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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147 Tunes to Harmonize Updated

Just a quick note to let you guys know that I recently did a small update to the free download 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw how many hundreds of you have downloaded this freebie!

Here are a few quick ideas on how you could use it:

  1. Pull it out when students forget their materials or haven’t practiced enough on their pieces.
  2. Use it for a month-long focus on harmonization.
  3. Practice harmonizing these tunes on your own to develop your own ear!
  4. At Christmas time, have students choose one piece off the list that they’re not learning as part of their Christmas repertoire and have them play that Christmas tune with chords while they sing!

 

P.S. I would definitely recommend printing it out and keeping it next to the piano at all times!

Happy harmonizing!

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! ūüôĀ ), 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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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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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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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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A Visual Listening Guide for Group Class Performances

Listening guides are like a collector’s item in my studio. The file drawers hold no less than six different forms obtained over the years from other wonderful teaching sites.¬†Unfortunately, none of them have hit it spot on for me, so last year I finally came up with my own.

Inspired by the Listening Card Race from Pianimation, this listening guide uses small visual cues and descriptors. This sheet is wonderful to use for student performances during group class to keep students engaged in listening to the music (and performance) actively.

My recommendation would be to go over the sheet first as a class and even do some demonstrations. With younger students, I sometimes even like to have them pronounce the words together to make sure they feel comfortable with the terms.

Laminating the sheets will keep them in good shape for repeated use. Sometimes we use dry-erase markers, but I prefer to simply have students use game markers such as pennies, Japanese erasers, or the clear flat marbles that you see.

Note: I don’t necessarily expect students to write down answers to the question of for “Mood,” etc.¬†They can simply be prepared with a verbal answer.

 

 

 

 

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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Book of Student Compositions

Free Printable

Recently I put together a book of my student’s compositions to display in my studio.

When visiting my friend Joy Morin’s studio during her piano teacher retreat, I noticed a book of student compositions she had sitting in her waiting area and thought it was a fun idea! She also wrote about it in a blog post about composing with beginner and elementary students. (It mentions the book of students compositions at the end of the post.)

Today I’m giving you a free printable of the binder cover I created so you can create your own book as well!

 

Why a Book of Compositions?

A few students in my studio absolutely love composing. Luckily, our state MTA hosts a composition festival every year called “Opus” where students can submit a composition and receive feedback from a judge. The winner in each age category then gets their composition submitted to the MTNA Composition Competition for free and gets to perform their composition at the next state conference in the winners’ recital.

Students put so much time and effort into their pieces,¬†displaying them keeps their work present and valued.¬†It’s also a great way¬†to help generate awareness of not only the Opus program but in composing¬†in general. Students could sit down at one of the studio keyboards and play through each other’s music!

 

A Glimpse of the Book

Keeping it simple, I used a 1″ 3-ring binder. Each composition was printed and placed in plastic sleeve covers. Compositions that were winners got an award seal sticker on it and I wrote the year it was the winning composition.

If you happened to catch the Facebook Live studio tour series recently, I showed a peek into this book on the day 3 tour starting at 5:55 in the video.


Download the Cover

 

 

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: