, and most of the online teaching sites put up numerous YouTubes as well. But for dedicated teaching sites, in the first few pages of searching, you can find about a dozen violin and piano sites, and half a dozen fiddle sites, just as an example, not counting offers to find local teachers, Skype lessons, or simple how-to’s.
What’s most interesting to me is that very few of the teaching sites are interactive. Most have compiled a teaching program out of step-by-step videos. Some offer them free; others charge a subscription that could be a one-time $30 charge or could be a monthly fee. Many have a blog, which allows the teacher to comment on information or events, and creates an ongoing interest in the site. Without direct interaction, though, the success of the non-interactive sites depend totally on marketing.
The interactive sites come closest to real music teaching. Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Teaching Tips
David Cutler wants to help musicians succeed in today’s world. An accomplished musician and composer himself, he has written one book to help musicians build a career and expand opportunities for income and outreach; and is working on a new book focusing on music teachers in particular.
The first book is called The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living & Making a Difference, and addresses a broad range of ideas relevant to musicians, such as how to create opportunity, how to make your work stand out, how to create supporting products, marketing yourself in today’s internet world, how to deal with the new paradigm for recording and selling music, how to better work with people, ideas for managing finances, and last but not least, musical ideas for improving your performance skills.
The new book he’s working on is called The Savvy Music Teacher, and seeks to aim music teachers towards an income in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, with vignettes of over 150 teachers – not well-known stars, but hardworking, typical music teachers – who have found ways to put together a workable and enjoyable career. Cutler hastens to point out that the specific income range is all relative – what may seem a lot of money in one place may not be much in another. But the book seeks to offer blueprints for helping readers craft sensible solutions that can add up to a good income.
Let’s take a look at some of Cutler’s ideas for musicians and music teachers, but first, who is David Cutler and where did he pick up on all these ideas?
Posted in Financial Business, Music & Technology, Product Reviews, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management
On November 15, 2009–four years and 13 days ago–I posted my first blog here at MusicTeachersHelper.com. I was thrilled to be selected by Ronnie Currey and Brandon Pearce to blog monthly for the site. Since then, my appetite for writing has grown exponentially which translated into my own blog 88pianokeys.me and now a book. As I’ve done my share of reviews for others, I hope you don’t mind if I now share an explanation–not a review as yes, it would be quite biased–about an accomplishment that also began in November–November of 2012.
Sitting next to “Bella,” my piano and inspiration.
After perusing my blog site, Philip Johnston–an author whose edgy approach has inspired me for years–encouraged me to write a book about using the iPad and apps. It turns out it didn’t take much nudging and over a number of months a book was conceived. Penning the content was the easy part, but finding the means to publish a book with a time-sensitive subject was the hard part.
Finally, in March of 2013, I met Tom Folenta. The easy part was talking him into publishing the book for/with me. The hard part: taking 12 chapters and building a book with a pleasing cover, some eye-catching graphics and that all important ISBN number.
Fast forward to the present. The easy part is expressing how ecstatic I am with my first, freshly pressed publication. The hard part is figuring out where to begin when explaining the cutting-edge features of this WebGINES Publishing Digital Series book. Let me explain in more detail…
Your purchase of the The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps includes these features:
#1: Physical Paper Back Book: $21.99 (+ shipping) PLUS a free copy of SimpleTEC Magazine AND all the additional features listed below.
Between the covers you will find information, ideas, insight and inspiration on integrating the iPad within every aspect of studio teaching. Yes, it’s called the iPad PIANO Studio, but teachers of other instruments will find the book beneficial as well. From those who are still contemplating the purchase of an iPad to those considered “veteran” iPad owners, there’s something for everyone. The chapters are concise with striking graphics and a fresh format so that information can be gathered quickly. You’ll follow my journey as I explored this slick device and along the way you’ll enjoy playing “I Spy” as there is plenty of name dropping (those who have inspired me) throughout the pages.
#2: Digital Edition: $17.99 (no shipping)
Posted in Music & Technology, Product Reviews, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips
This is a guest post from Richard McMunn:
Music teachers across the board are using mobile apps to teach their students via iPads and other devices. Apps are fast becoming a teacher’s tool for lessons and here are the top five apps teachers are downloading at the moment:
This app features five percussion instruments:
This option gives octaves through touch selection
Octaves and Hard and Soft Mallets through the touch selection
Octaves and Hard and Soft Mallets through the touch selection
Octaves and Hard and Soft Mallets though the touch selection
This is a unique instrument and is easy to play and hear via this app.
The app features 3D attractive graphics and helps teachers to master their touch skills.
Real Piano Pro
This app features a full-size piano feature. Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology
Last month I shared with you 5 Music Theory Tips (Part 1) that were quite technical, so this month it’s time for some fun theory teaching strategies. Please do feel free to share your own tips and tricks below as a comment.
1. How do you spell “rhythm”? – Well I guess I just did! However, someone once shared with me a simple way for young pupils to remember how to spell this potentially tricky, commonly used word. Just remember that: Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving! The first letter from each word gives you RHYTHM! Da da!
2. How do you organise dynamics? – Something I’ve noticed is that pupils often confuse the order of dynamics from quiet to loud, especially knowing where mp or mf fit into the bigger picture. A simple fix is to make up six flashcards with each dynamic and get the student to Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Music Theory, Teaching Tips
Thanks to a slightly skeptical nature, I’ve held little interest in virtual long-distant lessons for three reasons.
- Full Roster: My studio stays full thanks to living in a large metropolitan area so it seems pointless to look for online customers.
- Time: With the commitment of a full-time organist/pianist position, it would be difficult to squeeze in more practice time if I committed to lessons for myself–locally or beyond my bubble–with a master teacher.
- Trouble: Why would anyone wish to trouble shoot their way through an hour-long battle with camera angles, band width limitations and WiFi glitches?
My view of online teaching changed drastically thanks to a recent business partnership with master improv teacher Bradley Sowash and our venture called 88 Creative Keys (camps and clinics for creativity at the keys.) I realized that if I was to achieve a higher level of improvisational skills, it was paramount for me to study with Bradley who happens to live in Ohio. Not willing to make a commute from Colorado to Ohio every other Wednesday morning, it was clear I must submit to the “wonders” of technology yet once again. Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Teaching Tips