We have all taught (and smiled) through nasty headaches, various aches and pains, and plain old fatigue, but what about when your body just doesn’t seem to cooperate any more and your health is a constant challenge? Below are some ideas I have used personally and also those of other music teachers that I interviewed for this blog. I hope today finds you healthy and strong, but if not, take courage. Teaching can be a time of enrichment and satisfaction in your day.
Be a fun, warm and friendly person to be around. This is not always easy, but it will help others to see you and not your disability or illness.
I really enjoy when I get to review piano music because it means I have to sit down and play the piano, which I love to do! Yes, my piano is in the room directly across from where I do a lot of my work, but for some reason, I rarely make it to the bench, so it’s always nice having something I “have” to play.
Digital sheet music as is currently being sold by several sheet music publishers and vendors is at its core a great idea. Unfortunately, the biggest publishers are all missing the boat and implementing it in a way that provides absolutely no added value for the added costs to the consumer. While the digital versions of books and such add value to the title by offering easy portability and flexibility for the reader this is not the case with most commercially available digital sheet music. But this is only the start of why music publishers are missing the boat and doing both themselves and their customers a disservice. Read on to find out more.
An essential part of learning to play music on an instrument (as opposed to singing!) is having an instrument on which to play. Owning or renting an instrument and having the necessary accessories are important for learning but are not something teachers may be prepared to handle. And yet, without the right equipment it’s hard for a student to get very far. How can the teacher help? What do you do to help your students? (Please add a comment at the end to share your perspective!)
Some teachers might simply accept whatever the student has for equipment. Others direct their students to local or online stores to purchase recommended items. (Read more…)
After getting a good start on our NoteStars challenge, I also assigned every student the Note Categories game.
This game is very simple, but definitely challenging for students. I use one of each letter name scale block and time the student as they go through the set of student music note flashcards, placing each one below the corresponding scale block.
Like the NoteStars challenge, I started by timing the students according to each level, but they all quickly moved into using the whole deck of cards. Unlike NoteStars, students only have to identify the name of the note, so that adds a nice variety while still building an essential understanding of the music staff.
February has been an extremely busy month for my studio. About half of my students participated in various competitions. Some of them did extremely well, some of them did about as good as I expected, some of them didn’t do as well as they could have, and some of them did amazingly well but unfortunately did not get recognized.
Music competitions are not for every student or every teacher. It does take a strong heart! Some students excel under pressure, some don’t. Some students deal with unfavorable results gracefully, some get heart broken. The toughest part is when you as a teacher disagree with the judges. And that happens quite a lot! (Read more…)
3. Apply it
What is the one thing you could do that would best give kids the internal drive to master music theory? Teach them the application.
When kids realize that music theory empowers them to create their own fun songs they’ll want to learn everything they can from you.
Far too often kids study the piano for years and years, but then can’t play a thing if they don’t have a piece of sheet music in front of them. What happens if they get asked to “play something” when they don’t have a piece worked up? They’re embarrassed and find themselves feeling that their lessons have failed them to some degree. (Read more…)
Studying piano can be kind of lonely. Kids practice by themselves. Then they sit in a small room with an “old” teacher who for 30 minutes tells them everything they’re doing wrong. Then they go home and repeat.
One reason why so many kids end up choosing sports over piano is that their friends are there with them. And when friends are together, there’s laughter, camaraderie and the desire to succeed together. (Read more…)
Now that you know the three steps, let’s dive a little deeper into each one and learn some specific action steps you can take to implement these practices in your studio.
Make it fun
When I was a student, learning theory meant doing written assignments out of a workbook at home. I always completed my assignments, but I usually put it off and had to race to quickly fill in my answers right before my lesson started. Theory was boring and I didn’t put a lot of thought into it.
I’ve learned that theory doesn’t have to be boring. And when we make it fun, kids eat it up! (Read more…)
It was a special day when my first two 4 year old students aced the first grade level theory exam. Kids have proven to me time and again that they are capable of doing so much more than we realize.
Those two four year-olds really stretched my creativity as a teacher as I realized that they could go far, but needed to be taught with an approach that capitalized on their fun-loving nature. Now all my students are benefiting from this new approach and learning at an accelerated rate. I’d like to share three tips I’ve learned along the way that help kids become music theory rockstars.
Make it fun
Theory really can be fun, and kids learn so much more when they’re enjoying the experience. Continue reading for ideas and games you can easily fit into your lessons. (Read more…)