It was a cold Thursday evening in November of 2013. I remember because I was driving to choir rehearsal–always held on Thursday evenings. While trying to concentrate on the road, my mind was racing after reading and rereading this email from Philip Johnston:
“Having read some of your articles at 88pianokeys.me, here’s what I can’t get out of my head, and what should be circling in yours:
You really—in a don’t even stop to think about it, just do it, because you’ll regret it one day if you don’t and you’re good at this—should turn your writing into a book.
Your thoughts on iPads springs to mind as an example of exactly the sort of information that music teachers everywhere should be reading.”
As Johnston has been a respected source of inspiration for me for years in his books The Practice Revolution and The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents, and build the music studio everyone wants to get into, I was completely stunned by his unsolicited encouragement and was immediately convinced that yes, I had to write a book. OK, I’m a pushover I admit, but this kick in the pants was the needed boost that catapulted me into the world of writing “for real.” Continue reading
Are you tired of
- Not making a consistent income?
- Giving make-up lessons?
- Parents asking for refunds?
- Students sitting for 20 minutes after their lesson because Mom’s running one more errand?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then you need–no, you MUST–attend Wendy Steven’s webinar
Best Stress-Free Business Practices for the Piano Studio
Watch this video (click here) to see what the webinar will offer.
You know you’ve got a good thing when the dog jumps in the back of the car. Marlow was gently coaxed out of the hatch to make room for the drums, guitar, notebooks, Toebourines,™ a couple of computers and of course some iPads all for the first day of our 88 Creative Keys Camp in Ohio.
For a number of years, Bradley Sowash has worked with Suzuki Music Columbus for Strings and it was suggested (somewhat at the last-minute) that this year we hold our camp in collaboration with theirs held every year at Otterbein University. As it’s hard to say “no” to such an offer and as we were both willing to improvise on short notice, we agreed and made plans to stake our claim and set up camp in Ohio.
Teaching Creativity Track: For Teachers
There were some unfortunate glitches along the way due to various events held at the same time so our teacher track was few in numbers but mighty in energy and pizzazz. The fun-loving group dug into every tip, strategy, technique and app suggested. Continue reading
Summer can mean fewer lessons and less time at the keys. JoyTunes, the developers of Piano Maestro, are keenly aware of this and figured parents might like some suggestions to keep those fingers wiggling at the ivories. I’ve posted the article, originally written for JoyTunes, at 88PianoKeys.me as teachers may find these tips helpful during lessons and assign as home practice as well. A HUGE thank you to the JoyTunes’ graphics team who designed such adorable and fitting pics!
OOPS! Never heard of Piano Maestro? If not, you are missing out on the TOP piano app according to teachers, parents and students. Get your free version here and see why.
Maestro League Baseball
Bradley Sowash was recently interviewed by Andrea Dow of TeachPianoToday.com. Below is a repost of his blog at EyeEarRevolution.com that features a link to the podcast. The dynamic interview is definitely worth your time as Bradley gives away his “trade secrets” and shows that yes, he is an expert improviser and an expert teacher of improvisation. Many of his answers include lists, mantras and tips you won’t want to miss. One of his lists is featured in his latest blog post linked below.
Hearing Bradley talk and reading his posts at EyeEarRevolution.com are helpful, but immersing yourself in his systematic teaching style is priceless–I should know as I’ve been his apprentice and business partner for the past year. In fact, there’s still time to register for the 88 Creative Keys Camp in Ohio and Denver to learn more. Bradley and I would love to see you there!
Bradley’s Post at EyeEarRevolution.com:
Inspiration and How To Tips
After hearing my presentations about improvisation at a couple of conferences, my friend and fellow piano teacher, Gilya, suggested I consider offering “less cheerleading and more content.” Her wise comment helped me solidify advocacy into a two-pronged strategy for integrating improvisation into music lessons.
As an advocate for musical creativity, half of my job is to encourage (okay, prod) the uninitiated to “dive in” by closing the music books now and then. The other half is offering teaching tips to those who have already taken the “off page” plunge. You’ll find plenty of both by digging deeper into this blog, my “That’s Jazz” books, and by attending my professional development events on this topic. And now, thanks to Andrea and Trevor at Teach Piano Today, you have a new way to check out my ideas on this topic.
Grab some headphones and listen in for “hands-free” professional development while you drive or do dishes this Memorial Day weekend by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom for the “play” button after reading Trevor’s delightful introduction.
Steps To Introducing A New Creative Concept
Lest I only “cheerlead” with this post (thanks again Gilya), here are some details on one of the points Andrea and I discuss in that podcast. To get a student to try out a new improvisation idea, follow these steps.
Show your student how to play a level-appropriate left-hand accompaniment on a chord progression or ostinato bassline. If you need ideas, you can always use the bass clef part of a tune they have already learned. Next, ask your student to improvise a right-hand part within specifically limited parameters. For example, you could limit it to creatively using just one note, mixing up the melody, or playing around with the pentatonic scale. Hold them to it. Initially, they mustn’t stray from the limitations.
Compliment….to continue reading, click here.
In need of games for your next group lesson, piano party or summer camp? Here are two activities to implement that promise minimum effort coupled with maximum potential for fun and learning.
