Professional Development, Technology

Podcasts and Audiobooks for Piano Teachers

Earlier this week, I mentioned my guest appearance on Tim Topham’s podcast for piano teachers. Today, I wanted to tell you about a few other great podcasts and also talk about my latest indulgence: audiobooks!

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First, what is a podcast?

A podcast is a audio channel of sorts, often created by bloggers, with regular new episode updates. There are podcasts available on every topic imaginable, including piano teaching! Continue reading “Podcasts and Audiobooks for Piano Teachers”

Conferences

MTNA 2012 Conference | Session on Ethics for Music Teachers

Wednesday morning of the conference, I attended a session called “it’s More Than Just Being Nice” by Kathy Strickland, the Washington State Ethics Chair with help from Amy Grinsteiner.

Kathy covered a variety of topics about our responsibility as teachers.  Here’s some of her points:

  • Treat students with respect.  Don’t accept just the talented students.
  • Teach concert etiquette to parents and students.
  • Do not copy music!  It’s legal in the case of a one-time educational session (after which the copies should be destroyed).  But in most other cases, it is illegal.  And when teachers pass on illegal copies to students, we make them complacent in the crime.  Continue reading “MTNA 2012 Conference | Session on Ethics for Music Teachers”
Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Camps

How I Lesson Plan for Group Classes

I’ve had a few requests lately from readers regarding more info about what kind of activities I do with my Homeschool Music Classes and Piano Readiness classes, so I thought it might first be a good idea to first give you a peek into how I lesson plan for group classes.  Although I don’t lesson plan for teaching private lessons, I do always make a plan for group classes.

At each class, we begin and end with a “Hello Song” and “Goodbye Song.”  Students like having this routine, and they are very good at reminding me about the songs if I forget about them!  I have the students tap the beat on their knees (as we sit cross-legged on our carpet squares) while we sing.  That way, I can tell if they are engaged even if they aren’t singing all the lyrics for one reason or another.

When I lesson plan the evening before the next day’s class, I try to include the following things:  Continue reading “How I Lesson Plan for Group Classes”

Early Childhood Music, repertoire / methods, Reviews

First Thoughts Regarding Faber’s “My First Piano Adventure”

As big of a fan as I am of Nancy & Randall Faber’s materials for piano students, somehow I’ve never had a chance to try out their “My First Piano Adventure” books — until now.  After trying out this book with a new 5-year-old student last week, I am wondering why in the world didn’t I check this out sooner?!

My First Piano Adventure is designed for young beginners, ages 5 and 6.  I suspect that 4-year-olds would also thrive using this book, and maybe even precocious 3-year-olds — but don’t quote me on that until I’ve had more time to test it out.

The Lesson Book comes with a CD full of fun songs and activities that teach the student about basic technique, how to make different sounds on the piano, and much more.  The CD alone is worth the price of the Lesson Book!!   Parents can play the CD at home or in the car so the student is hearing them all week long.  I bought my own copy to play during lessons — but I also plan to use some of the songs on the CD with my Piano Readiness Classes and Homeschool Music class because they are that good.  🙂  Many of the songs involve some pretty creative activities for learning basic piano technique — which is great, because I am always on the lookout for finding effective ways to teach young beginners proper technique. Continue reading “First Thoughts Regarding Faber’s “My First Piano Adventure””

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

Forum Q&A | New Year’s Resolutions for Piano Teachers

I’ve already blogged a bit about my New Year’s Resolution.  Now it’s your turn!

Our previous Q&A Forum brought about a great discussion about whether or not to lesson plan for piano lessons (and if so, how to feasibly do so even if you have a large studio).  Today, let’s start a discussion about what change you’d like to make in your teaching this year!  I think it’s important as teachers to continually be making little changes and looking for ways to improve our teaching.  It not only makes us better teachers, but it also helps keep things fresh for our students as well as ourselves.  🙂

So, tell us:

  • As a piano teacher, what would you like to START doing this year?
  • What would you like to STOP doing this year?
  • What would you like to KEEP doing this year?

Comment away!

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio

Hello friends,

Now that the NCKP Conference posts are all up, it’s time to return to regular posts!  Today, we have a new Teacher Feature.  Say hello to Irina!

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

I started piano lessons at the age of 5 at the Children Music School in Kiev, Ukraine. For 9 years I had 2 individual piano lessons a week (45 min. long), and once a week 45 min.classes: music theory/solfeggio, music literature, choir, piano duet, and accompaniment (in senior classes).

At the age of 15 -19 I was studying in Kiev’s music college where I got my Bachelor degree, and the next 5 years at Kharkov Conservatory, where I got my Masters Degree in piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompaniment and Chamber Orchestra.

