Petition to Reinstate the RCM Theory Apps

It’s a sad day! I’ve recently discovered and now have 100% confirmation that The Royal Conservatory’s Theory apps are no longer available in the app store.

While the image above displays Prep – Level 3, there was actually a Level 4 as well (so 5 total); it just didn’t fit into my screenshot image – ha!

Apparently, they’ve been gone for quite some months. However, if (like me), if you already own these apps, you would have never known because they still work on your iPad!

I only discovered it when a reader contacted me regarding the correlating music labs wondering if there was a level 5. Rather than finding any newly published apps, I instead discovered they were gone entirely!

These apps were some of the best quality theory apps and my students loved them. I am incredibly bummed to see these no longer in the app store.

Thanks to Judy Naillion in the iPad Piano Teacher’s group for assisting in this research. She made the call to RCM to investigate (including a long hold wait) and obtained information on how we can submit complaints/petition to have them reinstated.

Taking her suggestion, I’ve created an online petition that will be sent to The Royal Conservatory requesting the reconsider publishing these apps.

Thank you for your participation!

A Big One-Minute Club Update Including Two Free Downloads!

Are you looking for a way to help your students learn their notes on the staff in a fun way? Consider implementing the One-Minute Club in your studio!

This program focuses on the skill of naming and playing the notes on the music staff in one minute or less. 

Four years ago, I first shared all the nitty-gritty details on how I run this program in my studio. If you haven’t read that post, you might consider reading it first before reading this post!

Even if you have already read the original post, I would strongly suggest you check it out again as I just did a HUGE OVERHAUL of the original post and packed it full of even more great information!


Read the original post: One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge


Over the past couple of years, I’ve been playing around with some changes to the leveling I use for this challenge.

In this post, I’ll share details on the new levels, why I made the switch, and tell you a little more about my new display board you see above.

Plus, I have two free downloads for you! One is a beautiful landmark note visual aid and the other a downloadable resource for running your own challenge.


Do you teach online? You might check out The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual!


 

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Happy Birthday By Ear

The Ultimate Teaching Resource

Can you think of any moments when, as a young piano student, you were
put on the spot or caught off guard being asked to play something for people and feeling the heat rise to your face because you weren’t able to do so “because you didn’t have any “music”?

I myself have had many experiences in this situation – sadly, even into my early adult years. Often, the request was a simple one – “Happy Birthday” – and yet to me, it was crippling and made me feel ashamed.

These people know me as THE pianist in their life. That’s what I’m known for! Why can’t I just sit down and play this simple tune without music?

Without a doubt, life experiences make up who we are today.

As a teacher, I’m now determined to help my students feel
ENABLED and CONFIDENT that, as pianists, they can sit down and play something anywhere and at any time – starting with the tune “Happy Birthday.”

Today I am excited to release the ultimate teaching resource for playing “Happy Birthday” by ear and am confident this is the only download you will ever need!

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My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon

As the years go on, the number of items I purchase on Amazon has slowly increased. With the current times, for many, it has increased exponentially.

If you’ve never done so, it’s kind of fun to go back through your Amazon order history and see how it grows and evolves from year to year and even decade to decade!

My first Amazon purchase was one item in December 2003. After that, it’s quite fascinating to see how it would stay consistent for several years but increased quickly.

2005 – 2012:  8-10 orders per year
2013 – 2014:  20-25 orders per year
2015 – 2018:  30-40 orders per year
2019:  60 orders
2020: 41 orders (thus far = by August)

Amazon is really good about not only letting you know how often you’ve purchased a product…

…they also make it really easy to “Buy It Again” directly from your order history page.

Today I want to share with you six items I’ve found myself buying for my piano studio again and again on Amazon.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they are all consumable office supplies!

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Friday Finds #175

Best-of (and a Giveaway!)

Hello friends and welcome to Friday Finds 175!

Today we are celebrating the best-of-the-best finds from the past 24 posts – from #151 to #174.

As usual, in celebration of a milestone, there will be a giveaway at the end. Woot, woot!

What is it, you ask?

I’ll be giving away 1 copy of “The Sessions” book – you choose which book you would like!

My only rule for myself is that this post would contain no more than 25 of the best items from these past weeks.

In order for an item to make the top 25, it had either to still be quite interesting or something that I absolutely love. It also had to hold value for us both now and in the future. In other words, is the item (fairly) timeless?

I’ve broken them down into a few categories to make it easier to consume.

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10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable

If you’re not already teaching lessons online, many of us will be this week following Spring Break.

I think we can all agree that online teaching can take a little bit (or even a lot) more energy than in-person. Hopefully, the more we do it, the easier it will get!

To help you along the way, here are 10 products I love that can help make your next few weeks feel a little less stressful and a little more comfortable.

Remember, it’s the small things that can bring us joy in stressful times!

Here’s a quick reference guide – descriptions follow!

 

#1-4 Hydrate and Moisturize

Staying well-hydrated is always important for good health, but we may need to be even more conscious of it now. If we’re not intentionally conscious of it, we may tend to find ourselves talking a little louder than normal which leads to dry mouth and dehydration.

Consider keeping an electric kettle next to you for cups of tea or even warm lemon water. Chef’s Choice Electric Glass Kettle is good quality and well-priced.

 

One of my favorite teas is The Republic of Tea’s Spring Cherry Green Tea

 

The individual bags are convenient for on-the-go teaching.

Excess talking can also easily dry out the lips. Don’t forget a stash of chapstick! SW Basics Organic Beeswax Lip Balm

 

With everyone being more conscious of handwashing perhaps longer and more frequently than before, the skin on your hands may be suffering.

Keep this lovely-smelling EO Body Lotion, Coconut and Vanilla on your desk to enjoy after each hand-washing.

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Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments With Coinhop

As many teachers are considering what it may look like to run their studio (temporarily) online, one topic that may be necessary and quite urgent is making the move to online payments.

If you’re still taking checks from parents and worried about making the switch, rest assured, while it may take a little leg work setting everyone up, your future self won’t regret it.

Taking online payments will not only save you time from manually depositing checks but the payment portal I want to share with you today will save you money compared to 90% of the other online payment services out there.
(P.S. That number was arbitrary. Basically, the fees are cheaper than anything else I’ve found out there.)

Coinhop has been my payment portal of choice for several years now. I hope the reasons why I love it will help you as you’re considering online payment options for your studio.


Please note that Piano Pantry is enrolled in the Referral Program with Coinhop which simply means that if you sign-up, I will get a small commission without it costing you any extra.


Sign up for Coinhop now!


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A Simple (and Free) Video Supplement to Support Your Online Teaching

Are you looking for a few extra (but simple) tools to help you with your new journey into online teaching?

Here’s one you may have not even considered!

A free compilation of 48 of the best music-theory videos from all over the web is available to you here on Piano Pantry.

How can this video-series help make your life easier over the coming weeks?

The videos have been leveled into four sets based on the rough/general order in which concepts are introduced in most piano methods.

You will be able to quickly and easily access videos that can help reinforce new concepts your students may be learning. Here are a few examples of videos in each set:

Set 1
  1. Key names and the music alphabet
  2. How to draw the treble and bass clef
  3. Landmark notes
Set 2
  1. Skips alphabet on the staff
  2. Sharps, flats, and naturals
  3. How to build major and minor triads
Set 3
  1. AB and ABA Form
  2. Chord inversions
  3. Circle of fifths
Set 4
  1. Scale degree names
  2. Augmented intervals
  3. Double sharps and flats

 

Before, during, or after your online lesson, grab the link and text or email it to students/parents. (If you use a program such as Tonara, simply attach a link to the video in a theory lesson assignment. Easy!)

Should these videos replace a lesson?
No!

Are they an easy and fun way to provide additional e-learning to your students?
Yes!


Access the video series here.


Here’s a screenshot showing a few videos that are included in the series:

 

Tracking Sheet

If you’re interested in having a way to keep track of what videos you’ve assigned to each student, find the 2-page guide that accompanies this series in the Music Labs Shop or simply add it to your shopping cart now.

P.S. All music labs are studio licenses so you can print it as much as you need for your students.

 

 

 


Did you find this post helpful? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


 

Implementing Incentives

The Struggle Is Was Real

To incentivize or not to incentivize. That is the question.

(Or maybe you’re simply wondering at the moment whether or not “incentivize” is actually a word? It is, by the way. 🙂 )

Do you struggle with implementing an incentive program?

Is it because you’re torn between the philosophy of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation or is it because it’s a struggle to be consistent in implementing something? (Or maybe a little of both?)

While there’s plenty of research supporting both sides of this age-old question of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, today I’ll be sharing my journey with (and support of) implementing incentives. Specifically:

  1. Why I struggled for years with implementing incentive programs.
  2. Four things I found an incentive program (and I) needed for long-term success.
  3. How others in the field helped inspire and develop my own philosophy regarding extrinsic rewards along the way.
  4. How short term rewards can turn into long-term joy including a specific example from my studio.

In a later post, I’ll get more specific with the incentive program I’ve been using with success for several years, and a list of popular prize box items.

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The Practice Cake Assignment Sheet

Have you ever heard of “The Practice Cake?”

The analogy was first brought to my attention by Dr. Lori Rhoden, who I studied with in the graduate piano pedagogy program at Ball State.

Recently, I saw an article on The Practice Cake and it made me remember that I have an assignment sheet that is based on this idea!

It’s a simple idea really, but a great visual for how to teach students to build their practice.

1) Rhythm and notes/fingering

2) Articulation

3) Dynamics and tempo

4) Pedal

The image is flip-flopped, however, like a layer cake! The foundation is the rhythm/notes/fingering the top of the cake is the pedal. You can’t get to the top unless you have the foundation!

One of the assignment sheets I created in my early “assignment-sheet-creating” days included a small image as such.

However, after a reader asked if I could tweak it because it looked like *that* emoji, yeah, you know, the poop emoji, I decided to simply switch the analogy to a stairstep. (I was working from Microsoft Word, and didn’t know about things like Canva at the time, OK? 🙂 LOL)

It doesn’t really matter the graphic, right? The idea is the same.

If you like the idea of having an image as such on your student’s assignment sheet each week, check out Assignment Sheet #15: Practice Steps 2 on Assignment Sheet Central or just download it right here!

 


Interested in reading a little more on this idea?

Check out this article by Chrissy Ricker on Tonara.com:  The Practice Cake: A “sweet” approach to teaching beginners how to practice