Rhythm, Technology

Making Music Worksheets Using Rhythm Fonts

A frequent question I receive from blog readers is about what method/software do I use to make music worksheets.  Since discovering music fonts (and publishing my blog post on music fonts last Spring), I have been using music fonts more and more for my printables and using Finale less and less.  Finale is great and totally necessary for printing compositions and arrangements, but it’s not quite as convenient for making music worksheets.

To help answer some of those questions about how to get started using music fonts for creating music worksheets, I decided to create a quick video showing the process for creating a rhythm worksheet using my two favorite music fonts: MusiSync and Rhythms.  These two fonts are so simple to use, you might not even need a character map (as described in the full post about music fonts).  Before getting started, you will need to download and then install both of these fonts onto your computer.  You will also need the program Microsoft Publisher (part of the Microsoft Office suite), or a similar program.

It’s my first try doing a video tutorial.  Let me know what you think.  🙂

Update: Here is a follow-up video that talks about using two other fonts, that will allow you to create melodic examples in your worksheets.  And here is one more video tutorial, showing another option for making worksheets: using png image files of various music symbols.


Color Printer Suggestions

wf645_fca-cos-cn_690x460I received an email from a reader over the weekend, asking if I had any suggestions for a color printer.  I bought a new printer about a year ago, so I told her all about that.

I bought an Epson WorkForce 645 about a year ago.  I chose the Epson brand based on the reviews I read on Amazon and elsewhere.  I looked at the technical specs of Epson’s whole line of printers, and ended up choosing the Workforce 645 because it was cheapest printer in their line-up that was designed to be able to print on cardstock (which I like to use when printing flashcards, games, etc.) and can automatically print double-sided (I get confused when I try to do it manually!)  It also has a built-in scanner, which I have found to be very convenient.

I’ve been pretty happy with my printer overall — I’d give it a 4 stars out of 5.  Sometimes, the printer claims there is a paper jam for no reason when it is trying to print double-sided.  And sometimes, when printing a full page of color, there are some patchy, un-even areas.  But overall, it has performed pretty well for me.  The ink is a little pricey IMO, but it is probably no worse than any other brand’s ink.

Do you have a color printer to recommend (or not recommend)?  Please share about it in the comments!

Conferences, Technique, Technology

OhioMTA 2012 Conference (2): Music Performance and Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley

The next session was called: Understanding the Physiology of Music Performance Through Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley.

Kathleen Riley is a pioneer in using technology she refers to as “biofeedback” to monitor movement and muscles in order to help musicians eliminate pain, tension, or discomfort in their shoulders, arms, backs, etc.  She began her session with a quote:

“Technique is the knowledge o the most economical way to produce adequately what the mind conceives artistically.”  – E. Robert Schmitz, from the 1935 book The Capture of Inspiration.

Dr. Riley discussed relaxation and the music — and the fact that although no muscle is ever completely relaxed, there is a resting point.  She discussed that we need to examine how much tension we really need when we play.  How can we release unneeded tension and follow-through on our movements?   Continue reading “OhioMTA 2012 Conference (2): Music Performance and Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley”

Giveaways, Reviews, Rhythm, Technology

Review & Giveaway: Rhythm Cat app

Rhythm Cat — Cost: Free version (15 levels) is FREE;  Rhythm Cat Pro is $2.99.  The pro version is available currently for iPhone/iPod Touch — and the pro version for iPad is coming out soon!

This app is a fun and effective way to improve rhythm skills.  Let me tell you why!

On each level, the player is presented with a rhythm example.

After hitting the Play button, a soundtrack begins. After 1-2-3-4 is shown, the player must tap the rhythm of the example shown using the large green button.  Here is what the very first rhythm example looks like:   Continue reading “Review & Giveaway: Rhythm Cat app”

Studio Business, Technology

Business Topics for Piano Teachers

On Friday, I gave a presentation for the local MTNA chapter back in my hometown, the Piano Teachers’ Forum of Grand Rapids.  This association was the first one I joined as an undergraduate music major and piano teacher.  I learned so much from the presentations I attended during those years!  It was so fun to go back this weekend and see some of my colleagues.

The name of my presentation was “Business Sense for the Piano Teacher of the 21st Century.”  Many of the topics I talked about are topics I’ve blogged about too.  Here are a few related blog posts for your enjoyment:

Reviews, Technology

iTalk app Review

iTalk app | Cost: Free (with ads) or Premium version: $1.99 (no ads), for iPhone and iPad.

This app is the perfect solution when recording audio of your or your students’ playing.  In many cases, I record video of my students playing during piano lessons; but sometimes I want only audio, so that I can get better quality or so I can more easily email it.

The iPhone/iPad comes pre-installed with a Voice Memos app, so you might be wondering about the advantages of iTalk.  There are two:

  1. Higher audio quality (AIFF files), and
  2. Convenience (transferring/syncing files).

The quality of the sound recording is far better using iTalk versus the Voice Memos app.  When you open the iTalk app, it allows you to name the recording and then select between Good, Better, or Best recording quality (11.025, 22.05, or 44.10 kHz sample rates).  On the iPhone 4 (and probably 5), there is an auto-noise cancellation feature (so you won’t get as much room noise).  Pushing the big red button starts the recording.  After recording, you can browse your list of recordings, play them back, or email a file.  Continue reading “iTalk app Review”

Music Theory, Reviews, Technology

Review: NoteWorks iPad app & Giveaway

Noteworks – (Links: Free iPhone versionfull iPhone version for $4.99, Free iPad versionfull iPad version for $4.99)  

This app is designed for students to practice identifying notes on the staff and finding the corresponding piano keys.  Noteworks features an adorable little “Munchy” who eats the notes when the student identifies the notes correctly!

Continue reading “Review: NoteWorks iPad app & Giveaway”

Giveaways, Reviews, Rhythm, Technology

Review & Giveaway: SpeakBeat app

SpeakBeat – Cost: $1.99.  View it in the iTunes store here.

SpeakBeat is a metronome app, but with a twist: it “speaks” the beats!  Just choose the time signature and choose whether you’d like sub beats counted (the “and’s,” “one-and-a’s,” and the “one-e-and-a’s”) or not.   The tempo can be adjusted from 20-240 bpm.  There are also 8 different voices to choose from in the settings: a variety of male and female voices, as well as a few fun ones like Darth Vader and Kermit the Frog!  The app’s interface is easy to navigate and quite nice-looking.

We all know the value of having students count aloud as they play, right?  Counting aloud does more than self-correct the student’s rhythm — it also teaches students to be play in awareness of the meter.  (See more about my thoughts regarding teaching rhythm here.)   Continue reading “Review & Giveaway: SpeakBeat app”


Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching

I’ve been enjoying the wonders of my iPod Touch 4g for nearly two years now.  However, recently, my hubby and I upgraded our cell phones to the glorious iPhone 4.  There isn’t really much difference between the two, other than that now I don’t have to carry both a phone and the iPod around with me everywhere (my iPod had my calendar with teaching schedule, so I tried to keep it with me always), and now I can access the internet anywhere I go.

I know many piano teachers are using iPads in their teaching.  The iPhone is no different from the iPad, other than the larger screen and the fact that there are certain apps designed only to work on the iPad (because they require a larger screen).  My hubby has an iPad 1, which he allows me to use occasionally.  Someday, I’ll get my own iPad, but there are too many more urgent things on my studio wishlist right now!  🙂

Here are the most frequent ways I use my iPod/iPhone in my teaching:  Continue reading “Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching”

Resources, Technology

Music Fonts: The Ultimate Guide

I’ve been wanting to write a post about using music fonts for a long time.  Finally, here it is!  If you have been wondering how you can create your own music worksheets/resources, this guide will help you get started.

For my worksheets/materials, I use graphics exported from Finale about 30% of the time, and music fonts the other 70% of the time.  The great thing about using music fonts is that anyone can use them, without having to buy an expensive program like Finale.  However, using music fonts is a little more complicated than you might think.  This post will attempt to demystify the process and point you to some links and resources. Continue reading “Music Fonts: The Ultimate Guide”


Google+ Update

Have any of you been hanging out on Google+ (pronounced “Google plus”) much lately?  (If you aren’t familiar with what Google+ is, check out this post on social networking.)  Google+ hasn’t risen in popularity as quickly as I had hoped.  The features, layout, and user-friendliness of Google+ is so much better than Facebook (IMO).  And yet, everyone seems to still be hanging out on Facebook.

Fortunately, Google+ just announced this week that anyone can create a Google+ page for their business/organization.  Maybe this will help make Google+ a thriving place to be!  I’ve created a page for Color In My Piano which I’d love to have you all join (click here).  Wendy Stevens has also created a page for her ComposeCreate blog, which you can view by clicking here.  If you haven’t added me to your circles yet, I’d love to connect with you.  My profile page is here.

Google+ pages offer a variety of features, including “Hangouts” that allow individuals to group chat (like Skype).  Someday, I’d love to organize LIVE round-table discussions about various piano teaching topics!  Wouldn’t that be fun?!

So, head on over to Google+.  We need more action over there!

Studio Business, Technology

Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More

I’ve been intending to write this post in the “Studio Marketing” series (perhaps the last one) for awhile now, but I was stalling in hopes of being able to include more information about the new Google+ social networking site……I’ll get to that in a moment.  Read on. 🙂

What can Social Networking do for YOU? 

I’ve discussed before about how important it is today to have a website for your business.  It’s important to have an online presence, period.  Utilizing social networking helps built rapport between you and your current & potential customers.  Marketing is promoting your business.  It’s about reaching people where they are.  And it’s about creating an image for your business that people want to identify themselves with.

The good news is that social networking is free.  Yes, you will have to invest a little time to set things up and update things now and then, but I think you will find it a very rewarding activity if you aren’t doing it already!  Continue reading “Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More”