I started teaching piano students at Music College as a part of the pedagogy course at the age of 16. Since then, teaching is my main job, even though I enjoy accompaniment.

What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?

Seeing the results of teaching, and communicating with students and their families.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio”

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio

As announced last Friday, today marks the beginning of the brand new “Teacher Feature” series, featuring interviews with ordinary teachers like you and I.  I’m so excited to be sharing with you today an interview with piano and voice teacher Sara Kimbell from Pennsylvania.  Read on!

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J.M.: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background! S.K.: My first piano lesson was from my mother when I was 5 years old. I moved around quite a bit as a child, so I had the opportunity to study with many talented piano teachers. In high school I started taking voice lessons, and made the decision to follow music as a college career. Fast forward eleven years (wow!), and I have a BM in vocal performance, a MM in musicology, an new adjunct position at a local university, and my very own music studio just three minutes from my house. This is my sixth year as a full-time piano/voice teacher, and I absolutely love my job! I love that I get to influence young ones in their path, for them to read and learn more about what it takes for various subjects involved in making music and creating a studio to play in.

What is the most unique thing about your studio? In a way, I think it’s the variety that you’ll find in my studio. My students vary widely in age and level, and every one of them has a unique reason for being there. Whether they are a young elementary piano student, intensely focused on learning music from “Harry Potter,” or an adult voice student with the goal of singing in their church choir, my students are wonderfully interesting and they always keep me very engaged! Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio”

Forum Q&A's, Technology

Forum Q&A | Piano Lessons via Skype

Last week’s Forum Q&A post was about saying “no” to potential students, and we received some great responses!  Click here to check them out.  Here’s today’s discussion topic:

Advances in technology over the past few years have changed the way we live in many ways.  Online video conferencing services, for example, allow us to chat face-to-face with friends and family across the globe….and conduct piano lessons?!  With internet services becoming faster and audio compression quality also improving, offering lessons via video conferencing services such as Skype is becoming a more and more viable option.  It certainly is something for piano teachers to consider.

So, I’ve been doing some research to see what I could unearth about the set-up, feasibility, and success of Skype lessons.  Here’s what I found:

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you think Skype is a viable option as a way for independent music teachers to offer lessons?  What are the biggest adjustments or changes that the teacher and student would have to make in order for Skype lessons to be successful?  What pros and cons can you identify?  Would you ever offer lessons via Skype? 

Leave your comments below.

Update from Joy: I’ve decided to take the plunge and start offering live online piano lessons!  Check out the link to read more about me as a teacher and about how online piano lessons work.

improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Studio Business

Determining Tuition Rates for Piano Teaching

Every once in a while, I receive emails from readers wondering if their tuition rates are appropriate.  Setting rates is a difficult topic to talk about, because for one thing, rate depend largely on the area where you live.  For that reason, I can’t advise exact numbers — but with this article I hope to offer some guidelines and suggestions regarding this topic nevertheless.

The Problem

I’m sure we’ve all experienced parents/students who are shopping for piano lessons by price.  Let’s face it: many parents today (especially in America) shop for piano teachers based on price, even though they really should be “shopping” based on the teacher’s experience, education, professionalism, dedication, etc..  Parents shop by price because in their logic, little 6-year-old Suzie doesn’t need an expensive teacher unless they discover that she has a talent for piano and long-term interest.  And they don’t know any better.  Continue reading “Determining Tuition Rates for Piano Teaching”

Forum Q&A's, Professional Development

Forum Q&A | Being A Member of MTNA or Other Professional Organizations

Our last Forum Q&A from two weeks ago (due to the conference) was all about dealing with rhythmic “simplification” of familiar tunes with students.  If you haven’t read all the great responses yet, be sure to do so by clicking here!  As always, it’s never to late to contribute your own thoughts if you haven’t already.

This week, I’d like to start a discussion about professional organizations (such as MTNA for the U.S. — international teachers, please tell us about what your country offers!).

Are you a member of a professional organization?  If so, for how long have you been a member?  Is it worth it?  What is your favorite thing about being a member of MTNA or any other professional music teachers association?  What other benefits can you list?  Why do you consider it important to be a member?

If you are not currently a member of a professional organization, would you like to be in the future?  What questions do you have about becoming a member?

Comment away!

improving as a teacher, Studio Business

Thoughts on the Teaching Philosophy

Many college education (both music and otherwise) classes require students to write teaching philosophies.  How many of you keep a teaching philosophy posted on your studio website or printed in studio materials?  Have you updated it at all since your college days?  And those of you who didn’t write one for college – have you considered writing one yourself?

Let me give you some reasons why you if you don’t have a written teaching philosophy, you should write one — and if you are using the one you wrote in college, you should consider updating it regularly.   Continue reading “Thoughts on the Teaching Philosophy”