Technique

My Explorations of Yoga as a Pianist & Teacher

Each year during the cold and snowy winters of the Midwest U.S., I miss being active outdoors. The last couple of years, to scratch that itch, I’ve started getting into yoga.

I chose yoga because it has so many health benefits — both physically and mentally — some of which are particularly useful to musicians. I have already noticed a degree of improvement in mindfulness and bodily awareness — both crucial skills for any musician.

In this post, I’d like to share a bit about my explorations of yoga over the past couple of years and about a few resources that have helped me learn.

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Photo: Me, inspired to invent a new yoga pose during a trip earlier this year to the Joshua Tree National Park in California. 

Let’s start with the practical: How do I fit yoga into my routine?

yoga studio appI like doing yoga in the evening, as a way to wind down before going to bed. Sometimes, I’ll also do a few stretches in the morning or at various points in the day when I feel I need it.

I’ve been using a wonderful app that I highly recommend: Yoga Studio (currently $3.99, and worth every penny!).

The app contains quite a variety of workouts to choose from: beginner, intermediate, advanced; 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes.

ipadMini_white_3 Continue reading “My Explorations of Yoga as a Pianist & Teacher”

Announcements, Studio Business

Moving Adventures

My husband and I have been happily renting this house for the past three years:

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This Spring, we decided we were interested in buying our own house.  We were pre-approved for a mortgage and started shopping.

Finding a house with a good space for my studio was a priority.  We found a great house in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is 20 minutes north of where we currently live.  It is not as charming on the outside as the rental house, but we hope to be able to increase the curb appeal.

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Continue reading “Moving Adventures”

Forum Q&A's, Studio Business

Forum Q&A: Health Insurance for Self-Employed Music Teachers

Our last Forum Q&A post was sharing about the first piano you learned on as a child.  It was fun hearing your piano stories!

pitr_First_aid_iconIt’s time for a new Forum Q&A topic.  This one is an important topic for any self-employed music teacher to consider: Health insurance!

Do you pay for your own health insurance out-of-pocket, or does your spouse’s job provide insurance for you?  If you are paying for health insurance out-of-pocket, did you find insurance through the services partnered with MTNA, or through another source?  Does your insurance only cover major medical, or does it cover annual check-ups, etc.?  Do you feel that your health insurance adequately covers what your needs?  Is the premium reasonable, and is the co-pay/co-insurance reasonable?  

I’ll admit that this topic is timely for me, because I am currently shopping for health insurance.  As I’ve been researching health insurance, I found it very interesting to learn how difficult it can be for self-employed individuals (of any career) in the United States to find both adequate and affordable coverage, especially for those who have “pre-existing conditions.”

This is a topic definitely worth discussing.  I hope you’ll all take a moment to leave a comment below to share your experience!

Studio Business

My New Business Cards

I was running low on business cards, so I ordered some new ones a couple weeks ago.  I decided to try my hand at a little bit of graphic design and make the cards myself in Photoshop Elements.  I’ve ordered from Moo.com in the past and have been very pleased with the quality, so I decided to order from them again.  They have a handy photoshop template that you can download to help with the process of designing your own business cards.  They also have lots of pre-designed templates to choose from.

Here is the result of my efforts:

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The colorful design is to give out as an accompanist or when attending conferences with other teachers.  The second design is for my piano studio, to give to students/parents.

The QR codes on the back of the cards lead to my websites.  I generated them for free via this website.

If you’d like to order cards from Moo.com, you can use this link which will give me referral credit and give you 10% off your first order.  The cards from Moo aren’t cheap, but the quality definitely shows: the paper is nice and thick, and you’ll get two-sided cards.  I’m a happy customer!  :)

Studio Business

Sample Studio Newsletter

A reader asked if I could share a sample of a studio newsletter, so here’s a few screenshots!  Click the thumbnails below to view each page larger:

 

For most newsletters, I also include a list of music events going on in the community.  I think it’s great for students and their families to hear and be inspired by good performances!  Here’s a post with other ideas for what to include in studio newsletters.

I created this newsletter using a template in Microsoft Word.

 

Forum Q&A's, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Saying Goodbye to Piano Students Before Moving Away

At our last Forum Q&A discussion, we talked about new year’s resolutions for piano teachers!  Click here to view the responses.

Over the weekend, I received an email from a reader who is preparing to move and must say “goodbye” to all her students.  I’d love to start a discusion about piano teachers saying goodbye and moving, so here goes:

Have you ever had to move and “give away” all your students?  How did you break the news?  Was there anything you were able to do for your students to make their transition to a new piano teacher easier?  What other advice can you offer to a piano teacher who is preparing to move? 

I’ll post my answer in the comments below, including the “goodbye letter” I wrote for my students last Spring when I moved after graduation.  Please add your own thoughts to the comments below!

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, 11,740 hits)

Forum Q&A's, Professional Development, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A | Safety Practices for Traveling Teachers

Wow, last week’s Forum Q&A received some great responses about advertising!  Thank you, and be sure to read what everyone had to say by clicking here!  As always, it’s never to late to add  your thoughts to the discussion.

A few days ago, I received an email from a Color In My Piano reader with this question:

When traveling to a new students’ homes, how can you screen students before agreeing to teach them?  What kind of safety precautions can be taken before going to a stranger’s house (especially an adult student)?  If they sound questionable on the phone, is there a way to politely decline giving them lessons?

Please leave your advice in the comments below!

Photo Credit: CarlosLie | CC 2.0
Interviews, Rhythm

Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns

It’s halfway through the month already, which means it’s time for a…

Teacher Feature!  :)  Meet Mariel from Mississippi!

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

I started taking piano lessons when I was 4 years old and loved piano, but when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I quit lessons for various reasons.  I continued to play through middle school and high school, and started working on more advanced repertoire on my own.  Since I didn’t have a teacher, however, my technique was very limited.  I was accepted into the Lawrence Conservatory of Music for college, and with the help of my very understanding studio professor, learned proper technique skills I needed to really develop as a pianist.  During my freshman year of college, I taught a few students and HATED it. I never wanted to teach again (I didn’t have the patience for it), but after taking the piano pedagogy courses in college and learning how to formulate lesson plans and a bit more about childhood education, I absolutely fell in love with teaching and knew I wanted to start a private studio!!  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns”

Composition, Technology

Hear my New Piano!

I promised over a month ago that I would post a video so you could hear my new piano!  I wanted to wait until after I got it tuned, of course, and recently I finally got around to recording something.

In this YouTube video, I’m playing a short piece I composed during undergrad called “Contemplation.”

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This is a piece I composed in 2007 during my senior year at Hope College. It was written for an assignment for a Form & Analysis theory course for which we were supposed to compose a piece using the Schenkarian techniques we were studying in class. The structure of this piece is based on a descending line using scale degrees 3-2-1. This descending line is also used on a more micro level as a motive throughout the piece.

In the next video, I am playing a piece that my six-year-old student back in Central Michigan composed before I moved away.  He composed a melody called “Goodbye,” and wanted me to compose the left hand part for it.  I was so touched by his request!   Continue reading “Hear my New Piano!”

improving as a teacher, Professional Development

Studio Marketing: The Studio Newsletter

You may not immediately see a connection between your studio’s monthly newsletter and marketing…but there is one, I assure you!  Marketing means promoting your studio, which includes keeping current customers of your service satisfied.  One of the keys to keeping customers satisfied is over-delivering: giving more than expected.  Newsletters are one great way to over-deliver.  And so, in continuation of our series on studio marketing, we are talking today about studio newsletters.  :)   Continue reading “Studio Marketing: The Studio Newsletter”