Category - iPad Apps

Do Simple Better

As teachers, it’s our job to make things clear. This often requires introducing new concepts by breaking them up into bite-sized nuggets that can be quickly understood. We must make the seemingly difficult appear simple.

I recently stumbled upon this quote by Joe Maddon, the manager who led the Cubs to their first World Series title in over 100 years:

“Do simple better.”

It got me asking: what would Maddon’s challenge look like on the piano bench?

I came up with four examples of doing SIMPLE better and labelled them:

  • Expand then extract
  • Play then say
  • Explore then explain
  • Lead then let go

The video below (click here if you can’t see it) expands on these four items. Read the article found here and then watch the video.

Make sure to READ MORE so you can learn about a fantastic idea for your next piano party or studio event…

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

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.  


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

Use a Green Screen for Virtual Performances

The recital venue that I’ve enjoyed for years is no longer available for me to use. It’s a long story so I’ll save it for another post. This turned my world upside down and has had me looking for other possible venues and performance opportunities for my students. When I saw Amber post videos of her students playing piano “virtually” anywhere with the help of a green screen, I had to learn how she did it! Amber has generously written down the steps she took to make this a reality. 

Take it away, Amber…

I love sparking imagination in my students! One of the ways I do this, is to let them perform virtually anywhere! It’s surprisingly easy to create these virtual performance videos.

Here is what you need:

  1. Green screen background: You need a green background of some sort. The best background I have found is the large green canvas sheets that come with the green screen studio kits. You can find the kits, or canvas backgrounds on Amazon. In a bind, I have also used a green plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Store! It worked! Check out the green screen kit here.
  2. Good lighting: I cannot emphasize this enough. Lighting will make or break your videos. Shadows will produce a pixelated effect. The best lighting I have found are the lights that come with the green screen studio 41tntsirx1l-_sx355_kits. I have used table lamps before but, they just cannot produce the same effect.
  3. A green screen app: My favorite green screen app is Green Screen by Do Ink. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use.
  4. Garageband: I use Garageband to record the audio portion of the video.
  5. iMovie: I import my green screen video and the audio into iMovie to edit and create the finished product!
  6. Intro app: I like creating a fun movie intro with Intro Designer Lite.
  7. A keyboard that can be hooked up to an iPad.
  8. A tripod, or other support to hold your iPad for recording. [Leila likes the Manos Mount.}

Now on to the fun part! Read More

Three MUST-HAVE Apps for Your Studio


Flashcards are a thing of the past thanks to Flashnote Derby. Rhythm Swing keeps students occupied for a full 30 minutes during Off Bench Time teaching rhythmic concepts with engaging tutorials and drills. Dragon Scales challenges students to spell scales before the dragon conquers the knight. They all offer SO much more than edutainment!


Off Bench Time is the perfect time to reinforce what you teach on the bench. You don’t need a lot of space to add this component to your lessons. You don’t even need a keyboard, you can use your acoustic piano! If you do want a MIDI keyboard so students can play games with headphones but, don’t’ have the space, this gal is using a small the XKey Portable Keyboard. Learn more about it by clicking on the picture.

I could not teach without these three apps. I thought long and hard before I wrote that sentence but, I know this statement is true so I want YOU to learn all about them. For these reasons, I made a point of contacting Luke Bartolomeo, the developer of the three apps.

In the “Here to Help” video below, you’ll hear how fellow piano teacher Luke, developed these apps because he saw the need for appealing apps that reinforce music concepts and has always liked video games. He steps through the process of how each app works. It’s definitely worth your time if you are not sure how apps can benefit your teaching and keep students happy and learning at the same time. I’m particularly excited about the new features just added to Flashnote Derby.

Here are the show notes which I quickly jotted down during the interview…

Show Notes

Learn about the new features of a favorite pitch recognition app called Flashnote Derby. See how the app Rhythm Swing teaches rhythm reading and learn how Dragon Scales builds scale playing skills and connects with students of all ages.

Rhythm Swing

For iOS only.
App that teaches basic note values, rests and rhythm reading.
Released a year ago.
The app is divided into Basic Notes, Rest, and Eighth notes.
Additional levels are planned for the future.

