Article on Alfred Music Blog

Tips on Fostering Music for Life

 

 

My June article submission Learning Music in a Quick-Fix Society: 7 Tips to Foster Music for Life for the Alfred Music Blog is now live. Here’s a sneak peek:

The quick fix. Today’s society thrives on doing things bigger, better, faster. Timers are placed in fast-food drive-throughs, crash diets are a dime a dozen, and recipe videos are on fast-forward.

Music teachers may find themselves continually reminding families that learning an instrument is not just a summer or semester-long activity but an ongoing process that requires dedication, determination, and grit. Gentle conversations may occasionally be had regarding realistic expectations such as “no, playing Beethoven’s Für Elise is perhaps not an appropriate piece for a first-year student to be learning quite yet.”

Having information available at our fingertips in an instant has made it hard to not expect everything in life to function in the same way. Today I’m going to share with you seven ways we as music educators can create an environment for our students and families that fosters a sense of “music for life” in a society that values quick learning and information gathering.

Continue reading this article on the Alfred Music Blog.

 

If you’re interested in checking out other articles I have written on Alfred Music Blog they are:

 

On Playing By Ear: Contributor on Piano Picnic Post

Recently I was asked to contribute a few thoughts on playing by ear along with my favorite ear-training exercise in a post on the New Zealand-based blog Piano Picnic. 

Other contributors include Jennifer Foxx, Tim Topham, Nicola Canton, Christopher Sutton, Sara Campbell, and more.

Check it out.

Candy Jar Contest Printable

Building community within our studios is an important part of both growing our studios and also maintaining and marketing to the students and families we have.

The term “community” can be defined as:

A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Our studio students aren’t going to get feelings of fellowship by simpling coming in and out of a solo piano lesson week after week.

There are a variety of ways we can build community into our studio offerings including group classes, recitals and more (see the Varsity Musician’s Playbook Series).

Sometimes though, it can be even simpler than that.

Enter the candy jar!

Continue reading

Germ-Alert Season

A Studio Teachers Guide to Staying Healthy

Getting sick.  Ugh. The only good part of being sick is you can watch endless episodes of your favorite show while wallowing in your misery on the couch at home.

Otherwise, it’s the nemesis of every teacher. Why? Because it’s more of a pain to catch up on life than it is to simply have a normal day.

The flu is running rampant this year. Twenty percent of my students canceled last week from either being sick or having a family member sick (in which case they didn’t want to spread it around-thank you!).

Yes, getting sick as a teacher is often the result of exposure to so many students every week. More so than that, though, I’m more likely to get sick when I’ve not been taking care of myself. That could be lack of sleep, stress, or getting out of the habit of physical activity and/or taking daily supplements.

Today I want to share a few ways we can be proactive in our studios and with our personal health – especially during the winter months when we’re on high “germ-alert.”

*Disclaimer: All advice and opinions posted here are simply from my own experiences. I am not a health professional nor do I claim to be.

 

Clean Environment

Keep your studio and teaching area clean. Regularly clean areas touched by students including door handles, computer keyboard and mouse, and of course the bathroom.

Clean Piano

I’ve never had luck with remembering to enforce this, but having students wash their hands with soap and water before coming to the piano would be ideal.

Avoid hand sanitizer as it has been proven to be less effective than good old soap. I’ve also been told (by my piano tuner) that hands covered in hand sanitizer could possibly cause cracks in the piano key surface. The same goes for antibacterial wipes.

Keep it simple. Stash a cloth nearby and regularly wipe down the piano keys. A cotton cloth very lightly sprayed with a vinegar-water mixture would suffice or try a cleaning cloth such as the Guardsman dusting cloth. 

The Guardsman cloth is a wonderful, gentle cloth that won’t scratch your piano and has a very lightly tacky surface that is brilliant at collecting the dust. Find them at your local hardware.

You could even consider using the Norwex Antimicrobial Window Polishing Cloth for the keys but I would not recommend using it or any of the other Norwex rags on the body of the piano as I would be afraid their material might scratch the surface.

Continue reading

Favorite Podcasts Under 20 Minutes

When I first discovered podcasts years ago, I went bananas. Every free moment I was listening to one – working out, driving, making the bed, cooking dinner, laminating and cutting out teaching aids – you name it.  I couldn’t get enough. 

It almost got to the point where it felt like a to-do list. I didn’t want to miss an episode of any of the podcasts I was following (the list was much shorter then).

Then one day it hit me. I’m burnt out. I simply have not had the motivation to listen to any-more, especially those that are more than 30 minutes.

Keep in mind I’m talking about on a weekly basis. There are those times on long drives or when I’m mowing the yard in the summer when I’m happy to plug in and listen to a long show, but in general, I am now reaching only for those that are 30 minutes or less and even more frequently 20 minutes or less.

So, today I wanted to share with you my favorite podcasts under 20 minutes.

 

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Host: Andy Stanley
(Also known for: Pastor at Atlanta-based North Point Ministries)

Description: “A conversation designed to help leaders go further.”

