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.
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.
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.
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 includea 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!)
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 happywith the results.
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.)
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.
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 CENTERis continuing to see changes as Dr. PamelaPike 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.
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.
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.
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 theMTNA 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 stickeron it and I wrote the year it was the winning composition.
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.
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.
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.
Hey there! Welcome to Piano Pantry where we talk about piano teaching, loving food, and living life. I'm Amy, my husband Drew and I live in Indiana. My favorite things include Mexican food, reading, organizing, and spending time with those I love.