My Favorite Piano Teaching Ideas From Pinterest

Welcome to the Piano Geek Week edition of The FAME School Blog! If you haven’t heard about or signed up for Andrea and Trevor Dow’s Piano Geek Week, be sure to check it out! But, first look below for some fantastic piano teaching finds from Pinterest.

Did you know that The FAME School is on Pinterest? It only takes a few seconds on pinterest to get your creative juices flowing. Here are some of my favorite piano teaching ideas from the visual social networking site. Click the picture links to view the pins.

Music Notation Made Easy

wikipedia notation

Noodle Notes for Composing

noodle notes

Teach Piano From The Parking Lot

driveway piano

Where’s The Bear – Convert to Note Recognition Game

where's the bear

There are many more very cool teaching ideas on my pinterest site. Everything is conveniently organized and categorized so that you can quickly find something that interests you. There are boards for piano teaching,  preschool music, songwriting for kids, music class and more!

A word of caution: Pinterest can be VERY addicting!!!

Now, for more inspiration visit the Piano Geek Week Site!

Free Printable: Personalized Piano Concert Invitations

Personalized Music Invite

Since performance season is here, I am posting a new printable today that you can email to parents who want to invite school teachers and friends to your student’s piano performance.  Family and friends are regulars at piano recitals and concerts, but expanding your audience by inviting members of the community is a great way to showcase your students to more people and to get the word out about your studio and what you have to offer as a music teacher. Get the FREE Printable by clicking here or on the above graphic.

Even if you already have printed postcards and flyers this can still be a great way to invite people who may not normally attend your show. It can also serve as an extra invite once your run out of your printed materials. Simply replace my content with the details for your event. Email to the parents in your studio and have them type in their child’s school name and their child’s name in the appropriate spaces on the printable word document. Now they have personalized invitations for their child!

Parents can choose to simply email the invitation or print copies and deliver to school friends, teachers, and administrators. Be sure to tell parents to invite their child’s school music teacher!

For more about how to put on a great piano event click here.

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7 Ways To Make Piano Recitals More Interesting

Piano Concert moment

Unfortunately, many people have negative memories centered around piano recitals. This can make it difficult to persuade Uncle Joe to come to hear little Susie play her piano piece at the annual recital. It can also make it hard to persuade little Susie’s mom and dad to stay for the entire recital. Even the fear of future negative memories centered around piano recitals can make it almost impossible to get little Susie to agree to play in the piano recital. So, what’s a piano teacher to do?

Here are 7 ways to make sure Uncle Joe, Susie, her mom, and her dad not only attend the recital, but thoroughly enjoy it as well!

1. Give your recital a “cool” upgrade and call it a CONCERT instead.

Let’s face it – most people associate the word recital with boredom. How many people do you know who are telling their friends they can’t wait for the next recital? On the other hand, how many people are proud to announce that they have tickets to see their favorite artist in concert? I’m just saying…

2. Allow students to play more than one song and put one song at the beginning of the concert and the other later in the program.

This will work especially well if the pieces your students play are short. Be sure to keep concerts no longer than about 90 minutes at the most.

3. Highlight other talents your students have.

If you have a student who loves to sing, have her sing while playing.

4. Encourage students to collaborate.

Have one student play the piano while another student sings.

5. Promote interaction with the audience.

In the picture above, a student and I get the audience to chant the main phrase of the song we had just performed as a duet.

6. Invite other artists to be special guests at your concert.

Dancers, singers, poets, and instrumentalists who play something other than the piano are good choices. It gives the audience a break from piano music, gives you time to get kids ready for whatever comes next, and exposes your students to the other performing arts.

7. Consider having parents and students collaborate.

You may have parents who sing, act, dance, etc. Ask them to accompany one of your students as they play the piano. This works really well when you pair parents up with kids other than their own.

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Non-Traditional Performance Opportunities

One of my goals in teaching piano is to help my students integrate music making with everyday life. When students realize that they can play their instrument for more than just an annual recital or formal concert, lessons become more meaningful. More meaningful lessons means more dedicated students!

As music educators we realize that music is everywhere. Our students, however, may not be consciously aware of this fact. It is up to us to help them notice music that is in their everyday lives. One way we can do this is to seek out non-traditional performance opportunities for our students. One of the best ways to do this is to consider the other activities in which the students participate. For instance, I have several piano students who are also studying dance. Dance classes are perfect performance opportunities for piano players! Who says dancers have to use pre-recorded music?

The picture above shows one of my students (in this instance, my daughter) accompanying at a dance class. This was a great opportunity to gain experience working with other kids in the arts. The fact that the dancers were friends of hers was also very encouraging and it made it seem more like “play” than performance or practice. (Isn’t that what music making should be?)

From a piano pedagogy standpoint, the piano student who accompanies dance classes can gain a deeper understanding of rhythm and the need to keep a steady beat. Watching and being aware of the dancers’ movements also helps the student feel the pulse of the music. What about helping with expression? Yes, of course! Having someone dance to the music as a student plays can help the student play more expressively and improves phrasing. These things are possible because suddenly the music has a purpose beyond the physical acts involved in playing the instrument.

An added bonus for this non-traditional performance opportunity is the student’s interaction with the dance instructor. In this type of situation the student must be able to receive direction from a teacher other than the piano teacher. This is so important for helping the student broaden his or her idea of what it means to take piano lessons. Sometimes students place their lessons in a box where they only use their skills for their piano teacher. Playing for a teacher in a different area of the arts forces the student to become the expert concerning the music they are playing. They must use the knowledge that they have about their instrument and apply to what the dance teacher is asking them to do. This translates into higher levels of confidence which of course makes better performances possible.

Finally, an added benefit of this non-traditional performance opportunity was that some of the dancers became interested in playing the piano!

If you teach music or have a child who takes dance classes, I would highly recommend you speak with a dance teacher in your area about the possibility of your students accompanying for the dance class. Accompanying for the warm up section of the dance class can be a great way to start.

What are some other non-traditional performance opportunities that you offer your students?

Piano Photo Contest Entries: You Decide!

To celebrate completing the first month of piano lessons for this school year, I held a piano photo contest for students and families in the studio. Below you can see all the entries. Please vote for your favorite picture. The owner of the winning picture will receive a $10 Amazon gift card!

Our First Piano Graduation of the School Year

Yesterday I had my first student of this school year to graduate from her piano level. She just completed Faber’s My First Piano Adventures Level A! To celebrate the momentous occasion I taped the FINISH LINE pictured above from the piano to the wall. When she finished the last piece and a set of review questions, the student got to run across the finish line!   Of course that was very exciting for her and I must admit it was for me too! Now to really make sure that she understood just how big of an accomplishment completing her piano level was, I presented her with some gifts as well. She received a My First Piano Adventures Level A Christmas Book, A gift wrapped Wind Chime, and a bag of goodies! To top it all off and to create excitement among my other students and parents, I will be sending out a group e-mail to share the news with everyone. How do you celebrate piano graduations in your studio? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment if you’d like!