YQA: What Do You Use After Piano Safari 3?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 


Hi Amy,

I’m really enjoying your posts, especially Friday Finds!

Regarding method books, my question is: what do you use after Piano Safari, level 3? Or do you design your own curriculum?

Many thanks, as always for your help.

Warmly,

-MJP


Hi, MJP!

As far as method books go, I am definitely a zigzagger. Rarely do I put a student in one method book series covering books 1-2-3 back-to-back.

Sometimes that works just fine and can certainly give the student a feeling of progress by “moving to the next level.”

I find many students, however, transition better through levels if I either supplement between each one for a few weeks (or months) or even cover the same “level” in two different book series. For example, I might have a student finish Piano Safari Level 1 then do Piano Adventures Level 1 before moving into Piano Safari Level 2.

One thing to keep in mind is that (with the Piano Adventures series in particular), I’m not one to give students both the Lesson and Performance books. I usually just do one or the other, especially if I’m weaving it between levels of another series.

In answering your more specific question on what I would do after Piano Safari 3, I often go to Piano Adventures 3B or into a repertoire series such as Celebration Series Repertoire Level 2.

(The authors of Piano Safari say that book 3 transitions nicely into Celebration Series Repertoire Level 3 but I always find doing a little in C.S. book 2 first a nice transition.)

Piano Safari 3 covers Major and Minor keys and technical skills in the keys of C/Am, G/Em, F/Dm. Piano Adventures 3B focus on the minor keys only.

Here’s an example scenario.

  1. Piano Safari 2 (5-finger patterns)
  2. Piano Adventures 2B (Chords)
  3. Piano Adventures 3A (One-Octave major scales/keys of C, G, F)
  4. Piano Safari 3 (Two-Octave scales/keys of C/Am, G/Em, F/Dm)
  5. Piano Adventures 3B (Two-Octave scales/keys of Am, Em, Dm)

This may be a little excessive example overlapping however, something like this might work for a student who is professing a little slower. Also, as I said previously, keep in mind this would just include one book in the P.A. series (such as lesson or performance)

I hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!

~Amy

 


Reader friends, do you have any suggestions?

MJP and I would love to hear where you take your students when they finish Piano Safari Level 3. Please share in the comments!

 


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YQA: Specifics on my “À La Carte-Style” Adult Lessons

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

 


I’ve been a regular reader and subscriber of your blog for ages!

I’m working on a website reboot for my studio over the summer and have been browsing other teachers’ websites to get ideas.

I read your blurb about adult lessons and really liked the way you have it set up with 6 weekly lessons over 8 weeks. Would you mind if I borrow that setup and use it with my own adult students?

If you’ve got a moment to respond, I’d love to know how you handle specifics of that setup – do you have the adults come at the same time each week for their lesson, or offer flexibility on time slot as well? Any specific wording that you’ve found works well to communicate those policies?

Thanks for your help and for all the great tips over the years!

-VR

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YQA: Light but Fun Composing Ideas for Summer

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

This question was posed in reaction to another Your Questions Answered post regarding Summers Lesson and Curriculum.

 

Love-love-love your posts they are so helpful.

Like you, I’m getting ready for Summer Lessons. I try to change things up for the Summer and this year I’m introducing more about composing. I started introducing this the last semester of this year but I want to do a lot more over the Summer.

What ideas do you have to teach composing on a light level but keeping it fun?

What other kinds of things do you do over the Summer?

Also, I have two 4 -year old girls starting this Summer any really fun ideas for them?

Sorry I know that’s a lot of questions but you always have great ideas.

Thanks Again,

Frances

 

​​Hi, Frances!

​A few resources I’ve used in the past include:

​The main thing I think is important is giving them small parameters such as what meter, how many measures, key, mood, etc., and to keep them short. Many of these resources do just that.

​As far as your second question goes regarding fun ideas for 4-year old beginners, the first thing that comes to mind is to spend a lot of time off-bench singing and moving and doing activities such as drawing a picture that “sounds like this little song we’re going to learn”.

My favorite tool for preschool students is Music Moves for Piano’s Keyboard Games Book A. The pieces are very short – only 4 measures and focus on students simply playing to a beat and learning patterns – not reading notes. You will likely want to purchase the teacher book as well however if it’s your first time trying the series.

I’ve also used with success in the past resources from both Trevor and Andrea Dow’s Wunderkeys and Faber’s My First Piano Adventures however, Music Moves remains my favorite because it encourages the most “musicing.” That is, singing and movement, not just reading notes.

I hope this gives you a little bit of a springboard for some more ideas! Congrats on the new students and good luck!

~Amy

 


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YQA: Purging Old College Notes and Professional Magazines

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself bring to me. 

 

Dear Amy –

Help!

I have these enormous binders from college many years ago.

I know I need to toss a lot of it, but there are definitely resources in there I don’t want to get rid of (and would love to make more easily accessible to review).

Any advice?

-CW

 

Hey, CW!

I would hedge a guess many-a-teachers are nodding their heads in agreement – me being one of them. Ha!

You’re beating me to this task as it’s one I’ve also had on my list for years but never seems to move up in importance. Bravo to you for tackling it!

That being said, last year I went through a similar purge of all my MTNA American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion magazines.

8 years’ worth and something like 5 magazine file boxes were weighing me down mentally. Why? Because how does someone utilize any of that information or recall what they need to from stacks (or binders) of information.

You don’t!

That’s when you decide (as we did) that enough was enough.

How did I tackle it?

A little at a time – not putting pressure on myself to use one of my days off to do it all.

I placed a small stack next to the couch and every day – either first thing in the morning during my brief quiet reading time or at the end of the day’s downtime – I would flip through one or two magazines.

It’s surprising how much I remembered what articles I enjoyed and found benefit in. (It helped that the first time I read them years ago, I folded down the page on my favorite articles. 🙂 )

Step #1 – Find a time frame that works that feels achievable, not overwhelming.

Step #2 – Flip through, skim, and determine what is most beneficial moving into the future. (Have high standards – only the best information/articles. For me, that was no more than 1 or 2 per magazine – sometimes none!)

Next, I used the Scannable app to scan the articles. (Genius Scan is another favorite app for scanning).

When you scan with Scannable, you can choose to save it in either PDF or image format into Evernote, or “send” it into another program.

So, even though Scannable is an Evernote product, you could use it to scan items and send to any of your file managers such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive.

Step #3 – Scan and save in the digital management place that works best for you.

Remember that simply saving articles digitally will not do you any more good than the physical ones if you don’t make them easily accessible – that is, easily searchable).

One of the reasons I absolutely adore Evernote is because Evernote Premium gives you additional search powers. It can search the text of PDFs as well as your handwriting on hand-written notes! I find that amazing (and incredibly helpful).

Without Evernote Premium, it will only search the titles of notes and text typed in the notes themselves.

If you don’t want to pay for Premium, or if you prefer to use a cloud file manager such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive to save all of your stuff, the best way around this would be to make sure you title the document thoroughly for what it’s about.

Sometimes I add additional words outside of the title – ones that I might use when searching for information on that particular topic. This will make it much more searchable in whatever digital storage place you use.

Here’s an example (from an online article/resource):

Natalie Weber has a composition resource called “The Psalms Project.” I might title the file name (or Evernote note) like this:

The Psalms Project_Composition_Composing

Otherwise, if I saved that PDF file and was looking in my digital files for a composing activity, using the word “composition” is not in the original article title.

I hope that makes sense!

If you use Evernote, you can also tag every item with a multitude of things. So I might tag that one note with the tags:

composition, bible, summer camp

Then, that one note/file will show up under each category without being duplicated in Evernote.

Step #4 – Make sure the materials you are converting to a digital format are easily searchable and thus useful.

Once you make your choice of what’s worth keeping. The last part may feel a little difficult…

Trash the rest.

It’s time.

You didn’t look at it for 10 years anyway, right?

Is it really that important?

I don’t think so.

Feel the weight lift from your shoulders? Ahhh…

Sweet relief.

Step #5 – Let it go. The trash is your friend. 

P.S. Please recycle.

P.S.S. If you’re interested in diving into all the great ways that Evernote can work for you and your business, check out the Evernote for Independent Music Teachers series here on Piano Pantry.

 

~Amy

 

Please note that Piano Pantry is an affiliate for Evernote which simply means I earn a small percentage back if you sign up using my link at no extra cost to you. See all disclosures here.

 


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YQA: Summer Lessons and Curriculum

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

 


What curriculum do you teach in the summer?  Do you keep the student going in their regular curriculum or do you use something different to give them a break?

I love your idea of 6 lessons in 7 weeks and I would love more info on how you set it up.

Thanks,

PM

 

Dear P,

Those are some great questions and I would be happy to share a little more info!

I don’t have a set curriculum I teach in the Summer. For the most part, I just keep going with whatever students are working on but it’s always quite relaxed and there is no Classical repertoire involved unless the student specifically wants it.

Usually, I try to do a lot of pop tunes, Disney, chord charts, really anything the student is interested in. For several years I held a studio-wide outdoor picnic performance and it was fun to play that kind of music in that environment.

The 6 lessons in 7 weeks have worked perfectly for me ever since I’ve opened my studio. Depending on how my late July looks, I’ve even done 6 lessons over 8 weeks or 7 lessons over 8 weeks (you get the idea).

It’s nice to give flexibility to families in the Summer and I prefer to have a lighter schedule myself. Because of my preference for a light summer, I also do not require students to take summer lessons. I strongly recommend it for the first 3 years but don’t require it.

If they opt not to take summer lessons, however, I do have a $30 non-refundable holding fee in order to keep their spot for fall lessons. I can’t replace my income for those two months if they don’t take lessons because I can’t take on new students that I don’t have space for in the fall.

This is a great way to still have a little extra income while maintaining a lighter summer schedule.

The summer tuition fee is paid for in one payment (due by the first lesson) however, on occasion, if a family requests, I will let them make it in two payments. My fee is the same “per lesson” rate as the school term although I don’t advertise “per lesson” rates – that’s just how I calculate my fees.

I only advertise an all-encompassing rate – so an annual rate for the school term and a summer rate. From there, they have payment options of annual, semester, or monthly. I think it’s good to keep the focus on the big picture fee and not on the per month (and especially not a per lesson) fee.

If you would like to see an example of my most recent announcement to my studio regarding Summer lessons, you can download the PDF here. I write it out in a document basically for my own historical archives but copied and pasted the text into an email.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

 

~Amy

 

 


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YQA: Awards “Catch-up”?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

This question was posed in reaction to two posts on giving out studio awards at the end of the school year:

Studio Awards: Policies and Procedures
Studio Awards Update (including some awesome trophies!)

 


Dear Amy,

I love your awards ideas and would love to implement it in my studio but have a couple of questions.

  1. If you have a transfer student, do you count the years they studied elsewhere in your calculations?
  2. If you were to start implementing this after your studio has been running awhile, would you play catch up with all the students and their trophies or just start in the current year? I would have several on the legacy award at this point.

I am excited that the students will have something else to strive for even if they don’t compete in the Federation or state exams.

Thank you for your input and thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with all of us.

Blessings,

-SL

 

Hi, S,

Wow, these are GREAT questions! Here’s how I would handle each scenario:

In answer to your first question:

Transfer students receive their “Music Study” award based on how long they’ve been taking lessons – it’s about commitment – not just the time with you.

That being said, the “Legacy Award” IS about time with you. So, if you were to use that particular award in your studio and you had a transfer student that has been taking for 8 years (or however long you set your legacy award for), they would not get the legacy award – just the Music Study award for 8 years.

