Giving Tuesday

10 Music-Based Organizations to Consider

In light of the upcoming global cause called #GivingTuesday, I thought I would share with you a list of 10 organizations that we as music teachers could consider supporting as we approach the end of the year.

First of all, I was curious and did a little research on this initiative and wanted to share some fun facts:

  • It is held the Tuesday following the U.S. Thanksgiving.
  • Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.
  • The movement was a response to the rise in commercialization and consumerism during the post-Thanksgiving season (a.k.a. Black Friday and Cyber Monday).
  • The hash-tag (#) makes it empowering via social media.
  • There’s a whole website dedicated to #GivingTuesday!
  • It’s not just about donating money but about encouraging people to find a way to give back – whether that’s monetarily or simply of your time.

 

Presented in alphabetical order, here are ten organizations working for the betterment of our musical world. (In order to give you the most accurate description of each of these organizations, the descriptions have been taken directly from their website.)

Disclaimer: This list is simply based on research. I am not being paid by any of these organizations nor do not have experience donating to all of these organizations. Always do further research so you know where your investment is going!

 

#1 Give A Note Foundation

Give A Note Foundation was created to bring awareness to the importance of music education and to nurture, grow, and strengthen music education opportunities—for every student, every school, and every community. Because music not only offers students the chance to develop creativity and self-expression, but also builds skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking that are necessary for success.

#MusicEdMatters

Visit: giveanote.org

 

#2 Hungry for Music

At Hungry for Music, our mission is putting quality musical instruments into hungry hands. We serve children who demonstrate a desire to learn music, as well as teachers who have students willing to learn.

In 25 years, we’ve delivered more than 13,000 instruments to children in 49 states and 30 countries.

Visit: HungryforMusic.org

 

#3 MTNA Foundation Fund

The Music Teachers National Association uses the Foundation Fund to expand its mission through a variety of grants and awards to deserving music teachers and their students.

More than $150,000 in grants and awards each year for:

  • Competition Prizes for the winners of the MTNA Student Competitions
  • Collegiate Grants for the professional development of Collegiate members
  • Program Development Grants for music organizations to use as seed money in their quest for larger-scale funding
  • Community Engagement Grants for programs and projects designed to be used by affiliates to engage the local community in musical events
  • Teacher Enrichment Grants for MTNA members to pursue needed professional development opportunities
  • Affiliate Enrichment Grants for local and state MTNA affiliates to develop educational and professional development projects and programs
  • Composer Commissioning Program for MTNA state affiliates to commission new music to be featured at the state conferences

Visit: mtnafoundation.org

 

#4 Music Link Foundation

Our Mission:Any child who has musical potential deserves the opportunity to nurture this talent to its full extent. Many children lack the chance to receive music lessons due to financial need. The MusicLink Foundation reaches out to low-income families by linking these students with professional music teachers willing to reduce their fees to make the lessons more affordable for the child.

Note: The MusicLink Foundation does not reimburse teachers for this scholarship donation, but supports them in a variety of ways.

Visit: www.musiclinkfoundation.org

 

#5 Music Unites

Music Unites is the leading non-profit charity organization supporting music education around the world. Music Unites partners with music stars, celebrity ambassadors and music sponsors to promote music projects and events at local schools – educating kids through music. Music Unites is a music foundation that empowers children through donations from individuals, foundation partners, organization events and music education projects. Along with our music partners, musicunites.org features news, events, video and press of the organization. Special charity partners have supported the Music Unites Foundation while guiding youth towards planning achievable goals for the future. Music Unites feature workshops with ambassadors such as Swizz Beats, John Forte, Sting, Gary Clark Jr., and more.

Visit: www.musicunites.org

 

#6 The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs.

#7 National Association for Music Education

National Association for Music Education (NAfME), among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century

Visit: nafme.org/

 

#8 Pianos For Education

Pianos for Education supports piano education by loaning quality pianos to institutions…

…In pursuit of that goal, we have over time expanded our programs to seek out deserving institutions and organizations that lack the financial resources to acquire and maintain adequate inventories of quality pianos for their music-education curriculums. We also accept applications from private piano teachers and studios in need of piano loans for their students’ studies. All of our loan programs include regular service and maintenance throughout the term of the loan.

