Piano Teacher World

A Year in Recap: 2018

 

Last year (2017), after being inspired by a post written by Leila Viss in 2016, I decided to sit down and think through everything that happened not only in my world as an independent piano teacher but just in general in what I would call “Piano Teacher World”.

Writing posts like these the last couple of years have been very enlightening, encouraging and really just a healthy exercise in gratitude in general.

The idea behind the “Piano Teacher World” recap is to take a look back at significant news, happenings, and impact in the world of independent piano teachers. The final part of this post also includes resources that have made a direct impact on my own teaching.

I tried to be as thorough as I could and will admit that the list is much smaller than it was last year. Be sure and share in the comments if there was anything you would add to the list!

For the sake of being thorough, I asked for recommendations on multiple Facebook groups and received a lot of excellent feedback on The Art of Piano Pedagogy group regarding overall trends – all of which I agree with. Let’s start with those. (If you’re interested in reading all the comments, which are much more specific, check out the full post here.)

 

2018 Trends

1 | Declining or leveled-off interest in iPads and apps. Better balance and understanding in the role they play in lessons.

2 | Teaching and learning piano online is becoming more and more viable and easily available.

3 | A shift in attitude and growing excitement toward rote teaching/learning.

4 | Increased curiosity and interest in Music Learning Theory and how it can impact piano teaching, not just Early Childhood Music.

5 | Continually improved quality and ease-of-availability in regards to self-published material.

6 | Rising interested in quality blogs, podcasts, and online communities.

7|  Continual professionalization of the field.

8 | A renewed interest in pedagogy outside of academia.

9 | Ongoing concerns with declining membership in professional organizations such as MTNA.

Also mentioned in the list, while not a “trend,” was Brenda Wristen and Lora Deahl’s book Adaptive Strategies for Small-Handed Pianists (Published November 2017).

 

In Piano Teacher News

ELISA MILNE opened a shop on her website.


Launch of CYBER CONSERVATORY that accompanies the app Super Score.

A teacher friend shared this one specifically with me. She has always loved Marvin Blickenstaff’s method “Music Pathways” and Paul Sheftel’s MIDI accompaniment for the series. She says there are lots of good compositions by Lynn Freeman Olson. 


THE FRANCIS CLARK CENTER is continuing to see changes as Dr. Pamela Pike was named the new Editor in Chief/Chief Content Director and Dr. Andrea McAlister was appointed as the new Director of Content Curation and Senior Editor for Clavier Companion. 

They also launched a Facebook group for subscribers called Piano Teach Learn.

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Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

Let's stop for a minute and think about how many people we "follow" online. To keep it even more specific and focused, only think about those you follow who create content for piano teachers.

Can you count them all on one hand or do you lose track after listing more than a dozen?

I stopped counting after 50. Yes, 50.  I'm pretty sure my number is actually closer to 90.

Let's crank that jaw back shut - it's not as scary as it seems!

Next to email, managing the influx of content from all our favorite blogs and websites seems to be the one area that teachers struggle with the most - and for good reason. The last five years especially have seen an explosion of new content creators - I'm one of them!

Believe it or not, it is possible to follow a large number of sites online in a manageable way without it feeling overwhelming. More importantly, you can do it without clogging your email Inbox or Facebook Newsfeed with articles. Curious?

 

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Piano Teacher Must-Have’s

A Minimalist’s List

As the time gets closer and closer for us to move into our new home and eventually my new studio, I’ve come to realize just how much STUFF I have in my studio that will have to be moved.

While dreading the thought of relocating all these things, I began to ponder what it would be like to have a “minimalist” studio.

If I were a brand new teacher or if I had to start all over again in a very small space, what are the items that would be “must-haves”?

Thus was born this “minamalist’s list.” Keep in mind that we’re talking bare bones. This list does not include equipment (like a piano),  office equipment like computers and printers, or pedagogical books.

I look forward to hearing some of your “must-haves” in the comments!

 

A Copy of Your Favorite Method Book

This is my first recommendation because it’s one of the most basic and important in my opinion.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either wanted to have a look at a students method book while lesson planning, needed a copy so I could make a video lesson for a student or simply need an extra copy when a student forgets their book. Whatever method you use the most, keep one extra copy on hand at all times!

