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!

Today I’m giving you a free printable of the binder cover.

 

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:

 

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!

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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.

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Favorite Hymn and Praise Piano Books

and a Church-Music Themed Recital

Have you ever done a themed-recital?

Two years ago I decided I wanted to start doing themed recitals on occasion.  My Spring recital sometimes has a partial theme, but I wanted something that was a 100% all-in theme. Participation is optional for students, but both times I have had nearly 75% of my students participate. Mid-October seems to be a good time, right before Fall break.

My first one was a “color” theme. That recital happened prior to Piano Pantry so I don’t have a post about it  – maybe someday. 🙂 This year, since so many of my students are already using their skills in church, it felt like the right time to do a “church-music” theme.

Today I’m going to share with you a few highlights from our recital as well as some of my favorite resources for church music repertoire for students. Be sure and share your favorites in the comments!

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Three-in-One: A Review of Little Gems for Piano 

(and an MLT-based Application)

As I was driving to my studio this morning I was thinking about the early years of piano instruction. While they’re often the hardest for parents and children to get through, the first few months and years are the most important for several reasons.

First, we must engage our music students in a way that fosters a love of and a successful experience at making music. Second, we must develop a healthy technique so they have freedom at the piano from the start. Third, we need to introduce students to a variety of sounds, tonalities, and meters so they can hear, think, and engage in music with understanding. 

That’s a whole lot of goodness wrapped up into a student’s first experience at the piano!

Today I’m to going to share my thoughts on a book called Little Gems for Piano and how rote pieces like these can cover all three of these critical areas in one. We will focus especially on the last one as it is part of the philosophy I am slowing working to incorporate in my teaching called Music Learning Theory (MLT) by the late Dr. Edwin Gordon. Continue reading

Piano Safari 

Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide

Piano Safari has been a method on my radar since the first version of the books came out. I've known about it since (I'm guessing) 2008. Julie Knerr, one of the authors, went to grad school with a girl I did my undergrad studies with (they may have even been roommates-I can't remember for sure). My friend told me about the method, and I haven't looked back.

I was drawn to Piano Safari due to my disappointment with the technique books on the market. I hated them to be quite frank. I didn't feel they were effective and they were...well, what they were - exercises - and boring to boot. Even though most technique books do correlate with what the students are learning in the lesson book, I never felt the transfer of learning happened.

It wasn't until 2013 that I started using the method heavily. With the increased use came the desire to maximize on the "fun" of the safari theme more with stuffed animals.

Building up my safari-theme animal collection was a bit of a chore! I remember asking the authors where they got theirs but mostly I was on my own finding them. Today, I hope to help YOUR search a little easier than mine.

I'll be sharing not only where I purchased the animals but why they're a good investment, how I use and even store them.

piano-safari-tree-frog

 

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Course Review 

Creating a Studio Policy and Sticking to It!

I am pleased to post my first review on this blog!

I’ve been a long time follower and fan of Jennifer Foxx over at Music Educators Resources. She has developed a new course, “Creating a Studio Policy and Sticking to it!” I love that title because policy development is not just about creating a policy, it’s about implementing and not being afraid, as she says, to “stick to it.”

My first impression as soon as I logged in was that both the program itself and the platform it’s presented on are very clean, simple and professional-looking. I love that! It’s very easy to navigate. When you log in, you can see how much of the course you have completed.

mer-3

Modules

The curriculum is a set of 7 video modules ranging from 2-minutes to 37-minutes. The videos follow a nice Powerpoint as Jennifer talks you through the program.

Modules include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Policy Myths and Benefits
  3. Tips on Creating Your Studio Policies
  4. What Should a Policy Include?
  5. Understanding Conflicts and Resolving Confrontations
  6. How to Say NO and Have it Stick
  7. Create Win-Wins.

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