In answer to your second question, I have a two-part answer depending on what your question is asking…

If you’re asking if I would play catch-up as in giving them “back” awards, then no, I would not. That could, however, depend on how many students you have. If you have a really small studio and it won’t cost you a lot of money to do so, then certainly you could consider it. I think if you simply announce it’s a new program and from here on out, I would be surprised if anyone complained that you didn’t give them 3 trophies as “back pay”.

If you’re asking if I would play catch-up as in starting students at whatever year they’re at even if they haven’t received awards in the previous year awards then yes, I would. If a student has been with you for 4 years then they get an award for 4 years, even if this is the first year you’ve given awards.

I hope that makes sense and good luck with creating your own studio award program!

~Amy

 

 


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YQA: Music Lab Time for Young Students

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

 


Do you have a certain age range that you have created your Piano Pantry Lab items for? Do you think 2nd graders would do fine watching the videos (like the 1st Halloween one that is 10 minutes)?

I only had one student today so I got to hear her feedback on the two videos of the organ and the wine glasses from page 1 of your Halloween videos. It was fun to see how excited she was about it!

Keep creating wonderful materials to help us teach our students. Love all that you do!

-LS

 

 

Hi, L!

I’m so glad to hear your student was enjoying the Halloween lab!

As far as the age range, lab time can definitely be trickier with students younger than 3rd grade. As I’m sure you have experienced, they have a hard time working on their own without you helping with every step. So, yes, most of the labs I have available work better for mid-elementary students or older.

That being said, sometimes it can depend on the student. I’ve had 1st or 2nd graders that do better than 3rd graders on their own!

My lab time for younger students is always shorter than most – 15 minutes is usually enough for them.

I still use many of my lab resources – like the Halloween video series you mentioned – but pick and choose which ones to assign. Shorter ones under 5 minutes or ones that are visually appealing like the animated version of Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns work nicely.

In instances like this, rather than simply having them watch, I always give them a blank notebook when giving listening and ask them to color what they hear.

Several of the videos from Set 1 of the Music Theory video series are also good for younger student’s lab time.

One other thing I sometimes do with young students is listening to enriching music while coloring in their own personal art books. Check out more details in these posts:

Friday Finds: Productivity Tools and Simple Songs 

Inspiring Creativity with Student Art Books

Other programs I’ve used in the past with success during lab time for young students include:

Sproutbeat (which just went through an awesome update, merging their worksheets and games apps!)
Music Learning Lab Pro

Ningenius
My Orchestra App from Naxos
Beanie’s Musical Instruments
TuneTrain
Pitch Painter
Rhythm Swing

I hope this helps!

~Amy

 


P.S. If you would like to get a closer look into how I run my labs, you might check out the Music Labs Made Easy ebook!

This 15-page eBook is chock full of all kinds of “pro tips”.

We’ll talk about scheduling, set-up, and organizing labs.

Laid out in an easy-to-read and understand format, this book will answer all your questions regarding music lab time!

 


P.S.S.

In celebration of the 5-year anniversary of Piano Pantry, everything in the shop (including the eBook!) is 15% off through the end of March 2021.

Visit the Piano Pantry Shop

 


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YQA: Advanced Arrangements of Sacred Music

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

 


Hi.

I have searched the internet for decades, always looking for sacred piano arrangements that are very very advanced level. I play all of Rudy Atwood’s and Harold DeCou’s piano arrangement solos, and have wanted new material.

The problem is that no matter what piano book or piano sheet music I look at on the internet, all of them are too easy, and bore me, since they are not a challenge to me at all. I am looking for titles of piano arrangement books of sacred music, whether classical or jazz style.

Do you know the names of some advanced enough music books, or the names of some Christian piano arrangers who still have this kind of music in print to where I could order it?

I hold concerts at times, and find that it’s hard to find new music that is advanced as I am looking for. It almost seems to me so far, that it was more in the 50’s-70’s when this type of music was published.

