Author - Leila Viss

Take the Sweat out of August with a Freebie and a Super Hot Tip!

After you’ve worked hard to set the studio calendar, do families still seem to forget the dates of important studio events?  Andrea West has a timely solution that will help you stay cool and avoid the heat that comes with this time of year. You’ll want some of her lovely program designs to implement her tip. In addition, she has created some dynamite editable covers for your student binders, too. The good news? The downloadable binder covers are free with any purchase here at 88pianokeys.me!

First, read her super tip below and then you’ll want to check out her colorful recital covers. 

-Leila


It’s the hottest time of the year for many of us. And, for piano teachers everywhere, it’s when we start sweating over the scheduling of the fall semester!

We build slick calendars, we shuffle students around like a seasoned pro, we design gorgeous spreadsheets, and then we email everything to our families. Most of us feel inordinately accomplished when we are done. Especially because more often than not, only a few people have emailed back asking for a change or clarification.

But then you start to wonder if they even read your email. You get a text from one parent asking when the semester begins; another asks if there will be a fall recital this year. It was all in the email you sent out.You can send your emails, adding a “Request a Read Receipt”, or print all your documents and send them home with students during the first week of lessons, but chances are you will still have a good number of parents asking about recital dates just weeks before your concert. It’s enough to make you get a little hot AND sweaty, too!

This year I decided to do what brides have been doing for years. I’ve created Save The Date magnets. It’s such a simple solution; I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. Using the same cover art that I will use for my program cover, I imported it into VistaPrint.com. For less than $1 per magnet, I have a beautiful 4”x5”recital reminder that will most likely reside on refrigerators in all my families’ homes.

For those who enjoy doing crafts, you could easily print as many as four to a page, laminate them, attach a magnet to the back, and create your own Save The Date refrigerator magnet.

For the super crafty teachers out there, it would be cute to design a clothes pin to look like a snowman or scarecrow. Then, simply attach a magnet to the back, and families can clip your reminder to their fridge.

The possibilities are endless, but in the end you’ve not only created a fun and unique keepsake, your families are sure to remember the date of the recital!


Remember, with any purchase of Andrea’s designs at 88pianokeys.me, you’ll receive two free editable covers for your student binders. This means you can type in them and change the info as you please.

Make sure to take a peek at all of Andrea’s designs for Fall, Christmas or Winter theme recitals. Did you know that she also creates black and white designs to color? Check them out here.

To get your freebie, go shopping at the Piano Teacher Planning Center and fill up your cart with at least one program cover (and any other product) and then when you view your cart, there will be a pop up window inviting you to take advantage of the free gift.

Make sure to check the small box on the image and then

click “ADD GIFT” and the free download will appear in your cart.

Stay in touch and stay cool,

-Leila

 

 

What does GRIT look like in the music studio?

Believe it or not, talent has little to do with success. The extensive research by professor Angela Duckworth has found that those with grit will have more success.

Watch the video (found on the Facebook page of Illumeably.com ) to hear more.

After watching Duckworth’s video, it got me wondering what grit would look like in the music studio and made me want to dig deeper into the topic.

“Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance.”

According to Duckworth, “grit has a more significant correlation to high school graduation rates than things like family income and social status do.” Read More

Keeping Safe with Password Safety and Online Security

Do you panic when prompted to enter a password?

I feel your pain to remember them all and therefore took the advice of a high-tech guru. Believe it or not, she advised me to keep things simple and write down all my passwords in a small notebook and keep it in a safe place. The comfort of this precious notebook soothes the soul when it’s time for a password. It’s pretty old school but, it’s been working for me. I’d suggest the same system for you UNTIL you are ready to jump into a more up-to-date solution.

There, I’ve made a confession, my life is not as “techy” as one might think. I tend to wait for trends to be set before I dive in. From what I’ve gathered from friends and colleagues, it’s evident that a tool called LastPass is THE way to go when you are ready to shed the notebook and save passwords in 21st-century style. You’ll read more about it in this guest post written by Nathan Hughes at SecureThoughts.com.

Nathan supplies excellent information that we all NEED to know in this digital age. You’ll learn about the need for password security, what makes a good password, what’s the best way to manage passwords and how to avoid scams.  

-Leila


Technology makes today’s world go round—it is the oil that greases all modern trade and social interactions. It helps businesses promote their interests and it keeps us in contact with the people we care about.

Yet technology is evolving at an incredible pace. Whereas at the turn of the century few of us had mobile devices (and those that did were limited almost exclusively to basic calling), nearly everyone today carries a phone, tablet or other device.

Even our children are armed with the latest tech, with some studies suggesting over half of kids in elementary and middle school own a cell phone. For all the benefits we derive from technology, there’s one little issue most of us still struggle with: security. Read More

What We Can Learn from the Parents of Condoleezza Rice, Pianist and Politician

Last week I had the privilege of hearing Condoleezza Rice give the keynote address at the MTAC (Music Teachers of California) conference where the theme was “Breaking Barriers.” It was an honor I soon won’t forget; first, of course, because of the spectacular story of inspiration Ms Rice wove and secondly, because I took notes! Not copious notes but, enough to build an outline to share.

