How To Use Facebook Live For Your Student Recital

Morgan Shaginaw-8

Every private music teacher knows the nightmares involved in SCHEDULING performances! When it comes to showcasing your students you’re competing with school events, family events, religious events, weather and a dozen other things. This is especially true for me during the spring with sports events and graduations. So after watching a few of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts I came up with a spin off version of that for my students called Fun Sized Concerts. Students and parents are LOVING it. So, I wanted to share the idea with you in case you’re looking for new ways to put smiles on the faces of your students and parents. I’ll show you step by step how to do it!

The venue for your Fun Sized Concert will be your Facebook page as you will be doing the concert via Facebook Live. There are tons of tutorials on how to do a facebook live – just search on youtube or google, or use facebook help.

Morgan Shaginaw-3

For our Fun Sized Concerts I scheduled each student during their regular lesson time. This takes the stress out of scheduling! They are available and their parents are too. Have students arrive at their regular time and take about 10-15 minutes to practice prior to going live. Students were also able to invite friends and family to come to the studio to see the concert in person.

Create a Facebook Event Page for your fun sized concert to announce and invite others.

I had a student create the logo for the Fun Sized Concert – you are welcome to use mine or create your own. To use mine, just drag it to your desktop.

Be sure to share your event several times on your facebook page to let people know about it. Also be sure to let people know they have to go to your facebook page to see the Fun Sized Concert at the scheduled time. They will NOT be able to see it from the event page!

To make the Fun Sized Concert even more special for students and families add some balloons or other decorations/signage to your studio for the day. Be sure that these are visible in the recording when you’re on Facebook Live.

You will need to ask someone else to hold your device to record or use a tripod.

Take a few pictures during the event as well.

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Finally either during or after the Fun Sized Concert you can present a gift bag full of Fun Sized Treats/Snacks to your student to congratulate them.

Once finished with the concert be sure to post the replay to your facebook page.

After the Fun Sized Concert be sure to respond to comments on your facebook page. You can also go back into your event page and add the pictures that you took during the concert or post them in a comment below the Facebook Live video.

If you decide to do Fun Sized Concerts with your students I’d love to see them! Tag DanaRiceMusic in your post and I will watch!

 

 

 

Get Out Of The Piano Box This Summer!

Piano Teachers!! It’s time to think outside the piano box! Summer is fast approaching and as we all know LOTS of students and parents consider summer time vacation time from lessons. Instead of writing about how to avoid that here, I am going to write about what you as a piano teacher can do to keep yourself working over the summer AND get yourself refreshed for your fall piano lessons.

For the past 6 years I have had the honor of teaching at the Northeast Georgia Summer Guitar Camp. No, I do not play the guitar! I can, however, produced some nice melodies on the guitar – not because I have ever had a guitar lesson – I haven’t, but because I am a musician! Musical instruments are just like pens and pencils. If you know how to write, you can use any pencil or pen. If you haven’t ever tried to play an instrument other than piano, you should try it. You might surprise yourself and your students. It is an excellent opportunity to reinforce the need for understanding music theory and knowing how to apply it.

So how can you, as a piano teacher, keep yourself working over the summer outside of piano lessons? Partner with a teacher who teaches an instrument other than piano and offer to teach at their summer camp or even do some master classes with their students. Of course you won’t be teaching their instrument (unless you happen to be proficient at it), but you CAN teach theory concepts and musiciality. At the guitar camp I have taught Rhythm, Performance, and Music Appreciation – The Art Of Listening. The possibilities are really endless!

I have found that the fact that the students are “experts” at guitar and I am not, actually increases their interest in what I am bringing to the table. I allow them to teach me some things they know about guitar – which has the added benefit of reinforcing their knowledge and understanding of their instrument.  Furthermore, because we are not directly working on learning the technical aspects of playing their instrument they are able to deepen their understanding of how music works. They are then able to apply these concepts immediately in their guitar centered classes at the camp.

You might also be pleasantly surprised to meet students who also play the piano! Many kids play multiple instruments and of course piano is often the first instrument they ever learned. Each year we have several students from different piano studios in the guitar camp. While we maintain focus on their guitar learning, I also give them an opportunity to share the piano skills as well. Helping the students make connections between their piano knowledge and their guitar knowledge is an extra bonus for me.

I am pleased to once again be a faculty member for the premier guitar camp in the state of Georgia along with Guitarist Russell Ferrara from Pennsylvania and founder Derwyn Brown of Childbloom Guitar Northeast Georgia. Registration is now open for the sixth annual Summer Guitar Camp to be held at Lanier Islands Community Church in Buford Ga. The camp will run from June 6th through-10th. The camp is open to young guitarists at all levels ages 7 – 13. For camp registration visit our website: www.childbloomgne.com.
Click here or on the video above to view highlights from our 2015 Summer Camp! 

1 Simple Phrase To Help Cure Stage Fright

not judging

The holidays are approaching and that means PERFORMANCES. Lots and lots of performances. Right about now young (and old) piano players around the world are getting nervous about playing in front of others. What’s a piano teacher to do to help? One thing a teacher can do is to help the student view performances from the audience’s perspective. A lot of performers who have stage fright don’t realize that the audience is not judging them at all (unless you’re in a contest of some sort). The lie that stage fright tells the performer is that since all eyes are on him the performance is about him. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Students need to know that the audience is there to RECEIVE the gift of music. The gift of music is many things to the audience. It is a great time, an escape from worries and cares, a chance to be with friends. The audience wants simply to FEEL GOOD. Judging the performer is the least of their concerns. They want the performer to succeed because it means the audience gets to have a good time. Here is another secret: the people in the audience assume that the performance will be great, otherwise they would not be there!

So, take the pressure off your students by letting them know (and most don’t know this) that the audience is not judging them! I will definitely be driving this point home with my students in the next few weeks leading up to our Big Dreams Concert.

Ideas For Your Next Studio Performance

Big Dreams Concert Poster

 

So my studio concert is THIS SUNDAY! That is mainly why it has been so quiet around Kids & Keys lately. I have been deep in concert preparation mode. I decided this morning, though to take a moment to share some of what our concert will look like. Anyone who reads Kids & Keys most likely already knows that I prefer to give concerts than recitals. I believe that when most people hear these two words they see VERY different pictures of both in their minds. Here is what I believe they see:

Recital – Formal. Have To Be Quiet. Long. Only classical music. Itchy clothing. FREE. Boring.

Concert – Fun. Entertaining. Sing Along. Cheer for Performers. Purchase Tickets. Ability to get concert memorabilia afterwards. Wear cool fashions. Lights. 

I did not just make this up. Over the years I have collected responses and reactions from adults who had lessons as kids and these are some of the things they have said about their experiences. When I talk to adults about their idea of concerts this is what they said.

As a piano teacher who is interested in helping my students see the career possibilities in music performance I ask myself what is one thing that gets kids/tweens/teens excited about performing? I understand that not every student or maybe not even most students want to perform music professionally, but for the ones that do and for the ones who haven’t considered it certain questions have to be asked. When kids are learning to play a musical instrument are they envisioning themselves playing in a recital where everyone politely claps at the end of each song but doesn’t get to interact with the artist otherwise? Or do they envision themselves onstage like so many of the young pop stars they see on Disney Channel?

I am sure that my piano teacher friends can certainly weigh in on this! But before you do, please visit www.bigdreamsconcert.com for some ideas I am using in my upcoming studio concert. Afterwards, please come back and weigh in on the discussion.

By the way, if anyone is in the Atlanta, GA area this weekend please come be my special guest at the Big Dreams Concert! Tickets are only $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

10 Helps For The Non-Piano-Playing Parent

Help For Non Piano Parent

Parents who have never learned to play a musical instrument often feel lost when it comes to helping their child practice at home. This is a real concern, but doesn’t have to be! Even if they can’t carry a tune in a bucket, couldn’t play their way out of a paper bag, or don’t even know what a treble clef looks like, PARENTS have the tools necessary to help their children learn how to play music. If you’re a parent reading this right now, you might be thinking “There is no way.” Let me assure you though THERE IS A WAY. Neither of my parents nor my grandparents ever played an instrument and nobody in my family ever played the piano before I did. In fact, for many years we could not even afford a piano. In spite of this (or maybe even because of it) I not only learned how to play but have taught many other people to play as well. Here are 10 things the Non-Piano-Playing Parent can do to speed up their child’s piano learning:

1. Listen To Music Out Loud! – Connect your iPod, cell phone, tablet or mp3 player to a speaker and play music that you enjoy so that EVERYBODY in your house or car hears it. Listen to music in the car, during dinner, while cleaning the house, while getting ready for school. LISTEN TO MUSIC ALL THE TIME!!! Make sure the music you are listening to is music that your child is learning to play AND music that you would like to hear them play. Be sure to include music that highlights piano if your child is studying piano.

