Composition

Roundup: Composition/Improvisation Resources for Piano Teachers

Our 12-year Blogiversary Celebration continues! In today’s post, I’d like to round up a few of my favorite resources (both free and paid) on my blog relating to composition and improvisation.

Composition and improvisation are skills I love integrating into my teaching. When students show an interest in creating their own pieces, I always foster this and coach them through the process of formulating and notating their compositions. To help expose all of my students to composition, I offer a composition-themed summer camp at least every-other-year. I use improvisation, in simple but natural ways, in my teaching too — although I’d like to get better at doing more!

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In this blog post, there are three main sections: (1) First, I will first round up my free printables related to composition and improvisation. (2) Then, I’ll list some blog post links to some articles that discuss how to integrate improvisation and composition into your teaching. (3) Finally, I will tell you about two paid resources from my shop you might find useful for teaching composition and improvisation to your piano students.

I hope you’ll discover — or rediscover — some fun resources you can use in your teaching!

Continue reading “Roundup: Composition/Improvisation Resources for Piano Teachers”
Teaching Piano

My 6 Favorite Office Supply Items as a Piano Teacher

Office supplies are always a teacher’s joy! I thought it would be fun to put together a post compiling my go-to pens, pencils, and other office items. Below, you’ll find a handy list with photos and links of the supplies I like to have near my fingertips while teaching piano lessons. (I’m currently still teaching my lessons online for now due to Covid-19 pandemic, but I keep these items on hand regardless and I bet you might like them, too!)

Please enjoy, and share your own favorite office supplies in the comments at the end of this post!

Continue reading “My 6 Favorite Office Supply Items as a Piano Teacher”
Performances, Technology, Videos

Tutorial: Combining Videos to Create an “Piano Duet” Video

Back in May, I shared about how I organized a virtual recital for my students. In that post, I briefly mentioned how I combined two videos to create “duet” videos for a couple of my students. Today, I’d like to share how I accomplished this “duet” video magic, so you can try it for yourself if you’d like!

First of all, here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In this video, you’ll see a beginner student playing the rote piece “I Love Coffee” (from the Shaaks and of Piano Safari method fame), accompanied by me playing the teacher duet.

Below, I will share the steps for how to create and combine a student video and a teacher video to create a “piano duet” video. This technique is similar to that used by many YouTube musicians — you’ve probably seen the type. Even if you already know how to do this, I hope perhaps you’ll gain at least a helpful tip or two from this post!

Step 1: Acquire Student Video

The basic process is that one person records their video first, so that the other person can use it as a guide (using earbuds) while recording the second video. The first person’s video determines the tempo throughout the piece, which the second person must follow and match.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Combining Videos to Create an “Piano Duet” Video”
Announcements

In The Shop: “Notes To Self” Wall Art

It’s here! I’ve been hinting about this on instagram all week. I’m so excited to today share with you a project I’ve been working for the past few months.

Inspired by a project I saw at my town’s local university campus, I decided to create something similar for my piano students. I call it the “Notes To Self” wall art.

Those who approach the “Notes To Self” wall art are encouraged by the sign to “Take one to-go, for you or somebody else!”

The quotes and sayings were chosen with positivity and encouragement in mind. They’re fun to admire, and it’s fun to pick out one to take with you. My students are enjoying this!

I drew all of the quotes and sayings myself by hand — but the designs have been digitized so they can be printed out directly onto the sticky notes using the template shown below. Easy! (Learn more about the template here.)

These “Notes To Self” sticky notes are a great way to promote positivity and camaraderie among your students. Continue reading “In The Shop: “Notes To Self” Wall Art”

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 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, 15,415 hits)