Three modes
Learn: Interactive videos giving instruction on note values and how to play the app.
Practice: Provides sample exercises which are perfect for using in a lesson.
Play: Exercises are given and students try to keep the monkey from the alligator by playing correct rhythms–perfect during Off Bench Time.
All exercises add melody to the rhythm and a backing track as the students play so it’s engaging and musically pleasing.

Tip: Ear icon on the right hand upper corner will play the rhythm if the student wants to hear it.

Tips on Settings:
You can turn off the pointer and it will reappear if student is off the beat.
Measure highlighting is an option if you the student needs help with tracking.
Required Accuracy can be changed so it’s not too difficult for first time players.

The Boss Stage: Like many other video games, this stage “makes it real” with much longer exercises.

Both Rhythm Swing and Flashnote Derby are iPhone friendly–great for students when they are on the road.

FYIRhythm Make it Count Facebook-2

Rhythm Swing is a major part of my Rhythm Make it Count resource. If you are interested in learning more about how to integrate apps, reinforce concepts and add more quality time to lessons, take a closer look at Rhythm Make it Count. It’s on sale for one week only so grab it now right here.

Flashnote Derby

Multi-platform friendly.

Happy 5th anniversary! Version three just came out at the beginning of 2017.

Treble, Bass, Alto and Tenor Clef drills are available.

Mistakes are reviewed after the race is completed letting students know what notes they missed.

Tips for Settings Gear
You can determine how many questions or tap “All selected” so that all notes that you select for the exercise are answered.
The time can be changed for how long students have to answer: Trot, Gallop…
Answer methods vary: onscreen piano, letter button, piano letters, listen mode.

NEW! The listen mode will hear the student play the pitches on an acoustic piano.
Sensitivity setting is important—make sure to adjust if needed.

NEW! There’s a MIDI option—this is perfect for those who want students to complete drills in the music studio with head phones. That would be me!

You can change the arrangement of alphabet letters to begin with C rather than A.

There’s an option for Solfege.

Two themes are available right now but, stay tuned for more.

Instructional videos give ideas on how to teach pitch reading. I GREATLY appreciate these!

Grand staff flash cards are available on the iPad so students get used to recognizing a note on the grand staff and not just on a single staff.

In the presets, you can create your own drills and send them to students.

NEW: you can set up Multiple User accounts and the app will track progress for each student.

Internet is required to download the exercises emailed from the teacher. Once they are downloaded, internet is not required.

Dragon Scales

This is a niche app that will have future versions. Students are asked to play scales correctly on an on-screen keyboard. This will help the knight slay the dragon and find the treasure.

There are presets for different tests.

Students of all ages like this “quirky” yet much-needed app.


Luke is happy to hear from you and can be reached at Thanks again to Luke for making three apps I couldn’t teach without!

This video is stored along with other “Here to Help Videos” found here.

Those who signed up for my newsletter learned about the giveaway Luke offered. Don’t miss another exclusive offer by signing up here.


If you can’t see the video, click here.


A Look Back at Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources in 2016

Grab a cup of coffee–here’s 40 resources worth your time!

My friend and colleague Marie Lee and I compiled a list of winning resources that worked for us in 2016, and we can’t wait to share them with you. They are organized according to topic.

What did we forget? We didn’t include everything we intended–we had to stop some where.

What would you add to the list?

Professional and Creative Development


Piano Teacher Planning Center is a brand new component of I’m so excited to piano teacherplanning centerhave a store–no, a center–where teachers will find a growing collection of free and for-purchase teaching aids, some created by me but others created by fellow teachers who have great ideas.

In celebration of the new year, there’s a store-wide sale until January 15, 2017. By the way, if you have a cool game or product that you want to sell, contact me at and let’s plan to make it part of the PTPC in 2017. -Leila


I attended my first 88 Creative Keys Workshop in Denver this past summer. I waited almost an entire year and 88 CK was well worth it! It was one of the best things I could do for my continuing education as a teacher.  You can read reviews from 2016 attendees here and learn more about 2017’s workshop here. -Marie
Here’s a video of Leila leading a body beat activity with teachers.