2.  Make Practicing Like Brushing Teeth – My friend, Derwyn Brown of Childbloom Guitar always says that parents must insist on practice just like they insist on brushing teeth. You wouldn’t let your child go a day without brushing his/her teeth would you? Of course not! Brushing teeth is an EVERY DAY thing and so is PRACTICING! Insist on Practice!

3. Learn to say the word, “AGAIN” – Listen to your child when he/she is practicing and when they finish tell them to play it AGAIN! If you hear something that doesn’t sound quite right – IT’S PROBABLY NOT RIGHT! You might not be a musician, but you are a music listener and your ears know when something is not right. Tell them to keep working on it until they fix the problem or you can simply say “AGAIN”

4. Use The Teacher’s Words– Take time to read any instructions the teacher has written in your child’s book or notebook and repeat this to your child.

5. Be Nosy – This one will come naturally to some! (I couldn’t resist). Ask your child questions about what he/she is playing. If you see things circled on the book or sheet music, ask your child what it means or why that is circled. It is OK if YOU don’t know the answer! You are trying to get THEM to think about the answer.

6. Brag Out Loud– Let your child hear you bragging about how well they are playing or how diligently they are practicing.

7. Be An On Time Taxi – Take your child to the piano lesson ON TIME. ALWAYS. This lets your child know once again that piano is important. It also gives your child the much needed time with the teacher. If you are 10 minutes late for a 30 minute lesson, your child has just missed 1/3 of the entire lesson! That translates to: slower progress, possible chaos in lesson due to rushing. It creates a frustrated student and a frustrated teacher who both just want to make you proud.

8. Be Consistent – Continuous learning is the difference between students who progress quickly and students who are stagnant or are always playing below expectation. Children who continue lessons throughout the summer when school is out do better. If your child takes off lessons in the summer and does not return to lessons until September your child is losing about 6 months of learning due to the time taken off and the skills lost during the time off.

9. Make Them Pay For Lessons– No, I do not mean that you should have your children pay the teacher for lessons. That is your job, but their job is to provide you with FREE ENTERTAINMENT. Once they have completed several days of practice – AND BEFORE THEIR NEXT LESSON – have your child give you an at home concert. My kids often made “programs” entitled “The 1 Song Concert” or “The 3 Song Concert” depending on the number of songs they knew how to play. Repeat this when visiting friends and relatives. My grandparents (non-musicians) did this EVERY time I went to visit them. It became such a routine that I knew once dinner was over I had to play for them. Eventually I learned to prepare for these impromptu performances!

10. Act Crazy – Yes, I said CRAZY! Crazy is making your kids practice when other kids are playing games. Crazy is insisting on practice even if they are crying. Crazy is not letting them get away with saying they don’t have anything to practice. Crazy is EXPECTING them to do better. Crazy is driving them to a place that has a piano if you don’t have one of your own. Crazy is signing them up for every performance opportunity your teacher offers – even if they say they don’t want to do it. Crazy is signing them up for summer music camps and scheduling your vacations around those camps. Crazy is asking hotel staff if your child can play the hotel piano during your stay there. Crazy is letting your kids know that quitting is not an option and that they must “Play To Stay” (in your house). If they want to quit, they can quit once they move out. Crazy is what works.

I know it because

I. Am. Crazy. But. My. Kids. Know. How. To. Play. The. Piano. 

Student Review and Giveaway of Musical Words Game

Kennedy Habeeb

Welcome Kids and Keys readers to our first student/teacher co-review of a music education product! 10 yr old Kennedy  liked playing the Musical Words board game so much that she wanted to tell other teachers all about it so they could use it with their students.

Musical Words was created by Gail Fischler. If you read The Piano Addict blog, you are familiar with this amazing teacher. Her game is great for not only piano students but students of other instruments as well! The game is highly suitable for group lessons, buy Kennedy and I wanted to find out if it would work in a private lesson.

mus-wds-blog-pic2

Kennedy’s song of choice was Fur Elise. This was perfect since she has the song memorized already and she was able to put all her thoughts on interpreting the piece rather than trying to read notes (which she does well by the way).