 

 

Office Supply Must-Have

Post-its are kind of a “must-have” in any teacher’s world. I couldn’t go without these 1/2″ x 1 3/4″ Post-its for marking assigned pages. I like the paper ones because I can also write on them if needed as opposed to the plastic-type tabs.

Erasable pens, markers, and colored pencils are God’s gift to teachers. I have four specific recommendations in this area.

Frixion Erasable Colors 12-pack.

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Creating a Studio Legacy with Student Photo Boards

A Canva Tutorial [Video]

This is my current student photo board.

Students are not displayed from oldest to youngest, but by how long they’ve been studying with me – moving from left to right and top to bottom.

Every photo includes the student’s picture, their first name, and the month and year they started taking piano lessons at Studio 88.

The white spaces are inspiring quotes. I could have filled them all up individually if I had included my adults, but I assumed they would want anonymity. (After one of them asked why they weren’t on the photo board, I realized next time I should just ask if I could include them rather than assume!)

Today I want to show you how you can create a photo board like this using an online design studio called Canva.

First, I want to briefly share what got me started on having a student photo board.

 

Who’s the Team?

One of the hottest series here on Piano Pantry is called the Varsity Musician’s Playbook. Written by a good friend of mine, the series focuses on how we can develop thriving studios and students who are deeply committed using principles from team sports.

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Assignment Sheet with *that* Emoji Updated

A reader contacted me and asked if I would consider tweaking her favorite assignment sheet – #15 – on Assignment Sheet Central. Why?

Well, the “practice cake” graphic that shows students the steps for good practice kind of looked like *that* emoji. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. Don’t make me say it.

Well, OK…it is what it’s is.

It looks like the poop emoji. There. I said it. Do you agree?

In my defense, I’m pretty sure the poop emoji did not even exist when I created this assignment sheet.

That being said, I had to agree with her and thus, created a new design. Since the assignment sheet is titled “Practice Steps,” I thought it would be more fitting to use the visual of actual stair steps rather than a cake.

Like what you see? See more where that came from on Assignment Sheet Central.

 

Fun Postcards for Marketing Your Studio

Do you want a simple and effective way to market your studio?

Here it is…

Postcards. 

That’s it. Simple, right?

You’re probably putting the brakes on right now thinking…

“Now wait a minute, Amy, why in the world would I bother with snail mail? What do postcards have to do with me getting more students?”

It’s called in-studio marketing – building rapport with the families you have.

I’m not here to talk specifics about why you should send postcards to your students today (you can catch more details on the “why” in the post Marketing with Postcards: It’s Not What You Think!)

What I AM here to do is to share some fun postcard ideas I came across in my quest for this years postcards!

 

Colorful Mandala Postcard

The first few years of sending my student’s postcards, I just bought packs of postcards from Arts United Supply.

Last year though it was time to change things up, so I used Susan Hong’s beautiful Mandala Postcards. It’s a downloadable studio license for $10 and you get both the color version and the black and white version which would be fun for students to color.

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New Sheets Added to Assignment Sheet Central

(Including My Favorite!)

Do you get tired of looking at the same assignment sheet week after week?

I do!

You no longer have a good excuse to use the same-old boring assignment sheet week after week, year after year.

Why?

You now have 21 – yes, that’s what I said – 21 different assignment sheets to choose from in one location here on Piano Pantry as I just added six new assignment sheets to Assignment Sheet Central.

To make it easy for you, I just copied them here!

Psst…the last one (#21) is my current favorite. I’m using it for the second year in a row (after tweaking it of course! :-))

 

Assignment Sheet-16 | Sticker Boxes

Assignment sheet for younger students includes a fun clip art images, six practice items, and an area for additional assignments all with sticker boxes.

Includes:
  • 6 Practice items
  • 4 Extra activities
  • Sticker boxes for days practiced
  • Student and parent practice reflection with sad face or smiley face

 


Assignment Sheet-17 | Piano Safari

This assignment sheet is for students using the Piano Safari method. Includes clip art of animal technique exercises as well as sticker boxes for practice.

Includes:
  • Clip art of technique exercises
  • Sticker boxes for practice days
  • Area for other activities
  • Student and parent practice reflection with sad face or smiley face

 


Assignment Sheet-18 | Easy as 1-2-3

This assignment sheet is great for adults. 10 practice tips included as well as an area for warm-ups, songs, other items, and notes.

Includes:
  • 10 practice tips
  • Warm-up, songs, other, notes

 

 


Assignment Sheet-19 | Student-Driven

This sheet is great for older teens. It serves not as an “assignment” sheet but a “what did I do” sheet where students take charge of their own learning.

Includes:
  • Student goal(s)
  • Practice-focused accomplishments from most to least
  • Smart practice tools
  • Practice reflection

 


Assignment Sheet-20 | Versatile

This assignment sheet is very versatile and could be used for students of any age. It includes practice tips, an inspiring quote, and daily practice boxes.

Includes:
  • Smart practice tools
  • Inspirational quote
  • Open-ended practice items
  • Daily practice boxes
  • Practice reflection

 


Assignment Sheet-21 | Practice Rating-Scale

This sheet includes indicator for the status for pieces: new, in-progress, review, memory as well as a practice-rating scale for both student and teacher.

Includes:
  • Status of pieces: new, in-progress, review, memory
  • Practice goals for each piece
  • Daily progress
  • Practice reflection with rating scale from both student and teacher

Facebook Live Studio Tour Wrap-Up

Earlier this week I hosted a Facebook Live series that toured various areas of my piano studio.

If you missed it, you can still catch the videos on the Piano Pantry Facebook page. There were several blog posts and items I mentioned in the videos I’ve also linked for you below.

Many thanks to all the encouraging comments and feedback! I look forward to doing more Facebook Live videos in the future now that I’ve finally taken the plunge!

 

Day 1

Studio layout/overview, and workspace including student files and how I organize my music. Click here to view the video.

Posts mentioned / related:

Other resources mentioned:

 

Day 2

A look into my teaching space and student music lab. Click here to view the video.

Posts mentioned / related:

 

Other resources mentioned:

 

Day 3

A look into my student space including incentive program, prize boxes, game drawer, practice charts and more. Click here to view the video.

Posts mentioned / related:

Other resources mentioned:

 

One-Click Calendar

Your Annual Studio Calendar Simplified [Video]

Simplicity. We can all use a little more of it, wouldn’t you agree?!

Well, today I have a tutorial video that will make the creation of your studio calendar from year to year as simple as one keystroke and…

Voila! Your new calendar will be created.

I’m not exaggerating. No, seriously. It’s true.

 

The Calendar

Before I turn your studio management world upside down, let me show you the calendar we’re about to create. (Note: some of the black lines didn’t transfer evenly in my screenshot image but we’re only talking big picture here).

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Recommended Reads

My 2017 Reading List

Although I am an avid reader, several years ago, amidst grad school and the early years of opening my piano studio, I found myself reading very little (except what was assigned in school, of course). A few years following, I still found myself continually saying how much I missed reading so I finally set my foot down for myself and said – no more.

Each year I now set a goal for how many books I want to read and increase it by 1-2 books per year. In 2017 the goal was 20 and I hit it spot on. Next year the goal will be 21. See? Baby steps are manageable. Before I know it, I’ll be reading 30 books a year.

After being inspired by the following quotes…

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ~Oscar Wilde

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” ~C.S. Lewis

…I vowed this year, to begin including re-reads in my list. The goal was to re-read 5 books (25%) but unfortunately, I only ended up re-reading one (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert). That’s OK though, I just reminded myself that it’s about baby steps. So, my goal for 2018 my goal will be that 2 of the 21 books will be re-reads.

I hope you can find some inspiration for your own personal book list below. Let me know what you’re reading and some of your top recommendations from this past year in the comments!

 

 

Business / Professional

The Savvy Musician by David Cutler

Beware, this book is more of a manual than a pleasure read. 🙂 It is absolutely chock full of ideas for thinking outside the box as an independent music teacher. New teachers and those looking to build their business or explore new income streams will find this book extremely useful.

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