Tim Topham’s podcasts keep me happily occupied on my Sunday afternoon walks. I look forward to them each week. Tim finds the best guests who discuss–you guessed it–trendsetting topics! Here are seven of my favorite podcasts because they deal with creativity at the keys. -Leila


I look forward to Amy Chaplin’s Piano Pantry Friday Finds. Amy is one of my new, favorite bloggers. -Marie


Even though I didn’t practice like I should have, I learned so much from Bradley’s online lesson session that I can use with my students. Bradley Sowash is encouraging and informative. It has opened up a whole new world of piano playing for me. -Marie


ForScore, Turbo Scan, the Air Turn Pedal and the iPad Pro is a combo I’ve used every Sunday since writing my December 2015 blog post. I’m not sure how I survived without this set up. In the post you’ll learn how I move hard copy sheet music to ForScore so I can enjoy hands-free page turns. This is the wave of the future for reading scores. -Leila Read More

Rhythm Lab: Here to Help Video and Giveaway

A huge thank you goes out to Jon Ensminger, developer of one of my all-time favorite apps calledRhythm Make it Count Facebook-2 Rhythm Lab. He generously carved out time to share a Google Hangout with me. He walked through and explained virtually every part of the app. You don’t want to miss this video recording! Keep reading where you can sign up to win a free code for Rhythm Lab. Get the app here if you can’t wait.

There are numerous Rhythm Lab assignments featured in my off-bench resource Rhythm Make it Count. In fact, Jon was kind enough to add Rhythm Make it Count (RMIC) patterns in the latest Rhythm Lab update!  If you purchased RMIC you will definitely want to tune in and learn all you can from Jon. If you haven’t yet, good news! Rhythm Make it Count is on sale until November 14th. Purchase Rhythm Make It Count here.

What you’ll learn in the videorhythm_lab_icon_135x135

  • How to set up user accounts within the app.
  • An explanation of all the icons and how they work within the app.
  • How to create, edit and share worksheets.
  • How to create, edit and share customized patterns.
  • How to use Rhythm Lab with a MIDI keyboard.
  • How to create backing tracks for rhythms in Rhythm Lab with Audio Bus and iReal Pro.
  • Tips for smaller MIDI keyboards:

Where to find more Here to Help Videos

So far, all the Here to Help videos highlight apps are featured in Rhythm Make it Count–my resource that correlates off-bench activities and apps assignments to rhythm concepts. The videos cover these apps:  Notability, SproutBeat and Rhythm Lab.

New off-bench resources will be coming in the future and so will more Here to Help videos.

The growing library of Here to Help Videos can be found here.

Sign up here for your chance to win

Jon has generously offered to give FIVE FREE codes for Rhythm Lab! Sign up below. Winners will be announced on Friday, November 11, 2016.


Make sure to enter your FIRST NAME and EMAIL address.

Heads Up…

Upbeat Piano Teachers Courses are available again. I’ve included information about this unique series before. The courses feature in-depth coverage of technology, group lessons and how to get more students. They also come with notebooks for each topic to help you organize your thoughts.

If you have not made a point of watching the bundle of courses and need a boost in your teaching, get it now, HERE. You are then welcome to become a part of a unique, beneficial and supportive Facebook group, too. Click on the picture to access Upbeat Piano Teachers


PS: I’ve been doing a good deal of promoting lately, I know. But, I like sharing what works. Thanks for your continued to support and following. 🙂

How to Use SproutBeat and a Special Offer

How would answer these questions?

Do you want to easily integrate the iPad into your curriculum?

Do you despise a paper trail of random worksheets?

Do you often run out of ink for your printer?

Do you find that theory book assignments are rarely completed?

Do you need colorful and helpful worksheets to reinforce concepts for your students?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of the questions above, then you NEED SproutBeat.

In a nutshell, SproutBeat™ is more than a collection of worksheets – it’s a digital workbook with unlimited pages. It puts 1000+ resources at your fingertips on the iPad OR, you can print them off. It makes the task of tediously searching for supplemental worksheets a thing of the past. And, you can easily organize and assign them to individual students. The video below shows you how it works!

Exciting news about SproutBeat and RMIC

My recent resource, Rhythm Make it Count or RMIC for short, correlates SproutBeat worksheets with rhythm concepts. Eik and James Mar, the developers of SproutBeat graciously created folders within the app so you can easily access the worksheets included in RMIC.

Tip: The RMIC folders are available for those who purchase the Plus plan.

In addition, Eik and James have generously offered these coupon codes good through October 15, 2016 for readers.