Nowdays the big name seems to be for instance, “Hal Leonard”, etc, and their music is way too easy for me. I love the hard stuff, where it takes me time to work it out, instead of material that I can play right on the spot with no challenge to it.

If you have any ideas of where I could find (for sure) material this advanced, would you please let me know? Please don’t send me to all these many many sites I have looked under for hours and hours, never to find.

Also, I am the type where I need to be able to view a sample of the music, so I know what I’m ordering, to make sure it’s not too easy, and a lot of them do not show samples.

If you have any ideas, would you please email me back? Thank you. I know I’m asking a lot.

-Sincerely Yours, M

 

Hi, M,

I do have some suggestions and am happy to help!

The first group is books that I have played over the years and enjoyed. Phillip Keveren and Mark Hayes have always been my go-to but I would say Mark Hayes verges on having more advanced arrangments that you are likely looking for.

I agree with you that it can be really frustrating to be looking for music and not be able to preview it – especially when we’re in 2020! To help you out, I did a little searching for each book I’ll list here and I will link to it ONLY if the location has a preview available. 🙂

I find JW Pepper and Alfred both do pretty good in some instances with offering previews. Sheet Music Plus sometimes as well, but not always.

  • Worship with a Touch of Jazz by Phillip Keveren (jazzy arrangements of more contemporary – but still older – worship songs)
  • Well-Tempered Jazz by Mark Hayes (wonderful jazzy arrangements of older hymns and gospel songs)
  • Well-Tempered Praise III by Mark Hayes (Simple Gifts / I Need Thee Every Hour, etc.)
  • Praise Classics by Mark Hayes (older choruses like Bind Us Together, As the Deer, etc.)
  • Open My Heart to Worship by Mark Hayes (more contemporary – but still older – worship songs like Above All  and Open the Eyes of My Heart)

The three books linked above are to JW Pepper’s website, but the last two books by Mark Hayes are also available for preview on Alfred’s website. It appears there is another book he has as well called “Gospel Classics” that also has a preview available on Alfred’s website.

This next group of books are ones that I’m familiar with but have not played from a lot myself. I think you may find these even closer to what you’re looking for here as they’re quite virtuosic!

  • Marilyn Hamm has some wonderful advanced arrangements. If you visit her page on the Alfred publishers website and click on each individual book, they do give you Sample Pages under the Product Description. In the past, I have played some from an older book of hers – “One Lord, One Faith”. You can preview that particular book on Sheet Music Plus and JW Pepper.
  • Dino Kartsonakis is an incredibly OLD arranger to name, so there aren’t a lot of purchase options out there except on eBay (I searched “Dino Kartsonakis Piano Sheet Music”). The book I grew up with and remember I managed to find here, but there is no preview. I can attest, however, that his music was incredibly virtuosic!!
  • Jesus Shall Reign by Victor Labenske (One of my adult students played out of this book and it was fairly virtuosic from what I remember but there is no preview online.)

I really hope you can find something that works well with what you’re looking for. Best of luck!

~Amy

 


Articles you may find useful:

 

 


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YQA: Evernote Basic or Premium?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

 


Hi, Amy,

I saw that there are three levels of Evernote to choose from.
Is the free version worth trying?

I definitely want to get more than my feet wet with Evernote (perhaps knees??? lol!), but I’m not sure which version to start with.

Do I need the Business level? Can you give me one or two differences between Basic and Premium please?

Organization is not my forte….

-AH

 

Hey, A,

I get it. Things like this can be confusing!

There are currently three plans for Evernote:

  1. Evernote Basic (FREE)
  2. Evernote Premium ($7.99/month)
  3. Evernote Business ($14.99/user/month)

As an independent music teacher, you definitely do not need Evernote Business unless you have a team of teachers you want to have access.

In comparing Basic and Premium, there are two big items independent teachers like yourself would benefit from considering:

 1. SPACE:  How much will you be using it?
(A question you can’t really answer until you use it.)

Basic = 60 MB of uploads per month
Premium = 10GB  of uploads per month

2.  DEVICE LIMIT: How many devices will need access?
(Desktop, tablet, phone, etc.)

Basic = 2 devices
Premium = Unlimited

The short answer to your first question is YES, it is worth trying Evernote Basic for free, of course! It won’t hurt to start there.

It’s no big deal to upgrade if you begin to find that you need more space, devices, or want more features.

A few features of the extra features I use and love that Premium offers but Basic doesn’t:

  • Annotating directly on PDFs.
  • Search the text of PDFs. (When you do a search, it will search the text – including handwriting – inside PDFs and Office Docs.)
  • Forwarding emails directly into Evernote.

Here is a great comparison chart on all these features and details from Evernote.

Good luck and I hope you find Evernote to be a useful tool in your professional and daily life as I do!

 

~Amy

P.S. Evernote is offering 40% off premium through 2/4/2021!

If you haven’t signed up yet, please consider using my link! 🙂

 


Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that Piano Pantry is part of the Evernote Community affiliate program which simply means I get a very small percentage from Evernote sign-ups (or upgrades) that come via my website (at no extra cost to you). Since I provide free content, this small amount means a lot. Thank you for your support!

 

 


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YQA: RSS and Your Secret Letter

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

It was posted by a reader after reading this post here on Piano Pantry: Managing Internet Content the Easy Way.

 


Hi, Amy!

I’m trying to set up my RSS reader so I can get my email under control.

If I add Piano Pantry to my RSS reader and unsubscribe my email, will I still get the Secret Letters?  I don’t want to mess everything up!

Thanks!

-LB

 

Hey, L!

Yea for RSS! You’re going to love it. I’m also glad to hear you’re enjoying the Secret Letters and don’t want to miss them! 🙂

That being said, if you unsubscribe from my email list, you will NOT get the Secret Letters. That’s why they’re called “Secret.” 😉 They’re not available to find anywhere online and only go to those on the email list.

RSS is about feeding new blog posts into one spot so you can visit one website and see all the new content from your favorite websites at one time.

I still stay subscribed to a lot of email lists because most of them nowadays send more than just blog post updates. To keep all of those subscriptions out of my inbox I use Unroll.me which I then set up to send me a Daily Digest.

~Amy

 

It’s all so confusing!  How does one know if it’s an email list or a blog post update?  I suppose I will have to figure it out!  I’ll take a look at Unroll.me.  My inbox is out of control at the moment.  I was doing well in the email department but somehow I got behind and now it’s a MESS!

One more question for you – how do you remember where to find something later?  It might be in the RSS reader, it might be in an email, it might have been in a Facebook group.

Do you have a way to put what you glean all in one place so you aren’t trying to remember where you saw it?  No way do I have enough brainpower to remember all that!  (I’m guessing you might say Evernote, but I still thought I’d ask!)

-LB

 

Hey again!

Great question and yes, it CAN be confusing!

You can’t always know until you sign up for a list, what types of emails they will be sending. If you notice a subscription is only sending you posts to your inbox (and you’re already seeing new posts in your RSS reader), then you can unsubscribe.

RSS isn’t so much about completely getting rid of all of your newsletter subscriptions as it is giving you a place to read website content in one location rather than relying on your time in your email to be when you see and read new content.

As far as saving and retrieving your favorite articles for later, Feedly (my RSS Reader), allows you to save (and search) articles – so that’s one good option. You can also send articles from Feedly directly into Evernote.

I try to be very picky about saving too many blog articles, but if I do, you are correct – I save them into Evernote then tag that note by whatever it’s about such as “group lessons” “apps” “lesson planning” etc.

The search function of programs like Feedly and Evernote is really great so you really don’t have to get super caught up in labeling and tagging articles too much. Just type a keyword into the search box and it will usually find it.

 


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