After getting my first taste of a national conference as a college student, I made a commitment early on in my career to always ensure I was making enough income to be able to afford professional development opportunities like these. There’s nothing like investing in yourself — you’re your greatest asset! Experiences like conferences can reap long-lasting benefits for improving your teaching, improving your business, and keeping yourself fresh and motivated in your career as a piano teacher.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic might still be putting a “pause” in larges in-person events, but we can still connect virtually! I am pretty excited about TWO upcoming music teacher conferences that are going virtual for 2021.
After moving from Northwest Ohio to Southeast Michigan in December of 2020, I had promised to give you a tour of my new studio space. Somehow, a year has already passed…but I’m finally delivering on that promise! Below is a photo tour as well as a video tour (scroll down to the end). I think it’s always fun to see other teachers’ piano studios, so I hope you’ll enjoy!
Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.”
Learning is risky.
It means our self esteem might take a blow. It means our attempts might look inept. It means we might realize just how much we don’t know.
Young children don’t have this problem. They are accustomed to having to learn new things all the time. And as the quote points out, they have little awareness of their own self-importance. As a result, they generally aren’t shy about jumping in to try something new!
Maybe we can “stay young” and learn from kids. We can choose to not allow our pride to get hurt when we are in those awkward learning stages. Maybe we can try to recover quickly, laugh it off, and not allow those moments to get to us.
How can we help our students, as they grow up, stay open to risky learning experiences?
“Take the attitude of a student: never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”
This message is a GOOD ONE for us to keep in mind as we all become older and wiser. We are naturally good learners as children, but as we grow up sometimes we become less willing or less open to learning new things.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can assume the attitude of a student, no matter how old we are. We can be comfortable with the fact that we don’t know everything. We can be willing to ask questions. We can be EXCITED when there are opportunities to learn new things.
Moreover, we can MODEL this attitude for the young ones in our charge. Have your students witnessed your excitement to try out new piano literature with them? Have they seen you introduce new resources, teaching aids, or projects? Have they seen you perform in your studio recitals? Have they heard about your own practice strategies? Have they seen you embrace new technology? If so, that’s awesome!!
As teachers, let’s strive to not only be the best teachers we can be, but also the best learners we can be.
How are your lessons going? I imagine many of you are continuing to teach online, while some of you have returned to in-person lessons — depending upon where you live, among other factors.
Currently, my lessons are still online, using FaceTime/Zoom. I have 15 students who are based in Northwest Ohio (where I lived before moving last December). I am teaching them online until I feel it is safe to resume teaching at the small studio space I was renting.
I also have two Michigan-based students, so far. When the quarantine arrived, my husband and I changed our original plans in terms of marketing my piano studio after our move and childcare for our baby daughter, Aria. When things become more “normal” (whatever that means!), I will at some point begin more actively seeking new students. For now, I’m okay with the change in plans and am content with my current home life and teaching life!
Earlier this summer, I saw a few Instagram posts from piano teachers who thought to offer “porch recitals” or “patio lessons.” Inspired by this out-of-the-box thinking, I decided I’d like teach lessons for my two Michigan students outside on my back patio for a time or two, just for fun. So, I started closely watching the weather forecasts.
It’s been a hot summer, but last week I finally saw an opportunity. The weekend weather was supposed comfortably in the 70s. So, I emailed my two Michigan students. They loved the idea!
And so, last Saturday, we had in-person outdoor lessons on my back patio. And it was wonderful! It was nice to be face-to-face and enjoy the beautiful weather as well. I hope to do this again a time or two before the winter weather hits.
Do you have a portable instrument and an outdoor space for something like this? In this blog post, I’ll share some ideas and a to-do list in case you’d like to try something similar yourself!
I’m pleased to announce that a new piano piece is now available in my shop! If you’re looking for something jazzy and fun for mid-intermediate level students, you might be interested in checking out this piece.
It’s called Where the Train Tracks End. This piece is in rondo form (ABACA) and the key of B minor. It opens with finger snaps over a descending bass line, which leads into the syncopation and laidback vibe of the main theme. The B section consists of flashy-sounding patterns that race up the piano, while the C section is upbeat with a walking bass line. There is an opportunity to improvise towards the end of the piece. This three-page piece is perfect for recitals as well as for personal pleasure.
I composed this piece a few years back as part of a “Pedagogical Commissioning Project” organized by my Ohio-based colleague, Andy Villemez. The project brings 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 wrote the piece Where the Train Tracks End specifically for a student named Brielle in Durham, NC.
Interested in purchasing the sheet music? It’s available in my shop as a PDF download. There are both Single User and Studio License options available, both of which come with an MP3 audio recording. View Where the Train Tracks End in my shop here. I hope it’s a piece your students would enjoy!
How are you all? I’ve been quiet here on the blog, but keeping myself busy as usual! Baby Aria keeps me busy, and I also have a couple of projects coming down the pipeline that you’ll hear about sooner or later. 🙂
I’m still teaching my piano lessons online during these Covid times and practicing physical distancing as appropriate. Here in Michigan, our quarantine measures have loosened somewhat compared to be before, but there are guidelines still in place to keep us safe. I know the specific guidelines vary greatly state-by-state and country-by-country according to the current risk in each area. I hope we can agree it’s important to be smart and cautious during these times.
I’d really love to hear from you all about how you are faring and what life during Covid-19 is like currently in your neck of the woods. You’ll have a chance to do so — more on that in just a moment!
But first, let me back up and introduce you to my sister, Heather. We are teaming up to offer you a giveaway.
Fast forward to the present, and guess what: I’m still a GoodNotes fan. I have it loaded on my iPhone, iPad, AND my MacBook. It works with my Apple Pencil, and I use it for all sorts of purposes: taking notes during conferences, hashing out or capturing ideas, composing, as well as storing teaching resources.
My student recital this year was canceled, as I’m sure is the case for many of you due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In place of our in-person event, my students and I moved forward with “Plan B” — organizing a “virtual recital”. I went about this process similar to the way my friend Jonathan Roberts did, as discussed in this recent Teacher Feature post.
I pretty pleased with how it turned out, and I’d actually like to use this recital format again sometime in the future! In this long-form blog post, I’ll share specific steps for how I went about organizing and publishing my studio’s virtual recital, and what I learned along the way.
STUDIO LICENSE Permission is granted for the purchasing teacher to make unlimited printouts and use the digital files for the purpose of teaching their own students. Sharing printouts or the digital files beyond that purpose is not permitted. The purchaser is not permitted to resell the item(s), or alter, modify, or create derivative works.
Basically, I want you to be able to freely use your purchased files with your students, but I also appreciate that you don’t aid others in avoiding purchasing the items for themselves. (For example, don’t email out the files to all your fellow teachers!) 😉
MTNA’s 2020 Virtual Conference
In other news… Did you know that MTNA’s 2020 National Conference went virtual this year, and that they’ve made all the sessions available to ANY music teacher worldwide? Check out the MTNA Virtual Conference here! So far, I’ve watched a handful of the sessions and am planning to gradually make my way through them all.
It certainly was disappointing for MTNA to have to cancel their plans to hold the national conference in Chicago last month, but how generous of them to pivot and move everything online. As usual, I’m proud to be an MTNA member!