For the Plus Plan use the code 88KeysPlus ($72 for the year)
For the Standard Plan use the code 88KeysStandard ($48 per year)
Sign up for either of these as an annual plan (opposed to a monthly plan) using the codes above and the discount will be good for one year.
For full details on the plans and pricing, follow this link.

Order your subscription to SproutBeat here.

Then learn all about it in the video below as Eik gives us a tour through the app. If you can’t see the video, follow this link

What you’ll learn about SproutBeat in the video

1) Why Eik and James Mar developed SproutBeat.Sproutbeat_Site_v3-04

2) How to create folders of worksheets within the app.

3) A description of the three account levels in SproutBeat which can be set up on the website–not through the app!

  • Free: Limited Worksheets
  • Standard: 650 worksheets
  • Plus: all the content (always growing!) with the ability to reorganize
  • Studio: All the content plus the ability to set up accounts for each student which then allows you to assign and grade worksheets to single students.

4) How to use SproutBeat if you don’t have Wi-FI while teaching. Using the Offline option is handy but remember, this takes up storage on your iPad.

5) How to move worksheets from one folder to another.Sproutbeat_Site_v3-05

6) What happens when you tap on Refresh Library. Make sure to refresh the library to get the newest worksheets but do so before lessons begin because it takes a little time.

7) Words of advice: Take some time to look through worksheets and take advantage of the option to create your own folders. That way you can quickly find the ones you want organized the way you want.

8) Make sure to check the NEW folder for all the latest new worksheets.

9) Check out the GAME folder where Eik has designed games that can be played on the iPad with cute animal erasers OR they can be printed out for use at group lessons.Sproutbeat_Site_v3-03

10) Eik takes requests! If you need a worksheet, I bet she’d make one for you.

11) Find Eik and James Mar on Facebook and ask to join their SproutBeat Facebook group.

Did you get talked into SproutBeat?

Don’t forget to use these codes and save.
88KeysPlus ($72 for the year) for the Plus plan–which includes the RMIC folders.
88KeysStandard ($48 per year) for the Standard plan.
Make sure to sign up for the annual plan and the discount will be good for one year.


My resource Rhythm Make it Count is still on sale for $20 until October 1st. Get it here.
The recent 88 Creative Keys workshop called Lock In Rhythm Unlock Creativity is receiving rave reviews:
I really got so much out of yesterday’s webinar. The cups and “corn on the cob” saved the day for one student. -Tamy

Thank you so much for the great Rhythm Webinar this past Monday. I loved how you clearly and succinctly walked us through some very practical ways to teach rhythm. Thank you!! – Laurie

Okay, I have to say, this really helped me with creatively naming rhythmic patterns. –Rosemarie

If you’re wondering about the “corn on the cob” and “creatively naming rhythmic patterns,” the teachers are referring to the freebie included in the price of the webinar. Soon the same freebie will be for sale at Piano Teacher Planning Center for around $10. Why not get it for free and see fantastic ideas for teaching rhythm so that it sticks with your students?
Rhythm Webinar with pics
The webinar is over but the video is still available along with all the handouts and the freebies.

Order your video, handouts and freebies here.


This works like a charm when teaching 6/8 time. An index of “produce” words that correlate with various rhythms is one of the freebies with the workshop.

Got Questions about Rhythm Make it Count ? Let me help!

Thank you SO much for the overwhelmingly positive support you’ve shown Rhythm Make it Count. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a resource that features iPad app assignments and off bench activities to reinforce rhythm skills. If you want to know more, watch the video below and go here to place your order. Good news, I’ve extended the special price of $20 through Monday, September 12th. If you can’t see the video, follow this link.

Teaching with the iPad and apps requires knowing many details. So many details that I chose NOT to cover them all in Rhythm Make it Count. The PDF would have taken a year to download!

Video coming soon

Pictures are worth a 1,000 words and videos are worth at least 10,000!

So, I spared you the chapters of explanations and instead will offer a video via YouTube Live (formerly Google Hangouts on Air) explaining how to implement Rhythm Make it Count and the apps featured in the resource. Unlike the usual water-cooler gathering and live feed, I’ll record the video and share the recording in an upcoming post, in the newsletter, on Facebook, etc. There’s no need for you to attend on a certain day at a certain time.