Game #1: Piano Charades
My favorite app for this game is called Decide Now–only 99 cents! Although it’s not a music related app it is so easy to customize that you won’t be able to stop using it. Piano Charades is just one example of how I implement this versatile app to reinforce music terminology by students acting out Italian terms at the keys. Here are the steps:
1) Call out words such as: piano, forte, fermata, ritardando, presto, largo, etc. and nudge students to act them out physically. This means YOU need to do it, too. For example: piano could be walking on tip toes while ritardando could be jogging in place and gradually slowing down the pace–like a train approaching a station.
2) After all terms are physically re-enacted, have the students jot down each term to review the spelling and the definition. If they are youngsters, have them draw a picture instead of writing out the definition. Ex: ritardando could be represented with a train engine.
4) The performer must spin the wheel featuring all the terms just reviewed without letting the others see where the Wheel-of-Fortune-like spinner stops.
5) The pianist at the bench must then play the same phrase but this time change the performance to “portray” the term.
6) The audience guesses the word and if they guess correctly, everyone wins a “fabulous prize” as the performer was successful in communicating the music term through a performance and the audience demonstrated excellent listening skills.
There’s nothing like being inspired by a fellow colleague. It seems that the somewhat isolated job of an independent piano teacher is now becoming a life filled with stimulating dialogue, exchanging of ideas and collaboration thanks to the wonders of Facebook, Linked-In, Pinterest, blogs–in general, the Internet Highway.
The recent JoyTunes webinar (you can catch it here if you missed it) gave me a chance to connect with a young, innovative teacher named David Love. He has a thriving studio in Idaho (with his equally talented wife, Denae) thanks to their enthusiasm for teaching music at the keys. At the Love’s studio they regularly integrate the use of the iPad into daily instruction which ultimately led David and I into joining forces for the JoyTunes webinar.
If you are not aware, I’ve written a book (The iPad Piano Studio) about integrating the iPad into piano lessons. This book includes QR codes that when scanned bring you to a partner site that includes continual blog posts and a growing video library (learn more here.) One of the columns included in The iPad Piano Studio blog is called “The iPad Piano Teacher” where I include interviews of others to discover how they boost their teaching with the iPad. It seemed logical to include David in this column and I’m thankful for the time he took to answer my questions!
Note: make sure to like the Love Family Piano Page on Facebook. It will give you a sneak peek at all the innovative opportunities David and Denae offer their students AND it showcases some of their marvelous performances at the keys.
David’s Brief Bio
David Love is the co-director a large, successful piano studio in Rexburg, Idaho. As a young, experienced teacher, he offers contemporary but a proven approach to teaching with music technology that keeps the phone ringing. In July of 2013, after three years of part-time piano teaching, both he and his wife made the decision to open the doors to full-time piano teaching. In less than one month, they doubled the studio to 65 students. Now with 71 students and Continue reading
Let’s face it, which one of YOUR students is headed to Carnegie Hall? Let’s go further and ask the question: how many parents who contact you about lessons are hoping their budding musician masters a Bach fugue–especially those who begin a little later? One more: how many of your students around the age of 12 or so decide to stop lessons because they have lost interest?
Digging even deeper, although you would love to have students willingly practice everything you assign, teaching piano is not always that easy. In addition, if you hope to develop a thriving studio, it’s not always about your desires and tastes but more about pleasing the local customer base. This may require an adjustment from your past lesson experience and pedigree. A typical, traditional approach may not match those who warm your bench. I dare say that if you want to be profitable and run a successful business, it may be necessary to make some changes, take time to understand the motivation behind teens (and really any age) at the keys and carry additional strategies up your sleeve.
Tim Topham has recognized this deficit between the training of most piano teachers and the expectations of today’s potential students–especially those in the teen years. His practical e-book called Teen Teaching Toolkit provides tips that promise to help you deal with the delicate teen psyche.
“Teenagers don’t quit piano because they don’t like music, it’s much more likely to be due to ineffective teaching and/or a lack of connection with their teacher.”
- Tim Topham
What a pleasure to have you on board the latest JoyTunes Webinar! I hope it provided new ideas and inspired you to carry on your revolutionary, 21st-century piano teaching.
Here are links to the apps mentioned throughout the hour:
- Decide Now – the duct tape app: a must in your gamification tool box. Play Piano Charades at your next group lesson!
- Camera – comes “free” with your iPad, don’t forget its power to command focus unlike anything else.
- Piano Maestro – THE perfect power tool app for building strong reading skills. Here’s the curriculum guide listing all the sheet music available in the app PianoMania_RankCurriculum
- Flashnote Derby – best app to isolate and review note names.
- Multi-Touch Whiteboard - an irresistible doodle pad to review basics.
- forScore - download all the Piano Maestro sheet music into this score reading app. Here’s the user guide: forScore User Guide
Tips for downloading Piano Maestro scores into forScore:
- Purchase forScore from the App Store.
- Click on the link to the Pdf’s provided above while on your iPad browser (Safari.)
- Tap on the Curriculum document and it will prompt you to “Open In” various apps.
- Choose forScore.
- Choose the “+” and it will automatically download the Pdf into the forScore app.
- Create a JoyTunes Library.
- While viewing the Curriculum Guide, tap on the link to a song.
- Choose the “+” and it will automatically download the Pdf into the forScore app.
- Tag each Pdf with the correct chapter number and place within the JoyTunes library.