Episodes worth mentioning:
03.02.2017 Creating a Culture of Continual Improvement
05.05.2017 Doing What Only You Can Do
07.07.2017 How to Lead When You’re Not In Charge

Continue reading

Piano Teacher World

A Year in Recap: News, Happenings, and Impact

Dear Piano Teacher,

OK, OK, I’m a total copycat! I admit it. This is not an original idea. Last year, Leila Viss wrote a post called 40 Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources that she compiled along with her friend Marie Lee (which included Friday Finds B.T.W. 🙂 and I absolutely loved it.

So, I started making a list of items that impacted me this past year and the list just started flowing. As the list evolved, it started to include not just specific events, items, and products that impacted me, or that I “discovered,” but items and happenings that I would consider “big news” in piano teacher world.

In alphabetical order…

 

In Piano Teacher News

Big changes at The Francis Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy

There’s lots going on at The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy! Not only did they hire a new Full-Time Executive Director in October 2017 (Dr. Jennifer Snow), but in December 2017 they appointed Ryan Greene as the new Director of NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy).

 

Carol Matz’s inter@ctive Piano Method

Composer Carol Matz wrote and published a new method that has online interactive materials.

 

Colourful Keys Quick Clips

After attending NCKP this summer and seeing all the wonderful teaching demonstrations, Irish piano teacher Nicola Canton began posting short clips of her own teaching on her blog Colourfulkeys.ie.

Continue reading

Piano Pantry’s Top Posts of 2017

Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

The older we get it seems life tends to move more quickly every year. When you’re young it feels like life will go on forever. The next thing you know, you realize your high school graduation was 20 years ago (or 30-40 for that matter).

As I understand more and more how fast life passes by, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of reflection. We’re always working to do more, learn more, and be better. The result though is that it’s easy to forget where we’ve come from, hard to see all we’ve accomplished, and not realize all life has given us.

This yearly re-cap post is about putting all of your favorite topics from the past year (and from all-time) in one place. It’s also a chance for me to reflect on all that’s happened in my own life as a piano teacher at Studio 88 and blogger at Piano Pantry.

Before I wrote this post, I loved reading the recap post from last year. Here is Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016 recap.

In this post you will find:

  • A Month-by-Month Recap of 2017
  • The All-Time Top 5 Posts/Pages
  • The Top 5 Posts/Pages from 2017
  • The Top Friday Finds Post from 2017
  • My Personal Favorite Posts from 2017

Continue reading

Tidy Teacher Tips

End-of-Semester Reset

As we roll into the end of a semester of teaching, students and teachers alike are itching for a much-needed break from the past months. It’s time to breathe and reset our mind, body, and spirit by walking away from our day to day tasks and celebrating the season with friends and family.

Part of my daily routine in our home is that every evening before we go to bed, the dishes are done, the dishwasher is running, coffee is made, and lunches are packed so the morning goes smoothly.

I prep and reset the house for a clean and easy start to the day.

After the morning gets moving and my husband is off to work, I clean up breakfast dishes, tidy up blankets and such from the night before, make the bed, and prep dinner so when we arrive home from work the evening goes smoothly.

I prep and reset the house for a clean and easy end to the day.

When we go on vacation we like to make sure the house is clean and picked up, trash is taken out, dishes are completely done and put away, the refrigerator is as empty as possible, and there’s something frozen in the freezer to eat if needed when we return.

We prep and reset the house for a welcome and relaxing return.

Before you close the door to your studio to reset the teacher in you, I would like to encourage you to take a little time to reset your workspace so when you return, you can hit the ground running in a fresh environment. It feels so good!

Here are a few areas to pay attention to before you hang up your teacher hat.

 

Tidy Up Your Teaching area

  • Put everything back in its place. You may even play around with rearranging items to see if you can find a better workflow.
  • Take inventory of and order stickers, post-its, refills of pens, pencils, erasers, etc.
  • Sharpen up any pencils you have, be sure all the pens are closed.
  • Close all piano lids and push in the benches.
  • Download new assignment sheets or update your old ones for the new semester. Have a fresh set printed and ready to go. (I find using new sheets each semester refreshing. There are plenty to pick from on Assignment Sheet Central!)

 

BEFORE – AFTER
    

Continue reading

A Simple Money-Saving Tool

Wikibuy

My husband and I both do a lot of online shopping. Amazon Prime, I’ll admit, is arguably our most frequented “store.” It’s just SO CONVENIENT.

While I’ve never been a “couponer,” several months ago, my husband and I started using Wikibuy.

Continue reading

Catch me if you can

2017-2018 Presenting Schedule

This year is going to be chock-full of opportunities for me to share with teachers at both the local, state, and national levels.

Let me know if you’ll be attending any of these and we can be sure and meet up. Feel free to contact me if you need details. I’m excited to connect with more of you in person and learn together!

I’ve also created a permanent page here on Piano Pantry listing all these upcoming events as well as my previous events and topics. Find it here.

 


Friday, September 8, 2017

Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory for Piano Teachers (with co-presenter Joy Morin)

Location: Wood-Ottawa Counties MTA (Bowling Green, OH)


Friday, September 29, 2017

Teaching the Way We Learn: First Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (with co-presenter Joy Morin)

Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher (Lightning Talk)

Location: Indiana MTA state conference (Marion, IN) Continue reading