Amy Watt (who generously helped me with the resource) has agreed to join IMG_1247me and will represent YOU–those who are excited about the iPad but want and need more guidance and support. I’m thrilled that Eik Mar of SproutBeat will be joining me as well, to help you navigate that gotta-have-it worksheet app featured throughout the assignment grids.

Got questions?

I’ve got plenty of information to share but next, I need YOUR INPUT!

What do you want to know about apps and Off Bench time so you can make the resource suit your needs? Are you puzzled by how to create folders in Notability? Are you unsure about how to run Off Bench time? Have you figured out how to customize exercises in Ear Master? Do you have the right adaptor to reflect your iPad onto an HDTV?

I’ll be announcing some great news about Rhythm Lab–one of my favorite rhythm apps.

Please think about the questions you have that would be best answered in a video where you can watch over and over again until you’ve got it.

I’m limiting this hour-long video to apps only. Stay tuned for an exciting webinar I’ll be hosting about off bench manipulatives to reinforce rhythm.

Please post your questions in the comment section below.

BTW: there is NO stupid question. Really, I mean it.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Make Rhythm Count in Your Studio with THIS Resource

It’s hot off the 88PK press: Rhythm Make It Count!

Many readers have asked how I organize my Off Bench time. In a nutshell, Off Bench time is when two students arrive at the same time and while one works with me at the piano, the other completes tasks off the bench usually with iPad apps or various manipulatives or games.

Rhythm Make it Count is my attempt to answer your questions. App assignments and off-bench activities are mapped out with consideration for scope and sequence. You’ll have a resource at your finger tips devoted to just about any rhythmic concept you can think of–except polyrhythms–blog coming about that soon!

Even if you aren’t crazy about the iPad or technology or don’t feature an Off Bench time in your studio, you’ll appreciate the innovative activities included in this resource that you can use during private or group lessons.

In addition, if you have an aversion to the printer, ink, paper, and laminator, no worries. I do, too. My go-to activities use standard, household items usually found in the recycle bin.

Call me crazy but look what I like to do with paper plates! Click here if you can’t see the video.


The planning has been done for you in Rhythm Make it Count, now you just have to do it! If you need no further convincing, buy your copy here for a mere $20 (until September 10th). If not, watch the next video below (or click here) and keep reading.

Why rhythm?

Why a comprehensive resource devoted to rhythm? Why rhythm first over any other skill like pitch reading or scales or chords? And furthermore, why combine app assignments with off bench activities?

Let me start with a confession: For years, I hated sight reading and had if it's the right note at the wrong time, it's a wrong noteresigned myself to the fact that I would never be good at it. As I took an accompanist position, suddenly, I had no choice—sight reading was mandatory. What I discovered? That when my rhythm reading became more fluid and confident, my ability to find the right pitches on the keyboard improved dramatically.

How does this connect with a resource devoted to rhythm for students? My ability to comprehend rhythms was not based on my proficiency at counting aloud or even reading pitches. It was based on my ability to feel, locate and isolate each beat in a measure and determine how it was added to another beat or how it was subdivided.

I discovered that counting “1e&a” for four 16th notes didn’t help. But, when I saw beats (for example, quarter notes) as columns and each one divided into 4 equal parts and let myself count “1234” or say “watermelon” for each column, reading tricky rhythms became “easy.”

Overcoming my reading inadequacies has made be passionate about demystifying this complex rhythmic notation for my students.

Yes, reading pitches from the grand staff is tricky but pitches always remain the same. The bottom space of the treble clef will always be an “F” and nothing else. However, the “F” could be played in countless ways—as a quarter note, two 8th notes or a whole note or…you get the point.

None of this intricate knowledge of rhythm will matter until it can be locked into a steady pulse. A pulse is best felt through the body–walking, marching, clapping, drills away from the piano and of course, drumming. Combining the abilities of subdividing and feeling a groove will eventually build strong rhythm readers or RHYTHMANIACS!

What you’ll find in my first tech-savvy, off-bench resource (there’s more to come) is a mix of activities and app assignments that won’t necessarily teach—you’ll still have to do that. It will assist you by providing carefully sequenced strategies for you to build strong “rhythmaniacs” and eventually excellent sight readers and musicians for life. 

What’s in it?

Rhythm Make it Count is a comprehensive, downloadable studio-licensed PDF which comes in sections so you can print or duplicate only the parts you need. Make sure to download them all as soon as your receipt comes in your email inbox!