After a week of musing over Ms Rice’s speech, I made some insights about her story and parenting styles. I hope you’ll read to the end as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(Here’s a link to a free download of the article if you’d like to share a hard copy with your families.)

Read More

How two teachers created a dynamic Baroque Bash and guess what’s coming soon!

How do you invite 21st-century digital natives into the culture and music of powdered-wig times? You hold a Baroque Bash! I did last year and blogged about it. It never dawned on me that other teachers would follow suit and amplify my ideas into something bigger and much better!

Here’s Hannah Greiner to tell us more about the Baroque Bash she produced with fellow teacher, Susan Hamblin-Dennis.

Make sure to watch the video at the end of the post…there’s something coming soon that will help your studio GO Baroque!

-Leila


For most piano teachers, their personal experience with piano lessons as a child probably revolved around learning technique (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc.), repertoire, sight reading, and ear training. These lessons would be at a teacher’s studio, and these activities would occur on the piano bench.

In my lessons, a teacher would sometimes offer stickers for playing a piece well. One of my teachers even offered a “treasure chest” with goodies from the dollar store if I earned enough “A’s” on my assignments (this was such a highlight for me!).

Any historical information was generally taught from a textbook or from the teacher explaining the background behind a piece.

As a piano teacher now, there are SO many resources and ideas from creative teachers around the world, and many activities can happen “off-the-bench.”

My colleague, Susan Hamblin-Dennis, had an idea to implement Leila Viss’s “Going Baroque” idea for our piano students.

We loved Leila’s idea of exposing students to what is typically a “boring” era in music. We wanted to find ways to immerse our students in the Baroque environment and make it fresh and relevant to them.

There were several important aspects we wanted our students to experience: Read More

Group Piano: What it IS and What it ISN’T

On the fence about whether group instruction is right for you? Not sure what format you should use? Good friend and colleague, Marie Lee has some strong opinions on this topic as she should. I consider her an expert in group piano instruction–check out the programs at her Musicality Schools. You can learn more about her experience here or just keep reading and hear what is and what isn’t group piano class.

-Leila


As piano teachers realize that YES, they can make a good living teaching piano, the subject of group classes comes up as a way of increasing studio size and income. But what exactly IS a group class? And what is it NOT? Read More

Feeling the BEET with Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory

Edwin Gordon’s highly recognized and esteemed research leading to the Music Learning Theory (MLT) is defined as

“An explanation and description of appropriate ways students learn one or more styles of music.” p5 of Quick and Easy Introductions by Edwin Gordon

It is not a teaching method that you purchase and follow exclusively. YOU can apply and integrate MLT into your current teaching method, NOW. This is great news! You don’t need to reinvent your approach to enhance it with the MLT philosophy. Keep reading and I’ll explain how. Read More

Can you carve out a career by ear?

Jake Mirow is one of those students you don’t forget. Don’t get me wrong, I treasure all my current and former students but Jake was different. In fact, that’s how Jake came to my studio, because his mom and dad knew he was different and that he needed something different.

What does different mean? Jake has an uncanny ability to play by ear with style and flair. The best way to explain it? He’s hard-wired differently than most.

Example? After seeing the movie Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey in 2009, Jake returned to his lesson and played a jaw-dropping medley of the soundtrack. It’s like his ears have a photographic memory?!?

Mmm….what does a classically trained pianist trying to get over her own fear of improvising do with a student like Jake? Read More

Two Big Changes for Me and The Benefits for You

Opportunity knocked two times this spring.

#1

The first opportunity that will make a significant impact in my work week is a position banner-192-20130306132137I recently accepted at the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music. I’m pleased and honored to be heading up their Piano Preparatory program. I’ll be collaborating with Chee-Hwa Tan, colleague, good friend and brilliant pedagogy professor at the university. I’ll also be working with and mentoring graduate students as we provide group and private lesson instruction to youngsters around the ages of 6-11. I’ll be working in this beautiful building on the lovely DU campus.

How does this change for me benefit you? Read More

What happens when the regular recital venue isn’t available?

When God closes a door He opens a window.

It’s a cliche, I know, but it seems so fitting for my recital experience this spring!

Two composers holding their original cover art and recital trophies

Two composers holding their original cover art and recital trophies

Earlier this year, I learned that after a decade of presenting recitals at the church where I hold a full-time organist position, I would not be able to this year.

After I calmed down and stopped fuming about it–my friend and I made a pact that you can hold on to feelings like this for no longer than a week–I told myself I had to begin thinking outside the box and beyond the closed door.

My thoughts

Another church sanctuary just wouldn’t be the same.

I’ve held informal recitals at the local Whole Foods but it’s noisy and not the intimate setting I wanted for my event.

Then it came to me Read More