Studio Business

Printable: Welcome Poster for Piano Studio

In yesterday’s post, I talked about my gradual transition from online lessons to in-person for my Michigan-based students (my Ohio-based students from before my move will remain online). As promised, in today’s post I am sharing a free printable poster you can use to welcome students and help remind them of your protocols when they first arrive.

Any time students come for their first lesson at my studio, I find it’s important to “train” them, so to speak, with my expectations such as removing shoes, washing hands, etc.. After welcoming students at the door, this involves stating something like: “Whenever you arrive in the future, I’d like you to remove your shoes here, wash your hands here, and then head to the piano!”

I thought it might be useful to post a friendly poster with these reminders, in case it helps students remember what to do the first few times they arrive until it becomes a habit. I laminated it and use poster putty to hang it where it will be easily seen.

I created a few different variations of the poster, in case you might like to use it! I’ve included versions with and without masks (for pandemic times and non-pandemic times). And there are versions included for using hand sanitizer versus washing hands in a sink.

To download this PDF, visit the Printables > Studio Business page and scroll down to “Welcome Poster for Piano Studio.” Enjoy!

  Welcome Poster for Piano Studio (158.9 KiB, 490 hits)

Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Transitioning Back to In-Person Lessons During/After the Covid-19 Pandemic

[Just for fun…here’s a selfie taken after chopping off 12 inches of pandemic-time hair and donating it to Wigs 4 Kids!]

Hello readers!

I hope you all are well. Here in Michigan, we are in the midst of BEAUTIFUL summer weather and it feels as if the worst of the pandemic is behind us (which I would certainly like to believe is true!). The current full vaccination rate in the state of Michigan is 46%, which is also the current rate in the U.S. as a whole (as of June 2021). In my local county, the full vaccination rate is even higher at 60% and the rate of reported Covid-19 cases per day is down to low single digits.

With these facts in mind, I have started transitioning a few of my students from online lessons to in-person lessons at my home studio. (You might recall — 75% of my students are in Ohio from before I moved and they will remain online.) I am taking a number of precautions, because I would much prefer to err on the side of caution and keep everyone healthy if I can help it!

In case you happen to be in the same position and might find this useful, below is the wording I used to communicate my precautions and expectations to parents via email.

Continue reading “Transitioning Back to In-Person Lessons During/After the Covid-19 Pandemic”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Whatever method is used, our experience so far makes it clear that when we use a child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown, and to gain some control over it, without trying to force him faster or further than he feels ready to go, both pupil and teacher have the most fun and make the most progress.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Tapping into the child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown makes all the difference!

Food for thought: What are examples of ways we can do this as teachers?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Children’s need to make sense of the world and to be skillful in it is as deep and strong as their need for food or rest or sleep.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Thoughts for today: Young children have a strong drive to learn and make sense of the world around them! How can we as teachers harness this natural curiosity? How can we as adults maintain this youthful approach to the world around us?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Most of us are tactful enough with other adults not to point out their errors, but not many of us are ready to extend this courtesy (or any other courtesy, for that matter) to children.”

–John Holt (in How Children Learn)

When students make errors, how do YOU respond? Do you quickly and thoughtlessly point out errors, or do you skillfully allow time and opportunity for students to notice and correct errors themselves?

I’m sure we all find ourselves occasionally jumping in too quickly with the “right answer” in our teaching. (When I find myself doing it, it tends to be when I am feeling the pressure of the clock at the end of the lesson time!) In our best teaching, though, we play the “long game” and invest in helping our students become independent. We give students the appropriate amount of challenge (not too much, not too little) according to what they are ready for. We concoct skillful teaching questions that prompt students to learn to hear musical differences on their own. We give them skills and strategies that will increasingly allow them to learn for themselves. And we allow students TIME to think! This creates valuable learning opportunities for our students. Over time, students become increasingly independent and able to teach themselves.

As an aside: It’s not that we are to see errors as inherently “bad.” They aren’t. While we might not want mistakes hanging around for a long time, we must acknowledge they are a natural part of the learning process. To the skillful teacher or learner, errors are incredibly helpful information.

One final point: The above quote from John Holt reminds us of the importance of respecting children. Perhaps this seems obvious or comes easily to you — or perhaps not. I think it’s a good reminder for us all. We ALL — not just children — learn best when our basic needs are met and when we feel respected and valued. Respecting our students means using kindness, truly listening to them, giving age-appropriate choices and responsibilities, and more. (If you’re interested, you can read about what the Montessori approach has to say about respecting children here.)

Happy Wednesday, friends! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Interviews

TEACHER FEATURE: Chad Twedt, Pianist, Teacher, & Composer

In today’s post, please enjoy an interesting and insightful interview with pianist and teacher Chad Twedt (pronounced “tweed”). I’ve known Chad for a number years, having connected online thanks to blogging. Chad’s blog, Cerebroom, is where he posts occasional in-depth articles about topics relating to music and more. Below, I ask him to share about his recently released online course called The Art of Rubato, his teaching philosophy, and his compositions, among other things.


Hi, Chad! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. Would you begin by telling us a little bit about you and how you got into teaching?

Thanks Joy, I’m honored!  

I have a master’s degree in piano performance and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I love composing, performing, teaching, thinking/researching, watching movies, writing, coding, and playing tennis.

In high school, people used to ask me the dreaded question that almost no high schooler can answer: “What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?”  I used to answer, “I don’t know… the only thing I know for sure is that I’m not going to be a teacher.”  I said this because the only people I saw teaching were public school teachers who, in my view, had a difficult job – sometimes horrifically difficult, dealing with kids in every class who didn’t really want to be there.  I also hadn’t met any male private piano teachers. Becoming a piano teacher wasn’t even on my radar.

I started teaching in 1997 reluctantly when a 10-year-old kid who sat in the front row in my undergraduate junior recital begged to take lessons from me.  I told his parents that I was a performer, not a teacher.  He apparently really wanted to study with me, because they called me back the next day and pleaded with me again to give it a try.  I agreed, and I was nervous I’d run out of things to say after the first 10 minutes.  The opposite happened – I felt like each 30-minute lesson was way too short.  Unfortunately, the kid never practiced.  His parents later told me he idolized me and just wanted to be around me, so he only lasted a month as a student, but it was enough for me to realize that teaching piano was something I was good at and deeply interested in.  I felt I owed it to myself to explore it some more.  Fast forward 20+ years, and here I am!

As a piano teacher, what are your goals for your students? 

In each lesson, I am obsessively focused on preparing students to practice effectively at home.  This obsession increased tenfold after I did a ton of research into metacognition, which is the idea of “thinking about thinking.”  It is what allows students to plan a practice/study strategy, monitor that strategy, and evaluate the success of that strategy, rather than just mindlessly seeking pleasure, producing minimal results.  Students of all ages, especially adults, naturally exhibit metacognitive knowledge and skill when they study for academic tests, but they tend to be far less mindful when practicing piano.

Continue reading “TEACHER FEATURE: Chad Twedt, Pianist, Teacher, & Composer”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

John Holt (in How Children Learn)

This quote reminds us that learning does not automatically happen just because there is a teacher. Learning happens thanks to the activity of the learner. A healthy learning environment is learning-centered, not teaching-centered.

Points to ponder: As teachers, how can we facilitate and encourage environments that are conducive for learning? How can we help our learners be engaged in active learning during piano lessons? What can we do to set them up for success? And how can we support students with learning independently on their own during home practice?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning.”

–John Holt, in How Children Learn

Who can’t help but enjoy the privilege of seeing the world through a little one’s eyes? Watch a little child, and it’s plain to see how much they love the world. John Holt says that love is what makes them such good learners. I think we have much we can learn from children.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“We don’t always have to be in such a big hurry to correct children’s mistakes. We can afford to give them time to notice and correct them themselves.”

–John Holt (in How Children Learn)


Today’s food for thought: What would happen if we weren’t so quick to make corrections of young children? What potential benefit is there to allowing others time to notice and correct their own mistakes? Does this apply only to young children, or for older students as well?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Music History

Roundup: Music History Resources

Our 12-year blogiversary celebration continues! In today’s roundup, we will take a look at the music history related resources available on my blog. I’ve also included here some printables for learning the instruments of the orchestra. As you’ll see, these are all useful resources particularly for group classes. Perhaps you’ll see something you want to incorporate into your studio classes or a camp this summer!

Don’t forgot — if you are interested in any of the paid items below from my shop, you can use the promo code 12YEARS to receive 20% off your purchase (good though March 31st, 2021). Thanks for supporting my blog! I hope you’ll discover — or re-discover — some great freebies or paid resources in the roundup below.


20150413_113402 NIKON wm

History of Audio Formats – Lesson Plan | When I was gifted a 1929 Victor Victrola gramophone some years ago, I was inspired to create a lesson plan for my students so we could learn more about the various methods used over the decades for recording audio. This free PDF contains a lesson plan, craft activity, and slides for students to learn about wax cylinders, records, 8-tracks, tape cassettes, CDs, and more! It’s perfect for group classes or music camps. I hope your students will enjoy learning about the history of audio recording methods as much as my mine did! Learn more here. >>>


  History of Audio Formats - Lesson Plan (6.7 MiB, 8,145 hits)

Continue reading “Roundup: Music History Resources”
Composition

TEACHER FEATURE: Andy Villemez on his Creative Commissions Project (CCP)

Last year when I blogged about my composition Where the Train Tracks End, I mentioned my Ohio-based colleague, Andy Villemez — the mastermind behind the Creative Commissions Project (CCP). In this blog post, I thought it would be fun to interview Andy and learn more about CCP!

In a nutshell, CCP seeks to bring working composers in direct conversation with music teachers and their students. Each student is paired with a composer who writes a piece based on the student’s current technical and musical abilities, personality, and interests. I was involved with CCP back in 2017 as a composer. I wrote two pieces — one for a student in Durham, NC and another for a student in Columbus, OH. 

Let’s have a conversation with Andy to learn more about this project!

Continue reading “TEACHER FEATURE: Andy Villemez on his Creative Commissions Project (CCP)”