Visit: pianosforeducation.org

 

#9 Pianos for Peace

This program gives talented but disadvantaged young people the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to actively contribute to the development of their communities…

…We encourage and support students to become “Ambassadors for Peace” to build bridges and heal communities through creative, educational and cultural exchange programs. Target groups include children, students, refugees, and deserving academic institutions.

At Pianos For Peace, we are achieving peace starting with the individual, to the community and the world.

Visit: pianosforpeace.org

 

#10 Pianos for People

Pianos for People inspires successful futures by providing free access to the transformational power of the piano.   For families and individuals with limited resources, we break down financial barriers and leverage the piano as a gateway to empowerment, community, and self-esteem. In an environment of support, inclusiveness, and equality, we do this four ways:

Inspiration:  Free Pianos
Education:  Free Lessons and Workshops
Community:  Free Special Events
Enrichment:  Free Summer Music Camps

Visit: pianosforpeople.org

 


I’m sure there are many, many more organizations out there that would benefit from our generosity on #GivingTuesday. If you know of any other organizations that work to support music education, please feel free to share in the comments!

 

Email Madness

Three Tips for Managing Your Inbox

You know who you are.

As soon as you read the title of this post you thought: “Busted!”

As independent teachers, not only do we get daily correspondence both personally and for our studio’s, but you likely get weekly emails from multiple professional organizations and website subscriptions.

Does your email Inbox have a big fat red number kind of like this (give or take a few thousand)? 🙂

Some of you may be nodding your head in agreement, raising your hand in confession, and some of you may be having anxiety seeing such a large number because you are already on a path of email management called “Inbox zero.” If you’re the latter, then kudos to you!

There are three major tips that I want to share with you today on how to manage your email and the first begins with this modern productivity term “Inbox zero.”

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5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Music Studio

Are you looking for a better way to organize and store photos and videos?

Would you love an easy way to share those special clips directly with students and their families – especially those that aren’t a part of social media (yes, they exist).

Google Photos might be YOUR perfect solution!

My husband and I are PC users. He’s in the business world so that’s just how it goes in our house. For years I tried but never loved iCloud Photos. The interface just didn’t feel good to me and I was frustrated and unhappy.

For years I was hoping for a way to store photos and videos that would easily allow me to tag photos of multiple students on one photo.

Don’t laugh, but in the old old days, I even tried renaming every photo on my desktop file manager to include the name of each student that was in the photo.

This was a TERRIBLE idea but I was desperate.

I felt like I had the rest of my digital life organized and in order but photos were getting the best of me.

Then I met fellow Louisville-based piano teacher Daniel Light at a session I was giving to the teachers of Louisville MTA and he changed my world forever by introducing me to Google Photos!

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why Google Photos may answer your needs (as they did mine) for a better media storage solution.

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Christmas Gift Round-Up!

A couple of years ago I shared quite a few ideas for great Christmas gifts to give to your music students.

Since not much time has passed since that post, I only have one new idea to add to my original list, so I thought it might be fun to also give you links to everyone else’s ideas too!

 

First, a Tip!

Before I give you my round-up, I do have one new BIG TIP to share:

Keep a list of what you give your students each year!

The first year I opened my studio, I didn’t record the gift I gave and I regretted it because it is SOOOO nice to be able to look back and see what you’ve done recently.

Keeping a list means that you can easily repeat gifts with confidence.

This year, I’m cycling back and giving a gift that I did six years ago which means I’m confident a large majority of my students haven’t received this gift from me!

It’s a simple as writing it down in your favorite note-taking app (like Evernote, of course!). Here’s my list:

  • 2018 Metal treble clef bookmark
  • 2017 Ceramic snowman ornament with music notes
  • 2016 White Mess Puppy chow with Japanese Piano Eraser attached
  • 2015 Black sparkly music ornament
  • 2014 Bag of puppy chow
  • 2013 Hot chocolate mix
  • 2012 Hershey symphony bar

All of these items (except 2018) were shared in my original gift-giving post. 

 

More Ideas

Last year I gave my students these Metal Treble Clef Bookmarks

At $13.00 for a pack of 10, you can’t go wrong for such a cute but economical gift! 

BONUS: The tassel almost makes them feel like an ornament and they come in a cute little box!

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Music Labs in the Independent Studio: A Brief History

(and a big announcement!)

Do you remember when you first started hearing about the idea of including music labs as part of private music instruction in the independent studio? Is the idea something you’ve always been aware of or do you recall a certain point in time when you noticed the idea emerging?

Depending on how long you’ve been teaching, I’m sure each of us will have a different answer to this question.

From my own recollection, my piano lessons growing up were fairly traditional. When I first started teaching piano right out of high school (ca. 1998-2001; I can’t remember what year I took my first student! 🙁 ), I had never heard of music labs.

Since my first degree and career was in choral education, not piano pedagogy, I’m not aware of the exact point in history when music labs became popular to include in the independent music studio. I recall being vaguely aware that it was a “thing” around 2005.

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2019-2020 Birthday Postcards

I’ve shared here on Piano Pantry before how I send birthday postcards to all my students. If you’ve not caught that post, check it out here.

Each year I like to purchase a new set of postcards that are fun and unique and not just a boring “Happy Birthday” postcard.

Last year I shared a post full of several fun postcard choices (including last year’s) and today I wanted to share with you the ones I chose for this year.

The past two year’s I’ve purchased them from Etsy and have a feeling this may be my go-to place for several years to come.

As long as I get them for under $1 per postcard, I consider that worth it.

Aren’t they cool?

Find them at Brian Moss Art on Etsy.

 

Instagram for Piano Teachers

5 Fun Accounts to Follow

This is a post I’ve been excited to write for a long time. I don’t know why exactly.  I think it’s just because it’s a fun and light post that doesn’t require any of us to revamp our piano-teaching or extend our to-do list. LOL.

If you’re not already on Instagram, you might want to check out this post first on the #1 Reason Why You Should Be On Instagram as in Independent Music Teacher.

Whether you’re just creating your Instagram account for the first time, or if you’ve been on there since the day it launched in 2010, there are five Instagram accounts I’ve really enjoyed recently you might want to consider following if you’re not already.

Before I give you my list, I wanted to let you know exactly what I was looking for in this particular list.

 

The Criterion

While there are a TON of piano teachers, bloggers, etc. on Instagram, this post is focused on accounts that spark a little “fun” in the piano studio world.

They can include a little (but not too much) of:

  • Marketing for their website or product.
  • Videos of their own playing or their students playing.

They should include:

  • Student / studio-related photos (but not too many).
  • A few personal photos – keep yourself real and relatable!
  • A lot of fun, beautiful piano-related eye candy.

In other words, I was looking for accounts that balanced life and studio, that didn’t seem focused on marketing their self or products, and that included a lot of piano beauty, fun, and even humor.

Here’s are my recommendations in no particular order. (Except the last one which is definitely my favorite!)

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Instagram for Independent Music Teachers

The #1 Reason You Should Be There

With so many social media apps out there, many teachers are hesitant to put the time and effort into trying a new platform. Believe it or not, though, Instagram isn’t new – it’s been out for almost 10 years!

As a fellow skeptic, I want to share with you today the biggest reason why any music teacher who is running an independent music studio needs to be on Instagram.

My own personal journey to Instagram is a big part of this story, so let me start there.

 

Entering Instagram

In July 2015, I opened my account and posted my first photo.

Since it was August, the month for fresh produce and canning (and you all know I love food), I had a little fun posting a lot of food photos.

Then it was pretty much crickets until October 2016 – more than a year later. Eek!

Bam!!

I’m suddenly back in and using Instagram even more than Facebook.

 

What happened?

Inspiration finally set in from a session I attended earlier that year at the 2016 MTNA Conference in San Antonio. The session was actually put on by a friend and colleague of mine and was called The Varsity Musician’s Playbook.: Commitment-Building Strategies from Team Sports to the Studio.

I was so inspired by her session, that I asked her to write a 3-part series here on Piano Pantry.

Part 1: Studio Interdependence
Part 2: Studio “Locker Room”
Part 3: Community Presence

Part 3 is where the conviction to start using Instagram again set in. Granted, it took me almost 7 months to gear up to start using Instagram again, but once I did, I haven’t looked back and there’s one big reason why.

 

Student-Studio Connection

Instagram is (one place) where my students go to connect. Every single one of my high school students is on Instagram as well as a few younger students.

Students can see what’s going on in the studio outside of just their lesson. Most of my students go to different schools, so it’s fun for them to see the life of their piano peer’s outside of piano studio life as well as inside our piano studio life.

They can celebrate each other’s achievements and connect with each other outside of group classes. I witness students “loving” (as it goes on Instagram) and commenting on each other’s photos as well as the studio.

I always like to imagine that if I had social media like this growing up, and I saw a photo of a fellow student who has finished a book that I was struggling through, it would have been great motivation to work hard to also complete the book.

 

My Instagram Focus

Instagram is such an important part of my studio that I try to keep it focused on just that – my studio. Do I share personal things? Of course. Do I share a few Piano Pantry things once in a while? Yep.

If you follow me on Instagram though, you’ll see that I am 95% focused on my students.

Can we use Instagram as a way to market our studios? Absolutely! My mindset, however, is less on “outward” marketing and more “inward” marketing. That is, developing a community within your studio which then seems to radiate outward on its own.

P.S. Just a tip that in order to actually allow outward marketing to also occur, don’t keep your Instagram account private. That is, when you create an account, don’t set it up so people have to “request” to follow you. Let it be a public account anyone can follow. You want the public to see all the wonderful things you do in your studio!

 

Fun Accounts to Follow

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to get on the Instagram bandwagon, here are 5 really fun accounts for piano teachers to follow.

 

Find me on Instagram!

Follow me on Instagram @amystudio88

Hope to see you there!

 

Studio Awards Update (Including Some Awesome Trophies!)

This year marked the eighth year of my full-time piano studio. Suddenly, this spring, it just felt like it was the year to go through a revision of the studio awards I give every year at our year-end Spring Recital.

I’ve already written a detailed post on how I track my studio awards using an Awards Policies and Procedures Manual. This post (which I just updated), also includes details on the types of awards I give each year as well as the specific trophies, etc.

This year I went through a pretty good overhaul. Not only have I changed what awards students get for their years of study as part of the MTNA Music Study Award (again, see the first post), but I changed trophy companies and I am very happy with the results.

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Improve Your Audience’s Recital Experience with these Simple Signs

Organizing a studio recital involves lots of different aspects beyond student repertoire preparation. Many of us, I’m sure, have stories we can tell of the lessons learned in our first few years of recital-planning.

One of my first lessons-learned was to put up some kind of signage, especially when the recital is not in the same location every year.

Is it a necessity? No. Can people generally find their way to the recital hall or auditorium eventually? Yes.

So why use direction signs?

If you’ve ever attended a graduation party, baby shower, or conference, I’m sure you will agree that the minute you see a sign indicating you are in the correct location, you breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s comforting to not have to wonder if you’re in the right location or to have to search for where you’re going. Relieving this small anxiety for your audience will not only make a great first impression but will add a professional touch with little effort. All it takes is a few signs posted around the building where the recital is being held.

The signs are very simple – no frills. I kept them pretty plain rather than with a design so they can be used at any kind of recital, no matter what your program looks like.

They’re being made available to you in Microsoft Word format so you can download the document and make tweaks to your heart’s content or print only the signs you’ll use.

I like to include my logo at the top of the page.  Feel free to import your own!

Signs include:

  • Arrows pointing to the correct direction to find the recital location/room.
  • Asking the audience to wait in the foyer until the doors open.
  • Reminding attendees food and drink should be taken into the recital hall. (Unless you’re having a special recital like a picnic of course! 🙂
  • Asking the audience to sit toward the front half of the room. (I use these when we’re in a large sanctuary so it doesn’t feel like they’re all spread out. I set them on either end of the row/pew encouraging people to keep moving forward.

 

Consider taking your signage a step further and purchase a yard sign you can reuse from year to year that has your studio logo and says “Recital Here” or something generic that could be used for any kind of performance(s) you organize in your studio.

What was one of the first things you learned when planning a recital that helped it go smoother the following year and each year since?