Initially I did not fill in any of the blank spots on the game board. My thought process was, “What are the chances she will even land on one of those spots more than once?” Well, what actually happened was that Kennedy landed on a blank spot on EVERY turn. So, we cheated and had her move to one of the pre-marked spots the first 3 times this happened. Finally I had no choice but to think of some words to put in the blank spots! One of the words I came up with was “popcorn”. Kennedy had a terrific time with that one playing the whole thing in staccato! On a different turn she landed on the word “Mysterious”. This was pretty easy for her to do considering her song choice of Fur Elise. (I mean, who really knows who Elise was?) Another memorable moment in the game was when Kennedy landed on the word “comical”. She began to play Fur Elise with a range of different expressions and then added in some nonsensical chords that just didn’t go with the song at all. The result was indeed comical. She laughed and I laughed at her creative genius.

If you decide to play Musical Words with your students (and why wouldn’t you?), there is no need to be afraid of the blank spots. You can just hop over to The Musical Adjectives Project page for ideas or get some ideas from your students.

Here is what Kennedy said when I asked her about the experience:

“I like the choices, but popcorn was my favorite. Do I think other kids would enjoy playing this game? YES! Some words I would suggest are roughly and smoothly“.

Kennedy also said she thought there were too many blanks. I believe that is my fault and the next time I will definitely fill them in!

As a teacher I like the fact that this game pushes the student to COMMUNICATE musical ideas. This is an excellent tool for performance preparation as well as improvisation practice.

Ready to play? There are 2 ways to purchase Musical Words.

1)You have the option to purchase a set that is already laminated and printed with FREE Shipping in the Continental US from Fistful of Notes for $34 or Music Teachers Store. You get:

Laminated Game board with velcro fasteners (2 pcs)
Directions & Tips (2 sheets)
6 card stock game card sheets
1 master card sheet

Free Shipping within Continental US

2) You can purchase a download to print yourself from Music Teacher Store. Studio and family licenses are $14 or you can purchase a school license for $50. (If you choose this option I suggest you take your file to a copy and print center instead of printing at home due to the amount of ink necessary to print it. It uses LOTS of color.)

Gail has agreed to give one lucky winner a FREE download with a single teacher license ($14 value). To enter leave an adjective that you would use to fill in one of the blank spots on the game board in the comments. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

musicalwords

What’s The Unique Ingredient In Your Teaching?

Deja and Dana

 In a world where the words “piano teacher” often conjure up negative images in the minds of potential students and potential piano parents, your special skills and interests can help you stand out.  They inform your way of teaching and are the unique ingredient that draws students and parents to your studio!

I unexpectedly became aware of how I apply my special skills to my piano teaching a few days ago while teaching a student how to play the hit song “Say Something” by A Great Big World. This song is definitely a singer/songwriter’s song which lends itself to the piano’s rich ability to communicate deep emotion – especially when combined with heartfelt lyrics. In the process of teaching this song I discovered something unique and potentially marketable about the way I teach. I teach piano lessons from a singer/songwriter’s point of view!

I found myself using the lyrical idea to help my student understand the chord progression in “Say Something”. Where the lyric is hopeful or anticipating, the chord shape is open. Where the lyric is tentative or afraid, the chord shape is closed. When I reflect a little more, I see that I often use examples like this to help my students focus on delivering the message in the song. I believe that this is natural for me because I am a songwriter. Songwriters carefully craft their lyrics and chords to match each other so that they have a specific effect on the listenerFor me, this is the unique ingredient in my teaching. Students who study with me can expect to develop exceptional performance skills in addition to the basic piano skills that most piano teachers teach.

So, my challenge for you is to observe your teaching style during your lessons TODAY and take note of how you explain things.

  • What analogies do you use?
  • What examples do you offer your students for correcting technical issues?
  • What suggestions do you give them for memorizing phrases and music concepts?
  • Who are you as a musician?
  • What is your favorite part of making music?

The answers to these questions can help you pinpoint the unique ingredient in your teaching that makes YOU stand out in the world of piano teaching!

 

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