Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

emerson quote

“The secret of education is respecting the pupil.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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Presentation on iPad Apps for ToledoPTA

This morning, I gave a presentation for our Toledo Piano Teachers Association meeting.  TPTA is a small, very friendly group of teachers who are interested in learning new things.  We meet once a month and generally we take turns giving the programs — although occasionally we bring in outside guest speakers.

My topic was “iPad Apps for Piano Teachers.”  I began with some important introductory comments about responsible incorporation of technology into education, and then I launched into some of my favorite apps and what roles they play in the education process.  Most of the apps I talked about are ones that I have reviewed before here on my blog.

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It was a fun morning!  I always look forward to our monthly TPTA meetings.

Tech specs, for those interested: I used a $13 piece of software called Reflector to turn my MacBook into an AirPlay receiver.  My MacBook was connected to my projector using HDMI. (There are simpler ways to connect an iPad to a projector, but this was the cheapest/easiest way for me at the moment.)  Using AirPlay from my iPad means that I could walk around wirelessly with my iPad, which was nice.  AirPlay/Reflector requires that both the Macbook and the iPad be connected to the same network and I didn’t have internet access at the church, so I brought along my AirPort Express to create a non-Wifi network.  This kind of network is actually much more reliable than a Wifi network is, so that was a bonus.  I had to haul along a lot of stuff with me to make this all happen, but fortunately it worked pretty smoothly!

I’ve added this iPad presentation to my list of workshops on my personal website.  My next scheduled presentation will be during the Young Professionals Track on Pedagogy Saturday of the 2015 MTNA National Conference in Las Vegas next month.  My topic: “Harnessing the Power of the Internet: Blogging and Social Media for the Musician.” Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

plutarch quote

“A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.”

– Plutarch

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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Recommendation: Canva.com for Basic Graphic Work

Just a quick recommendation today:

For basic graphic design work, I highly recommend on website Canva.com.  Using a free account and the huge variety of templates available, you can create graphics for just about anything.  I’ve been using Canva as an inspirational starting point for many of my projects recently (Wednesday Words of Wisdom quotes, blog graphics, recital programs, etc) and I can’t say enough good about it!

Here is a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.50.17 PM

Within the site, you can use a large selection of graphics at no cost.  If you decide to use a piece of stock photograph/art within Canva, they each cost $1.  Very affordable, and the output looks great.

Happy creating!

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Recital Invitation & Program Template

My students and I are currently preparing pieces for our Spring Recital.  I like to schedule my recital early (March or April), to avoid the busy end-of-the-year season.

This year, I decided to design some simple recital invitations for students to share with family and friends.  I printed these myself on cardstock paper.

20150129_115454 NIKON web

I also designed a matching recital program that I will use that day.

Feel free to download the Microsoft Word template for the invitations/program design and use them yourself this year.  All you have to do is edit the text and add your own studio name/logo.  You recommend printing onto nice, heavy paper in the color of your choice.

  Piano Recital Program & Invitation - Template #5 (169.0 KiB, 820 hits)

You’ll find this along with other recital program template designs on the Printables > Other Resources page.  Enjoy!

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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!)  Read More »

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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!

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

duncan quote

“I do not teach children. I give them joy.”

– Isadora Duncan

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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iPad App Review: Piano Maestro

App Review: piano_maestro_iconPiano Maestro for *iPad only.*  FREE for teacher accounts and for students who are connected to a teacher account.

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.  Read More »

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“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. Read More »

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

gowen quote

“Teaching is the achievement of shared meaning.”

– D.B. Gowen

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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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.

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