Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, seasonal / holiday, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Musical Leaves Matchup game

This is a short music game I created as a way to reinforce the names of the piano keys with young beginners.  It only takes a few minutes to play, but my students seemed to enjoy it.  It gives them a break from the usual drill I do, where I have them find 3 different C’s on the piano, etc.  :)

Here’s how it works:

You’ll need to buy fabric or foam leaves and mark each with a letter from the musical alphabet using a marker or felt tip pen.  The student is instructed to match each leaf to it’s spot on the tree, until the whole tree is filled.  The game only takes a few minutes, so it’s a great game to do on the piano bench at the beginning or end of a piano lesson.

Any leftover fabric leaves can be used to decorate your Thanksgiving day table in a few weeks.  :)

To Download: go to the Printables > Games page and scroll down to “Musical Leaves Matchup game.”

improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A: Lesson Planning for Private Lessons

It’s been a while since we had a Forum Q&A!  Sometimes I run out of ideas for discussion topics, so if you ever have a question you’d like to see addressed here to get other teachers’ input, please let me know.  :)

Last time, we discussed the role of the parent in private lessons.  We received some well-thought responses, so thanks for that!  Click here to read them, and remember, it’s never too late to add your thoughts.

Here’s today’s discussion topic: Lesson planning!  Here’s a few questions to get you thinking:

Do you create lesson plans for the private piano lessons you teach?  Why or why not?  If you do create lesson plans, what is your process?  How much time do you spend lesson planning each week?  Is your method feasible for even if you full studio of say, 20+ students? 

Although I’ve been teaching privately for over 6 years now, I still don’t feel I have a good system for lesson planning.  Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory for knowing where in their books my students are at any given time.  However, I have a feeling that eventually if I get over 20 students to keep track of, this would be become much more difficult.  I need to keep better records so I can be more effective in preparing to introduce new concepts to my students before the method book does!  I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic.  :)

Photo Credit: Bright Meadow | CC 2.0

Early Childhood Music, improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Teaching Piano

9 Tips for Teaching Piano To Young Ages

As piano teachers, we wear many hats.  School teachers often teach only one age group, or a few age groups.  Piano teachers are usually expected to be able to teach from age 5 to 95!  But as we all know, teaching a 5-year-old is much different from teaching a 15-year-old, or a 55-year-old.  :)

In recently thinking about this challenge of being able to effectively teach various age levels and maturities, I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years about teaching young ages — I’m thinking, ages 6 and under.  I learned some of these things from an Early Childhood Music course I took during grad school and various piano pedagogy courses — but I learned many of these things purely from experience.  Here goes:

  1. Don’t ask questions that you don’t really want answers to.  Examples: “Did you like that?” or “Do you want to try it on your own now?”  Sometimes if given the option to opt out of something, children will say “no” simply because you’ve given them a choice.  :)  It’s better to make statements.
  2. Give them time to think.  When you ask a question, wait for them to process and compose a response.  Sometimes we ask questions and then blow right on without getting an answer.  Young children need this think time.  If you don’t really want to wait for an answer, then don’t ask the question in the first place.  Continue reading “9 Tips for Teaching Piano To Young Ages”
Composition, Music Theory, Printables

Staff Paper – Large Staff for Simple Compositions

With my Piano Readiness Class, we’ve been learning about staff notation.  Last week, each student composed a mini-composition on the piano and then we together notated the piece.  We used colorful markers to label the notes (A, B, C, etc) and also wrote in finger numbers, so they can continue playing their compositions at home.  They loved the idea of being composers!

This is the sheet paper we used to notate our compositions.  Young students tend to draw rather large notes :) , so I left plenty of room between the lines of the staff.

To download, visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Staff Paper — Large Staff for Simple Compositions.”

Announcements, Games, Group Classes, Music Theory, Resources, Teaching Piano, Technique

Recent Purchases: Scale Blocks & A Technique Monkey

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for creative and inexpensive items for my teaching.  The dollar store is one of my favorite places to go!

In the craft aisle at Dollar Tree right now, there are packages of foam cubes, as shown in the picture.  I’ve always wanted to make scale blocks like Natalie Wickham’s, but have never got around to buying the wood blocks and paint.  These foam cubes seem like a pretty good alternative, although they may not last as long I suppose.  On the upside, it doesn’t take long to write the alphabet letters on these little cubes with a marker!  I am going to go back to buy a couple more packages, so I can make a nice set of scale blocks using the orange colored cubes.   Continue reading “Recent Purchases: Scale Blocks & A Technique Monkey”

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Musical Alphabet Cards

There are others who have shared alphabet card printables similar to what I’m posting today, but I’m adding mine to the mix anyway.  :)  I wanted some that would work well to print onto colored cardstock paper.  Since I don’t have a color printer, this is an easy way I can still get colorful things to use with my students!

I used these cards with my new weekly Homeschool Music Class (just started last week, thanks to Sheryl’s recent post at her Notable Music Studio blog) and with my Piano Readiness Class.  My students LOVED making “musical alphabet snakes” in order to learn how the musical alphabet is different from the regular alphabet.  Included in the pdf is a card which outlines some other possible activities to do using the cards.  These activities work great in both group settings and private lessons.

Do you have some other activities to share that involve alphabet cards?  Share them in the comments!

To Download: visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to the M’s for Musical Alphabet Cards.

  Musical Alphabet Cards (275.9 KiB, 11,393 hits)

Announcements, Studio Business

Halloween Candy = Opportunity for Free Marketing

Thanks to the wonderfully helpful ideas that YOU all submitted in reply to the Forum Q&A last month about advertising, this year for Halloween I am passing out candy that has a note with my studio name and information on it!

I created these tags in Microsoft Word and printed them onto cardstock paper.  I cut out each tag and used a circle of scotch tape to attach the candy to the backside of each tag.  The tags have my studio name, what I do, and my contact information.  Continue reading “Halloween Candy = Opportunity for Free Marketing”

improving as a teacher, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A | The Role of the Parent

I apologize for being a bit MIA around the blog lately.  I have a couple of projects that I am working on right now for my local MTNA association.  One of them is designing a website.  It’s about half-way done and if you’re interested in taking a sneak peek, you can click here to see it.  :)

Anyway, our last Forum Q&A was a discussion about accepting and then teaching adult students at the students’ homes.  We also hit on a few other situations, like females teaching male adult students at the teacher’s home.  There was a good overall consensus about handling such situations.  It’s so great to get advice and support from others, so thank you all for your contributions to the discussion!  (As always, it’s never too late to comment if you haven’t already!)

Here’s the question for today:

What is the ideal role for the parents when it comes to piano lessons?  If a parent asks about what they can be doing to help and support their child, what is your answer?  Do you require or encourage parents to sit in on lessons?  Do you require parents to help young beginners practice?  Do you hold yearly or semesterly meetings with parents to discuss progress?  

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks | CC 2.0

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Rainy Rhythm Game

I’ve mentioned before that during grad school, I took an Early Childhood Music course.  One of the things we discussed was using the “sound before sight” philosophy – where the student is exposed to and experiences the concepts before being taught the name or the written notation.  I’ve been doing my best to use this philosophy of teaching music with my Piano Readiness students.

I was reminded of a raindrops & rainbows rhythm game one of my classmates created for an assignment during that course when I saw Anne Crosby’s recent post, which mentioned an activity involving finger-painting raindrops/rainbows.  It immediately occurred to me that the girls in my Piano Readiness Class would LOVE a game involving rainbows, so I put together this printable.  It’s nothing groundbreaking; I’m sure teachers before me have done similar things.  But hopefully this printable might be as useful and convenient for some of you as it was for me!

Continue reading “Just Added: Rainy Rhythm Game”

Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Advertising for Piano Lessons

Last time, we shared our favorite pieces of technology!  It’s never too late to add your thoughts, so feel free to jump in the conversation if you haven’t already!

This time, let’s talk about advertising.  Yesterday, I mentioned that I will be giving a presentation about marketing & technology for piano teachers in March.  I would love to learn more about what techniques piano teachers are currently using to advertise!

What kinds of advertising have you tried in the past?  What works, and what doesn’t?  How often do you advertise?  What kind of budget do you give yourself each year for advertising?  

Leave your comments below!

Photo Credit: Dominique Godbout | CC 2.0

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio

Hello friends,

Now that the NCKP Conference posts are all up, it’s time to return to regular posts!  Today, we have a new Teacher Feature.  Say hello to Irina!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started piano lessons at the age of 5 at the Children Music School in Kiev, Ukraine. For 9 years I had 2 individual piano lessons a week (45 min. long), and once a week 45 min.classes: music theory/solfeggio, music literature, choir, piano duet, and accompaniment (in senior classes).

At the age of 15 -19 I was studying in Kiev’s music college where I got my Bachelor degree, and the next 5 years at Kharkov Conservatory, where I got my Masters Degree in piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompaniment and Chamber Orchestra.

I started teaching piano students at Music College as a part of the pedagogy course at the age of 16. Since then, teaching is my main job, even though I enjoy accompaniment.

What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?

Seeing the results of teaching, and communicating with students and their families.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio”

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio

As announced last Friday, today marks the beginning of the brand new “Teacher Feature” series, featuring interviews with ordinary teachers like you and I.  I’m so excited to be sharing with you today an interview with piano and voice teacher Sara Kimbell from Pennsylvania.  Read on!

*  *  *  *  *

J.M.: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background! S.K.: My first piano lesson was from my mother when I was 5 years old. I moved around quite a bit as a child, so I had the opportunity to study with many talented piano teachers. In high school I started taking voice lessons, and made the decision to follow music as a college career. Fast forward eleven years (wow!), and I have a BM in vocal performance, a MM in musicology, an new adjunct position at a local university, and my very own music studio just three minutes from my house. This is my sixth year as a full-time piano/voice teacher, and I absolutely love my job!

What is the most unique thing about your studio? In a way, I think it’s the variety that you’ll find in my studio. My students vary widely in age and level, and every one of them has a unique reason for being there. Whether they are a young elementary piano student, intensely focused on learning music from “Harry Potter,” or an adult voice student with the goal of singing in their church choir, my students are wonderfully interesting and they always keep me very engaged! Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio”