Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.

— Virgil Thomson

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

Printables, Studio Business

Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment

Just added to the page of free Printables > Studio Business:

> Lesson & Payment Record Chart 2010-2011 (3 page pdf)

Summertime is a great time to do some planning for the next academic year of teaching!  As you can see, I’ve been keeping busy…..  This chart is designed for the 2010-2011 year in mind, starting in September.

What this chart records:

This chart provides a simple way to track student attendance/absences for lessons and tuition payments.

How to use this chart:

In the first column, enter your students’ names.  At each lesson, enter the lesson date (e.g., 9/14) corresponding with that week of lessons.  If the student misses a lesson for some reason, that box may be marked with a slash, or left blank so that the make-up lesson date may be later written in.  Any lessons that are paid for should be marked with a checkmark in each little circle.  Please see the up-close picture below for an example.

The 3 pages of this chart can be easily 3-hole punched and placed in a 3 ring binder, for maximum convenience when teaching.

I hope some of you find my chart useful!

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2017-18) (84.6 KiB, 23,106 hits)

improving as a teacher, Music Theory

Teaching Music Theory: Our Responsibility

I was talking to a parent after teaching a lesson yesterday, and she told me that her older daughter (who plays a few different band instruments, but is not currently taking piano lessons) is attending a band camp for high schoolers this week.  Upon arrival, the camp gave her daughter a theory placement test, and she scored a 2B (I’m not sure what leveling system they were using, but her mother had expected her to score higher).  Her mother was a little perturbed because she has paid for many years of lessons for her daughter, but only a few of her daughter’s past teachers taught theory as component of taking private lessons.  She wondered, shouldn’t my daughter have gotten more theory training than this?  What have I been paying all this money and time for?

This conversation got me thinking about our responsibility as teachers.  A basic definition of music theory is the study of how music works. A student having little understanding of theory is missing a huge piece of the pie.   Continue reading “Teaching Music Theory: Our Responsibility”

Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, Teaching Piano, Worksheets

Just Added: Scales & Primary Chords Worksheet 1 (CGDF)

Just added: a new free, printable worksheet called:

>  Scales & Primary Chords Worksheet 1 (CGDF)

Ideally, this worksheet is designed for the intermediate+ student who is already familiar with the scales and primary chords for the keys of C, G, D, and F major, and perhaps could use some review in writing them out on the staff.  However, this worksheet could also be used during a group lesson while introducing these ideas for the first time.

Terms/concepts covered in the worksheet:

  • An understanding of key signatures for C, G, D, and F major.
  • Practice writing out scales.
  • Practice writing out primary chords.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the S’s for “Scales & Primary Chords worksheet.”

Watch for the next worksheet coming soon, covering D, A, E, and Bb major!

Performances, Practice

Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Your hands are cold and shaky, your heart is racing, and you find it hard to breath.  Are you sick?  Are you having a nightmare?  No, you’re about to play your instrument in a recital, and the symptoms you are experiencing are due to performance anxiety — better known as stage fright.

Performance anxiety affects us all, to some degree or another.  Here are some things you can try out to help deal with your performance anxiety:

  • Practice performing. Play your pieces for other people whenever you can. It’s one thing to practice your pieces, but it’s another thing to practice performing. Ask other people to come in the room to make you nervous, and see how well you can handle running through you pieces.
  • Envision yourself succeeding. Envisioning yourself performing your piece well is extremely helpful. Do it as your practicing, as you’re not practicing, and as you are performing.  Doing so keeps your outlook positive and sets you up for success. Continue reading “Dealing with Performance Anxiety”
Resources

Survey on Motivation and Piano Playing

I recently recieved an email from a college student who is doing some research for a project about motivation and piano playing, and she could use your help!  Here’s what she has to say:

Hello everyone!  I am a student at Cape Breton University, Canada, and I am currently involved in conducting some research involving piano playing and motivation.  We have a survey that takes about 15 minutes to fill in, your participation in our study would be greatly appreciated!  Keep in mind that our survey is totally anonymous and is actually a good opportunity to engage in some self-reflection.  So if you are interested, go ahead and click the link below and it will take you directly to the survey.  Thanks so much!

http://faculty.cbu.ca/pmacintyre/musicsurveypiano.htm

Sincerely,  Gillian Potter & Dr. Peter MacIntyre

Performances

What to Say at Studio Recitals

Today’s post is in answer to a question I received from a reader via email:

I am giving my first ever piano recital this Sunday and I am unsure what I should say to parents at the recital.  Besides welcoming them, what sorts of messages are good? Thanks!

