Selecting the right piano teaching method can be a daunting task, especially if you are a brand new piano teacher. There are probably as many piano methods as there are piano teachers to teach them. So how do you know which one to use? You could choose a single method to teach across the board – all new students start with the same materials. Or, you could find out what each student wants to learn and choose a method for them individually. Chances are, after a few years of trial and error, you will find a method that you truly feel comfortable with and very much enjoy teaching from. Maybe you’ll even write your own! Regardless, here are a few piano methods that I enjoy teaching from.
John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano. I love this piano method, for several reasons. First, it’s the method that I learned from as a little girl. I was so excited when I got to play from the big red book! It brings back many fond memories of piano lessons. Of course, given my age, you might not think of it as being all ‘that’ modern, but that’s the name of it.
In all seriousness, this method is my go-to method for students who want to learn classical piano. It contains great directions for classical technique (think wrist staccato and drop and roll) as well as many classic style pieces that every budding pianist needs to learn. Book 1 is great for the late elementary school student who has had some music experience at school. For the younger beginner, check out Teaching Little Fingers to Play, which is a great introduction Read more…
Posted in Product Reviews, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips
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Incorporated into magazine adverts, posters, flyers, packaging, menus and even on vehicles! What are they?
Quick Response codes or QR codes for short!
So what are they and how could they possibly help a music teacher? Read more…
Posted in Music & Technology, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio
The Music Teachers National Association conference is held every year at different locations throughout the US and Canada. This year it was held at Disneyland (nuts!) and it was magical. The reason I say magical is that it seems the tides are changing. Here’s how my colleague and business partner, Bradley Sowash called it:
Bradley unlocking the secrets of chord symbols. His tips are incredible!
I’ve just returned from the Music Teacher’s National Association conference in CA where I was fortunate to serve as chair of the jazz/pop track along with project manager Leila Viss [that's me]. I’ve been swimming upstream on the subject of teaching creativity as a necessary ingredient to comprehensive musicianship at music teacher meetings all over the country for several years. So it was with particular delight to find that we could attract a packed room of teachers for nine hours of sessions with experts on the subject of teaching popular music styles, improvisation and creativity.
It seems the old model of only teaching the “masters” using only the written page is finally giving way to a more balanced approach or as someone at the conference quipped, “the Queen Mary (of music education) is slowly turning.” I can get even more dramatic by declaring, “The eye/ear revolution has begun!” Read more…
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music News, Professional Development, Teaching Tips
The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Annabel was the most talented pianist I’d ever taught. A complete beginner at seven, she had progressed within six weeks to being able to play fluently with both hands and, while I was away on tour for a few weeks, completed the first piano book on her own. Her hand position was naturally good and her aural skills were outstanding. She could also sight-read expertly. I was delighted with her progress on my return… and therefore somewhat disappointed when she announced halfway through Book 2 that she didn’t want to have lessons any more. She didn’t hate the piano- she just wasn’t particularly interested. She already played violin, was studying German and excelling at school, so reluctantly her parents and I agreed that she could discontinue her lessons.
But her decision intrigued me, and brought up a lot of questions. Read more…
Posted in Performing, Professional Development
The average time spent on a website is less than 60 seconds!
How can we, who have a website, possibly hope to engage with our audience and encourage them to want our services? There are some basic marketing techniques that can help our virtual “shop window” look attractive and encourage potential customers to “step inside.”
Put Your Feet in Their Shoes
The most effective way to present ourselves is to consider what information prospective clients want to know. Give them this information quickly and easily and their experience on your website will be satisfying. What do they want to know?
What instrument/s do you teach? Where are you located? How much do your lessons cost?
Think for a moment how frustrating it is when you look at a product for sale that doesn’t have a price tag, you can’t work out where a company is located or what exactly it is “they do!” You can see how important it is to clearly state your
Posted in Financial Business, Music & Technology, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Using Music Teacher's Helper
Photo by bingbing
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Henry Ford
“I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.”
I’ve recently started practicing again. Having a chronic health condition means that there are periods of time when it is difficult for me to practice the piano, although I used to be a concert pianist. I look back ruefully to times as a child when I was obliged to practice and didn’t feel like it. How the time would drag! Read more…
Posted in Performing, Practicing, Professional Development
I recently started using a plugin for Gmail called Boomerang. This has been a great asset in managing my Inbox. Boomerang allows you to do multiple tasks;
1) Write an email now and then send it at a later date.
2) Schedule reminders so you don’t lose track of important emails in your Inbox.
3) Send reminders if you don’t hear back from someone on an important email.
Posted in Customer Support, Financial Business, Music & Technology, Professional Development, Studio Management
Dear Piano Student,
There are mornings when the alarm goes off at 5:45 that I wonder what on earth I’m doing with my life. Why would any person think it wise to open her house at 6:30 to a tousle-headed second grader wearing pajama pants and a yawn? What unsuspecting college student, spending four hours a day in a practice room learning to play gossamer threads of Ravel, imagines that one day she’ll say, “Let’s check that half note! Remember, half notes get how many counts?” over and over and then over yet again? What budding teacher plans on teaching one (or three) of those students who start each lesson with “It was a really busy week. My mom said I couldn’t practice last night and I had a baseball game the night before and I was busy on the weekend so I don’t really have anything to play for you today”?
When I took that first student for $5 a lesson more than twenty years ago, I couldn’t imagine the events I’d experience. There was the boy who spread out facedown on the floor of the piano lab, refusing to enter the studio for his lesson. Read more…
Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips, Uncategorized
There is no question that it is far easier to hang on to current students than it is to go find new ones. This is true with just about any business venture – it pays to invest in keeping your current customers. It is less costly and easier than trying to constantly find a steady stream of new customers. If you’re teaching in a busy music store, this may not be as important to you, especially if you have a steady stream of new students coming through the store and a long waiting list to pick and choose from. But if you’re like me, you value each and every student in your care, not just for the money, but most of all for who they are and for the relationship you have developed. While some students will inevitably come and go, some will stick around for a long time if you treat them well. Here are a few suggestions for hanging onto your current students. Read more…
Posted in Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips
Happy New Year….Here I am with more adventures and lessons from the world of the teacher-as-student.
Last post I shared with you some great insights from my singing teacher, Renee Sousa, on practicing and overcoming resistance.
Well, I learned that valuable lesson only to discover that resistance is a tricky, sneaky monkey.
I took a trip to see my folks in North Carolina for Christmas and had all kinds of plans to practice my arias and get ready for the auditions for the LA Opera Chorus that were coming up this month. I had also told Renee that I was planning to audition.
Then the following monologue ensued in my brain over the course of the holidays: “You’re not ready for this. You will get in that room and crash and burn. They will figure out that you are an opera phony. You are already doing great in musical theatre. Just stick with what you know. What if Broadway calls? Opera is a such a niche subculture market anyway. Is that were you really belong? And can you seriously see yourself singing in a real opera house? You’re going to be discriminated against from the get-go once they see that you were in Phantom of the Opera and never in an actual opera.”
You get the idea. So the fourteen times that I saw, “Set up LA Opera audition appointment” on my to-do list, I simply didn’t set it up. I was afraid. Read more…
Posted in Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips