Teaching Piano

Dynamics & The Beginner Piano Student

Music-forte-pianoWhen I was a 5-year-old beginner piano student, I remember being re-assigned one-/two-line method book pieces when the only thing lacking was dynamic contrast.  And I remember being frustrated with this.  My frustration was partly due to the fact that I was bored with the music I was playing; I wanted to be reading staff notation instead of pre-staff notation, as my mother taught me to do before she found me a piano teacher.  Regardless, having to re-practice pieces that were already mastered, due to forgetting to drop from forte-piano to piano in one place was a hard thing for me to swallow.

Looking back, I do realize the importance of dynamics.  As a teacher, I am a stickler about them even with the most beginner of students.  However, as tempting as it is, I do not generally reassign a beginning-level piece from a method book if the ONLY thing lacking is the dynamics.  I have decided that holding a student back in their progress is not worth it, because learning to observe dynamic markings is something that can be mastered over time through the next few pieces in their method books.   Continue reading “Dynamics & The Beginner Piano Student”

seasonal / holiday

Forum Q&A: Christmas Gifts for Piano Students

I hope all you USA-ers enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  I know I did.  :)

It has been awhile since we did a Forum Q&A post (how did that happen?!).  Last time, we discussed how to help students who are frustrated by the mistakes they make, large or small.  You can read all the responses by clicking here.

Today, I’d like to hear about Christmas gifts for piano students!

Do you give your students a gift at Christmas?  If so, what are you giving this year?  What have you given in previous years?

Please share in the comment section below this post!

Studio Business

Referral Thank You Gift

I recently had a current student refer a new student to me for piano lessons.  The best kind of marketing is word-of-mouth, so I am always happy when parents/students are willing to tell others about my services!  So I decided to give a little gift as a token of my appreciation:

I created this T-shirt at printfection.com, and accompanied it with a thank you card.  :)

Also: I wanted to use this post to announce the winner of the candle giveaway:  It’s commenter #12, Pauline!  Congrats!  Please check your inbox for an email from me.

The winners of the other giveaways will be announced over the next few days.

Forum Q&A's, Giveaways, improving as a teacher, Professional Development

Forum Q&A: Assignment Notebook/Pages for Students

Today’s post brings a new Forum Q&A topic, and another GIVEAWAY!

Our last Forum Q&A discussion was about perfectionism.  It’s never too late to add your thoughts to the comments, so feel free to hop over there and join in the conversation!  I plan to follow up with an article on perfectionism to discuss this topic further at some point, but haven’t gotten to it yet!  So many ideas, so little time…  :)

Today’s new Q&A topic is about assignment notebooks.  I’m curious –

What is your method of writing down assignments for students?  Do you use a notebook (if so, any particular size/type?) or do you have a custom-made sheet you designed on the computer?  What kinds of things are usually included on a typical assignment? 

Today’s giveaway is a pair of decorative balls, decoupaged by hand with vintage sheet music: Continue reading “Forum Q&A: Assignment Notebook/Pages for Students”

Composition, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Music Staff Paper for Stickers of all Sizes

Guess what!  Tomorrow is Color In My Piano’s THREE YEAR anniversary!  Woohoo!  I’ve got a few fun posts and giveaways planned for later this week in honor of our anniversary.  But today, I thought I’d share this new printable:

Continue reading “Just Added: Music Staff Paper for Stickers of all Sizes”

Group Classes, Music Theory, Worksheets

Just Added: “Gallery of Music” Symbol Drawing Worksheets

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I have a free printable to share today…

This is a set of simple worksheets for having students learn to draw various music symbols.  The worksheets can be used singly or in groups, depending on what concepts your students are currently learning.  I would encourage students to use colorful crayons to draw the symbols.

Here are the symbols covered on each page:

  1. Quarter, half, dotted-quarter, and whole notes.
  2. Quarter, half, dotted-quarter, and whole rests.
  3. Single eighth note, beamed eighth notes, eighth rest, and dotted quarter note.
  4. Treble clef, bass clef, staff, and grand staff.
  5. Barline, double barline, repeat sign, and time signature.
  6. Forte, piano, mezzo forte, and mezzo piano.
  7. Sharp, flat, natural, quarter note with flat.
  8. Slur, tie, staccato, accent.

If you have suggestions for more symbols to include in additional worksheets, let me know!

To download this set of worksheets, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the G’s for “Gallery of Music – Symbol Drawing Worksheets.”

P.S.: I received an email yesterday from the MTNA Collegiate Chapter at Butler University, asking if I’d send a link to the survey they created about online marketing for piano teachers.  They are looking for responses to help them with a session they will be presenting at the MTNA National Conference in NYC next month.  Please take a minute of your time to help them out!   http://tinyurl.com/butlersurvey2012

P.S.S.: Today is the last day to sign up to attend the MTNA National Conference at the early registration discount!  Visit mtna.org to learn more.  Hope to see you in NYC!

improving as a teacher, Performances, Practice, Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency

Have you ever have a student play a piece with frequent hesitations throughout, even though you know they can play much better than that?  This phenomenon can occur with all ages/levels of students.  Why does this happen?  What is going on when this happens?  This article will examine possible causes of and solutions for a lack of fluency.

A lack of fluency could be caused by a number of things:

  1. A lack of the proper technique required for the executing the piece;
  2. A lack of familiarity of the notes of the piece;
  3. A tempo that is too fast for the student’s ability at that moment; or,
  4. A lack of mentally “chunking” the information on the page properly.  The analogy I use to refer to Number 4 is that the students feels like they are wearing horse blinders, or are mentally experiencing tunnel vision.

Continue reading “Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency”

Announcements, improving as a teacher, Music Camps, Studio Business

My Summer Camp Plans for 2012!

I recently started to do some in-depth planning for the summer camps I plan to offer this summer!  My studio policies provide students with two options for the summer months (June-August):

  1. Students ages 6-12 may participate in a camp each month plus take 5 lessons scheduled approximately every other week around family vacations, or…
  2. Students may continue weekly lessons (10 total) as normal.  Students who choose to continue lessons as normal are welcome to sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 summer camps on top of their lessons if desired, at a special rate.

Because I have such a range of ages/levels in my studio, I decided to make my camps very flexible so that students of a wide range of musical backgrounds (even those with no music background) can attend camp.  When my studio is larger, I will probably design camps for certain ages/levels.  For this year, I think it’s best to be flexible.  I’m encouraging my students to invite their friends to attend camp and I’ll put posters around town too.  I’m hoping for a turnout of about 4-8 students attending each camp.

Below are the descriptions I came up with for each camp.  What do you think — do they sound like fun?!  :)   Continue reading “My Summer Camp Plans for 2012!”

Forum Q&A's

Forum Q&A | Perfectionist Piano Students

Last week, our Forum Q&A discussion was about saying goodbye to piano students before moving away.  Today, I’d love to hear your thoughts about students who are perfectionists.  We’ve all had them!  Sometimes they are so hard on themselves when it comes to making mistakes that they stop having fun.  They may even stop making progress in their piano study as a result of their intense fear of making mistakes.

On the other hand, as a professor at my alma mater once said, music is one of the few professions where perfection is not only expected, but it is considered the norm.  We have to admit, our goal is perfection in a way.

And so, I think a balance is necessary.

What are your thoughts?  What can we do about students who become too hard on themselves?  How do you help the perfectionist student become “okay” with making mistakes?  How do we help students achieve a balance when it comes to reaching perfection?  

Announcements, improving as a teacher

Thoughts for the New Year

The new year always brings about a time of reflection for me.  I find myself thinking back over the past year and looking forward to the future, wondering what the new year might bring.

This year was a time of great change for my husband and me.  In May, I graduated with my Master of Music degree.  We also moved to a new state.  It has been an adjustment to be out-of-school.  I still keep myself just as busy as I was during grad school, but it’s a different kind of busy.  Instead of having a schedule where nearly every half-hour of my day was portioned out to a class, rehearsal, or other appointment, my schedule is suddently much more flexible.  Now I have the flexibility to choose when I complete the items on my “to-do” list.  And I have to time to work on various projects that I never would have had time to do during grad school. Continue reading “Thoughts for the New Year”

seasonal / holiday

Christmas Gift for Piano Students

Here’s what I gave my students for Christmas this year:

A Symphony chocolate bar, and a personalized glass ornament.

 

I found the glass ornaments at a craft store (Hobby Lobby).  On each ornament, I wrote the student’s name and “2011” on the ornament using a paint pen.  I put colorful confetti and pieces of old sheet music inside each ornament.  I thought they turned out cute!

For my adult students, I bought music dictionaries.  The A to Z of Foreign Musical Terms is my favorite music dictionary.  I don’t mind spending a little extra on the adult students to get something they would really use and appreciate.  :)