Personally, I don’t feel the need to give a long speech at piano recitals.  After all, the members of the audience — mostly parents and grandparents — are there to hear the kids play, not to hear you give an long, eloquent speech.  =)  Just keep it short and sweet, something like this:

“Hello everyone!  As many of you may know, my name is ___, and I’d like to welcome you to this year’s Spring Piano Recital!  This is the first year we’ve held a studio recital, and I am so pleased to have you all join us today.  I know the students are all very excited to play their pieces that they’ve been working so hard on.  Just a few brief announcements, and then we’ll get started.  First of all: did everyone recieve a recital program who would like one? [pass out a couple more if needed]  Secondly, immediately following the recital, we will take some time to take group photo of all the students.  You are welcome to take pictures during the recital as well, but please turn off the flash on your camera.  Thirdly — after the time for photos, please wander over to the fellowship room where there are punch and refreshments for you all to enjoy.  Alright, without further ado, we’ll get started with the recital, beginning with student’s name playing student’s piece.”  [start the applause]

If you get nervous talking in front of groups of people, make yourself a notecard with a short list of things to remember to say.  It could look something like this:

  • Hello and welcome; introduce myself
  • Announcements: 1) Did everyone get a recital program who would like one?
  • 2) After recital, photo time.
  • 3) After photo time, refreshments.
  • Welcome first student to play; start applause.

After all the students play, you can stand up once more if you desire, and say something like:

“That concludes our recital for this evening.  I’d like to say thank you to all the parents and grandparents here today for helping and supporting the students all year long with their practicing and for taking them to lessons.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  And students, you did a wonderful job tonight.  Let’s give all the students one more round of applause.  [applause]  Thank you all for coming!  Now we will have a time for photos and refreshments.”

I hope this is helpful to some of you, and I hope you all have (or have had) successful piano recitals this spring!

Photo credit: gordontarpley | CC 2.0

improving as a teacher, Motivation, Practice, Teaching Piano

My Thoughts on Practice Requirements

Many of you may remember being required by your piano teachers growing up to practice a certain amount of minutes each day/week.  Perhaps your requirement looked something like this:

  • 15 minutes a day,
  • 140 minutes each week, or
  • 45 minutes, 5 days a week.

One of my previous teachers built her incentive program around how much practice time each student completed each week.  She would set an amount for each student (15 minutes/day for the young ones, and then gradually increasing up to 60 minutes/day for the advanced ones).  If you completed all your practice time each week, you’d receive a sticker on your chart for that week.  When you received 7 consecutive weeks of completed practice, you were allowed to chose a prize from the prize box.  She used a system similar to the following:

  • Beginners: 10-20 minutes, 5 days a week (depending on their age).
  • Intermediate students: 20-45 minutes, 5 days a week.
  • Advanced students: 60 minutes or more a day, 5 days a week.

Personally, I use a simpler, more flexible practice requirement for my students.  I simply tell my students and parents that they are expected to practice daily.  And that’s it.  Here are my reasons why I like to leave it at that: Continue reading “My Thoughts on Practice Requirements”

Resources, Studio Business, Technology

Free Studio Website Builder: Weebly.com

Have you thought about starting a website for your studio, but felt that you didn’t have the resources or expertise to build one?  Check out Weebly.com — an attractive and easy-to-use online resource where you can create a website for free.

Personally, I currently use iWeb software (comes free on all Mac computers) to create and maintain my studio site.  However, Weebly sites are so attractive, I might make the switch someday!  I switched, and now I use Weebly for my studio website!

Some great features:

  • Extremely user-friendly. The drag-and-drop site builder is extremely easy to use, even for those who might not consider themselves to be very technologically savvy.
  • No software is needed. That means, no buying or installing software onto your computer.  Creating and maintaining your website is done completely online.
  • You can use a free ___.weebly.com domain name, or use your own domain name. Weebly is one of the few free website building sites that allow you use your own url (e.g., colorinmypiano.com) if you desire.  Just purchase one from a site such as Name.com (a year usually costs around $10).  If you don’t want to use your own domain name, for free you can just use yourname.weebly.com.
  • Attractive themes. Of all the free website building sites I’ve seen, Weebly by far creates the most attractive-looking sites.  They have tons of great customizable themes to choose from.

Here are some links to some studio websites that were created using Weebly, to get you inspired:

Good luck!  If you are successful in creating your own studio site using Weebly, be sure to share the link with us in the comments!