Reviews, Rhythm

App Review: Petronome

petronomeApp Review: Petronome for iPhone/iPad (FREE, or pay $0.99 to remove ads and add additional “pets”).

Petronome is just what is sounds like: a pet + a metronome. :) It is a fun app to use for rhythm activities with preschoolers or any young beginner student. (Thanks goes to blog reader Elaine for letting me know about this app!)  Continue reading “App Review: Petronome”

Motivation, Technique

Music Keys Incentive Idea for Scales, Arpeggios, Cadences

DSC_20130701_165441Piano teacher Patti Bennett from Georgia came up with an awesome way to use the music keys printable I created back in 2013 (see this post).  She kindly agreed to let me post her photos and details about her incentive idea today!

Patti has her students participate in Piano Guild Auditions in May, so she always has a big scale push beginning in January. This year, she was inspired to use the keys printable to create an entire incentive program to get her students enthused about learning their scales, cadences and arpeggios following the Guild requirements.

Major key challenge sign

bulletin board

Patti started by preparing packets of the keys for each student, cutting them out and placing them in Ziploc snack bags with their names.  There are five little bins for the major keys: one for one octave (white paper), one for two octave (beige paper), one for three octave (blue), one for four octave (red).  She also printed out sets for the minor keys.

keys on colored paper

She also created her own additional key cards for 10 hours of practice and for 5 pieces memorized.

key cards

As students master their scales and more by memory, they go to the bins, grab out their packet, locate the key and put it on their key ring on this bulletin board.  Patti says that the parents have been coming over as well, excited to watch this part.

bulletin board angle

Patti says that everyone is all smiles and eager to work on scales, as opposed to saying “do I have to work on scales”, or “I forgot to practice my scales” (sure you did) or whatever other excuse.

What a great way to inspire everyone to work hard on those scales and more!  ;)  Great job and thanks for sharing, Patti!

Reviews, Technology

iPad App Review: Piano Maestro

App Review: piano_maestro_iconPiano Maestro for *iPad only.*  FREE and paid accounts available for teachers. Students who are connected to a teacher account have available to content for free.

I’ve been meaning to write this review for a long time.  I wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already heard all about the Piano Maestro app for iPad!

If you are not already familiar with Piano Maestro, here’s how I would sum it up: Piano Maestro is an app for iPad that provides music for the student to play, listens to the student’s acoustic piano using the iPad’s microphone (no wires required, although if you prefer to hook it up to a keyboard with headphones, you can), and evaluates the student’s playing based on note accuracy and rhythm accuracy.  The student’s progress is saved over time and points are awarded, essentially “gamifying” the experience.  The developer, JoyTunes, is a team dedicated to piano education and listening to feedback from teachers.

Watch this 30-second video to see Piano Maestro in action:

When student accounts are connected to the teacher’s account, students have the flexibility of using their account via the teacher’s iPad during their weekly lessons or they can use their own iPad at home.

Piano Maestro has the potential to be a game-changer in your studio, depending on how you decide to incorporate it into your teaching.  Let’s first talk about the kinds of pieces available for students to learn in Piano Maestro.  Continue reading “iPad App Review: Piano Maestro”

repertoire / methods

“Un-Method” Books for Piano Students

Un-Methods for Piano StudentsAs a piano teacher, you have probably been in the situation where you felt that using your favorite traditional piano method might not be the best choice for a particular new student’s situation.

For example, perhaps you have a new student who already has experience reading music from school or band.  Or an older beginner with a great ear who is largely self-taught.  Or an adult student who is returning to piano lessons after a number of years.  Or perhaps you have an average-age beginner who isn’t thriving in their method books and would benefit from additional supplement.

For those special situations, it is useful to be familiar with some method book alternatives, which I fondly refer to as “un-methods.”  Un-methods are useful for creating structure in weekly piano assignments while maintaining the flexibility to round out the student’s curriculum with other styles of music they are interested in.  In my mind, an un-method must meet at least two out of these three criteria:

  • Uses on-staff note reading.
  • Little to no illustrations or text on the page.
  • All-in-one book, for the most part.

Below is my list of some un-methods that you might enjoy exploring!


Right From The Start, by Lynn Freeman Olson (Fischer)

3786474_01downloadAs the cover states, this thin volume is a “rapid piano reader.”  Teachers who appreciate a landmark (aka interval) reading approach will appreciate the way this on-staff book begins: by teaching Bass F, Middle C, and Treble G.  The book provides a solid, no-nonsense approach.  I think it is a great book that truly leaves the teaching up to the teacher!

By the end of this 30-page book, students are playing basic rhythms (no eighth notes, unfortunately) within quarter note meters (3/4 and 4/4 time), a variety of articulations (staccato, legato) and notes covering the entire grand staff.

View it on Amazon or SheetMusicPlus.com. Continue reading ““Un-Method” Books for Piano Students”

Giveaways

Giveaway Winners

2014

Just a quick blog post today, announcing the winners of last month’s giveaway for hardcopies of the student piano solo composition I wrote.

Congrats to Carmen, Kristie, and Martyn!  I’ll be in touch by email to request your address.

A free digital PDF download of the Holiday Parade piece is available here.

Announcements

A Few Updates

Don’t forget — today is the last day to enter the giveaway for hardcopies of my Holiday Parade elementary level solo with teacher duet!  Click here.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been gradually adding more recommendations to my list of piano duets for sight-reading.  Check out this popular post from last year here.

Another old post I’ve been updating is from 2010: Over 20 Musical Spins on Favorite Games.  There are links to Diatonic Dominoes, a new version of Musical Sorry, and more.

Technology, Worksheets

Digital Worksheet: Matching Staff to Keyboard

Remember this set of worksheets (Matching Staff to Keyboard worksheets) I posted a couple of weeks ago?

20141205_134356 NIKON

At the suggestion of a reader (thanks, Elaine!), I have created a new digital version.

Staff to Keyboard Matching - digital worksheet

Using an annotating app such as GoodNotes (my review here), you can upload the PDF to your iPad and have students complete the worksheets digitally.  It’s a great way to coach students through a concept while saving paper.

Goodnotes digital worksheets

The PDF contains 20 pages, each with 3 notes that must be matched to the keyboard.

Download link here: 

  Matching Staff to Keyboard -- Digital Worksheets (307.2 KiB, 3,840 hits)

You can find the other digital worksheets I have created for tablet here.

Studio Business

Digital Version: Spreadsheet for Payments Received

Numbers-icon

For the past couple of years, I’ve been using a form I created using Microsoft Word to track payments received from piano students each month.  I printed a new sheet each month (that way I could update the student roster list each month as it inevitably evolves), inserted it into my three-ring binder, and then penned in the details about each payment.  Here is what that form looks like:

Record of Payments Received

numbers(Click here for details about downloading that form.)

For the past few months, I’ve been testing out a new digital version of this form using Apple’s Numbers app on my MacBook.  The advantage of this system is that if I save the document in iCloud, I can edit the spreadsheet from my iPad in the Numbers app.  Thanks to iCloud, everything stays synced.  I am loving this system so far!

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.57.26 PM

Continue reading “Digital Version: Spreadsheet for Payments Received”