Part 1  A cover page, Preface and Table of Contents.

Part 2  A Teacher’s Guide which features:

  • My “secrets” about off bench time–or at least most of IMG_1247them.
  • Alphabetized pictures and links to all the hottest rhythm apps featured in the resource.
  • Off bench activities I use to reinforce rhythm in private or group settings usually using repurposed items. I prefer that over printing and laminating.
  • An organized index of favorite activities related to rhythm by creative teachers and bloggers.IMG_1244

Part 3 Round One assignment grid that reviews quarter, half, dotted half, whole notes and rests, 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures.

Part 4 Round Two assignment grid that reviews concepts of Round One and covers ties, upbeats, 16ths, subdivision, 6/8 time, simple vs compound time, triplets, syncopation.

The unique feature of both grids? All assignments are organized into categories. Those that train the eye, those, that train the ear, the hand, the musical imaginations and even the feet!

Part 5 A Get Inspired! Episode featuring unique rhythm-based videos guaranteed to inspire with guide questions to keep viewers engaged.

Part 6 Large pics of app icons to post in your studio so students can recognize and find apps easily.

Who is it for?

1) Those who want to integrate the iPad and top apps into their teaching.1468887168

2) Those who began Off Bench time in their studios and are feeling unsure about what to do like my friend Amy Watt who helped create this resource.

3) Those who want dynamic, engaging off bench activities to reinforce their teaching.

How is it used?

1) Begin by reading the Teacher’s Guide.

2) Study the assignment grids, decide on the apps that appeal to you and learn how to use them.

3) Print off the grids and create folders for each students. Highlight the assignments for them to complete each week and ask them to check it off when finished.

4) Solidify and reinforce the concepts with the supplemental activities on the bench at private or group lessons.


1) Import the assignment sheets into Notability.

2) Create a divider for each day of the week and a folder for each student.

3) Then duplicate the assignment grid and place one in each student folder and continue the process as listed above. More tips are included in the resource.

Where is it?

Order your copy here at the 88PK Piano Teacher Planning Center now and save $5. Rhythm Make it Count can be yours for a mere $20 until September 10th . It’s a price tag that’s hard to resist and will offer endless hours of fun for you and your students.


Hear what fellow teachers are saying:

I think the best part of this resource is that you’ve given teachers a step by step guide of how to implement. You even give them the lesson plan for what to do on the first day. Brilliant! That will build confidence in teachers and get them and their students off to an exciting start. -Marie

With 130 off-bench activities plus 24 games and activities and 27 bonus activities, teachers will know exactly what apps and activities they to need to get their students’ eyes, ears, brains and bodies trained to rhythm! -Heather

Ad1What’s to come?

Stay tuned for two exciting things!

1) The developers of SproutBeat (their worksheets are featured repeatedly in Round One and Two assignment grids) have graciously agreed to create a special folder of all the worksheets in their app.

2) Join me for a Google Hangout in September or watch the free recording of it afterwards where I’ll show specifics on how to use the apps.

One more thing

Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about connecting successfully with those who warm your bench–especially those who may squiggle and wiggle a little too much. That’s why I like having apps and paper plates up my sleeve! Wendy Stevens just released a new workshop called “Have you Forgotten What It’s Like to be a Child?” Find out how you can register for it here.

FullSizeRender 3

Events, opinions and resources definitely worth your consideration


If you are part of Tim Topham’s Inner Circle, take advantage of your membership and join the Youve-Found-Your-Tribenext Mastermind event.  I’ll be there and am looking forward to chatting about creativity and apps. It’s scheduled for this Saturday at 8-9am Melbourne time which makes it Friday at 4pm my time (Mountain Time.) Here’s a link to figure out what time it will be for you!

If you want more details on Tim’s Inner Circle, here’s my past post that includes my Google Hangout with Tim. It also features information on the benefits of the Inner Circle and how to sign up. Or, just sign up here, right now, and you’ll be set for Friday afternoon.

Reminder: Bring your iPad to the Mastermind and come with questions. Will I see you there?


Speaking of the iPads and apps, I can’t wait to release a new product in my Piano Teacher Planning Center called Rhythm: Make it Count. Here are the details…

Why this resource, now?

