How to Make Effective and Efficient Lesson Notes in Google Docs

First, why this post and the video?

They both stem from an idea I shared on page 19 in my resource called A Piano Teachers Planning Kit. Learn more about the kit here. The 35-page resource is a framework to help you design your lessons. The process that I share for generating lesson notes equips you as a teacher to efficiently formulate assignments and effectively communicate them.

The instructions and the instructional video included below give specifics on how to use and modify the lesson note template for use in your studio.

There’s much more included in the planning kit including practice strategies and a clever way to communicate them. This systematic approach equips students with tools that develop strong and intuitive practice habits.

Good news! When you purchase the kit, you get Making Technical Difficulties Easier for free. Get them both here.

A big thank you if you already purchased your kit! Let me know how it’s helping you assemble and develop your lesson plans and student practice habits.

Now…the details on creating lesson notes in Google Docs.

What is Google Docs and where do you find it?

Google Docs is a free, online platform where you can create documents.
Find it here.

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system where you can securely store your files you create in Google Docs and other files. By installing Google Drive on your computer and mobile devices, you can open or edit your files from any device.

To set up Google Drive, follow this link:


I found a template in Google Sheets (which is similar to Excel or Numbers) that I modified and that’s what I use for my lesson notes.

You will find a link to this lesson note template on page 19 in A Piano Teacher’s Planning Kit. You are welcome to copy it, use it and tweak it as you like.

It is best that you watch the video first so you understand these steps below.

1) Make a Copy WARNING! Before you do anything else, MAKE a COPY of my template and then begin to modify the lesson notes to suit your needs.

2) Rename your copy

You might consider naming this your “Template.”

3) Customize your note

Edit the names of columns, the content of each column, and each sheet.

4) Make copies

Generate a copy for each of your students, include the students’ names in the title and make appropriate edits.

5) Organize your notes

Decide how and where you want to store your notes within your Google Drive. Here are some possibilities:

OK: Create one folder for all your studio lessons notes.
Pretty Good: Create a folder with the name of each day students arrive for lessons.
Better: Create a folder for each individual student and place the note and any other future files for that student in his/her folder.
Better Yet: Create a studio folder and within that folder create a folder for each day of the week and within each of those folders, create individual folders for each student.

6) Share

Email a link to student families after you have completed the notes.
Attach the note to an email and send.
Print and give to student.

Download the instructions above by entering the information below.

Here’s to less paper and more effective and efficient lesson notes with the power of Goole Docs!

Extra tip and an invitation

Have you seen the free BEETS I offer in my store? Have you wondered how to use them in your studio? Below is a video showing how I teach time signatures with beets, yes beets as in garden beets. (This is a clip from a Facebook live video so it’s a little more casual than normal.)

You can get your Beets here or start a healthy trend in your studio and get the full Rhythm Produce bundle here.

Speaking of beats and rhythm, join Bradley Sowash and me for our next 88 Creative Keys webinar on Monday, January 22, 2018 and develop pianists who rock their rhythm. And, gain insightful advice when you must offer first aid to those who suffer from rhythm issues that need fixing.

If you can’t join us on Monday at 11:00am EST, no worries, still register and you’ll receive the replay that is available for viewing for one full year!

Register for Rhythm That Rocks here.

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thank you! I have been thinking about doing this specific thing just over the past couple weeks and this really pushed me in a better direction.
    I’ve set my own template up, using the same template you found. The main thing I added was a sheet for Apps & Sites. The columns are What, Where, Why, How. I can give details to any recommended technology tools and cross-reference them within the assignments sheet.

    Question: Do you anticipate using this to allow them to record practice timing or questions? This would require giving editing privileges.

    • Good to hear from like-minded teachers, Ruthie! I thought about offering a chance to record practice time and included it in my Performance grid template but I’m not using that as much as I thought I would. I like your Apps and sites page–great idea! Giving them editing privileges would do no harm but I just don’t think my students would use that option all that much. How about yours?

  • I know you posted this a while ago, so I hope you will still be able to respond to my question. I am hoping to start up this fall with using google docs. I love your example spread sheet. I had a question, though. Do you just keep one assignment sheet going at a time? So the example you posted was for January 12, 2018. What do you do for the next week’s lesson….just type over what you already have saved? Or you do you open up a new “sheet”? I’m so used to looking back at the assignment sheets I’ve written up to see what has been done in the past lessons, I guess I don’t see how that can be done using this way of Google Docs. Looking forward to your response. And thank you for sharing so many wonderful things!

    • Hi, Jane.
      Yes, I type over the old assignment but keep track of rep, etc on another sheet within the same document.
      If you like, you could make a duplicate of your assignment sheet and then create a new one for the new week. That way you could always look back over past assignment. You can only do this in Google Sheets. It’s golden. Hope that helps and thanks for your kind words. -Leila

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