So, you’ve dipped your studio toe into technology? Perhaps you’ve even added Off Bench time knowing that having extra time to reinforce your instruction is worth the effort. But you’re still Rhythm Make it Count Facebook (1)wondering: “Now what?”

Here’s my first attempt to bring you an official, organized and I believe efficient answer to that nagging question.

What is it?

The downloadable PDF, Rhythm: Make it Count, is a compilation of iPad app assignments and off bench activities and games exclusively related to rhythm. I chose and isolated rhythm first (yes, there will be more of these theme-related resources to come!) because if rhythm is understood, then improvisation, reading, ensemble playing and all things related to music falls into place IN time and at the RIGHT time!

The easy-to-use resource includes:

  • Reproducible Level 1 weekly student assignment sheet (quarter – whole notes, 3/4 and 4/4 time.)
  • Reproducible Level 2 weekly assignment sheet (dotted quarter, 16ths and syncopation.)
  • A Get Inspired! Episode dedicated to performances highlighting rhythm in unique ways with a reproducible list of guided questions.
  • Additional innovative ideas for Off Bench activities and suggested games to use in private lessons, Off Bench time or group lessons.
  • Printable large icons of apps to hang in your studio to ease the assigning process.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to easily implement the plan in your studio.

How is it of value to you?

It will save you oodles of time and anxiety. A plan will be in place for your students on and off the bench that will offer reinforcement and engaging student activities. I know this because Amy Watt, friend and rookie Off-Bench teacher is helping me design this.

Stay tuned, it will be released soon…


Still not sure about adding technology or how to incorporate creativity into your teaching? Then consider working with me. Now’s the time for last minute advice and strategies! Learn more here. Here’s what Kelly Koch (her studio is featured in the photo above) stated after our FaceTime consultation:

Leila offers a Studio Consultation, but really it’s so much more!  We received a online-730x730consultation for our Lab/Lesson format, which was a little outdated.  Our students were stale on our lab and we asked Leila for ways to improve it.  Not only did she give us SO many ideas, she helped us after the consult (many times) on our purchase of iPads, apps and accessories.  She is my silent partner in the studio!  It was an excellent investment for Minds On Music and we know it will pay dividends for us this fall!


Looking for some fresh teaching repertoire and tips on how to introduce new music to your students? You can get both by joining the Composer Community Discussion Group. Recently, they added a Thursday’s Teaching Tip to their conversation threads. Here’s fellow blogger and co-author of Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers Heather Nanney’s teaching tip video that she produced to go along with her “flashy solo” for beginners. She packs the video full of excellent suggestions!


Bradley Sowash held a free online group class. Yes, you heard me right, a group class online. He guided us through creating a gospel style improvisation of “Amazing Grace.” A number of us were involved in the class and were called upon to play (if we wanted to!) Other viewers could just sit back and listen and learn.

I can’t tell you how much fun I had after the lesson. I’ll I wanted to do was practice but work got in the way. Below is my creative effort following Bradley’s tips. If you can’t view the video click here.

If you are interested in developing your improvisation skills, if you’ve always wanted to but didn’t think you could, then I can’t recommend Bradley’s instruction enough. Yes, I do work with the guy so I might be partial but, this online group lesson venture is his thing. I’ll be there learning right along with you all. Sign up here.


Many have asked if I will continue using Piano Maestro and if so, which payment plan will I choose? Last evening I signed up for the Studio + Home option. You can learn more about all the options here.

The app is no longer free for verified teachers and their students. It came as a surprise to mepm and to many other teachers who were spoiled with the free access. I paid for the annual plan for this year and then will determine if my students use it enough to justify the cost for next year.

For so many reasons, I find this app extremely valuable to my Off Bench time as do my students. I don’t believe the students take advantage of it at home as I would have liked. This year I’ll push more home use of PM and see if it’s worth the price tag.

The lesson for all of us: FREE is not always best. In hindsight, JoyTunes should have charged us a long time ago for their extremely valuable tool. The announcement of the new fee structure was poorly timed. Us teachers became addicted to it and now that it’s not free, the adjustment is that much harder.

It’s a reminder, though, that good things are worth paying for.


Some good things are also free! Check out my freebies at the Piano Teacher Planning Center. The newest is a letter to parents about using the iPad in piano lessons.


A letter to parents about using the iPad in piano lessons.