Music Video Reveals The Power of The Piano Lesson!

As a music teacher you know the power of lessons to completely change a student’s mood from blah to YAY! How many times has a student showed up to the lesson so stressed out that your original lesson plan didn’t stand a chance? 

 I am so excited to announce that my student Mary Rene Quarles just released her first music video and it addresses this very issue! Mary Rene is 13 years old and has been studying voice with me since she was 9 years old. This year she released her first single, Monday Is Coming, which she co-wrote with myself and Grammy Winning Songwriter Jayne Olderman. Since then Mary Rene has started piano with me because she wants to be able to accompany herself while singing. Her story is a perfect example of how music lessons can benefit a kid! It’s also an example of out of the box ways teachers can deepen their student’s learning.

Monday is Coming is a celebration of the weekend and in this music video it shows us how music can change our whole outlook! You should definitely set your Friday morning alarm to this song. Check out the video AND just to FUN things up a bit, answer this trivia question for a chance to win a FREE DOWNLOAD of Monday Is Coming.

How many times do we see Mary Rene at the Skating Rink in the Monday Is Coming music video?

Comment with your answer and I’ll enter you into a random drawing for the Free Download! 3 Winners will be chosen and announced on Friday October 13th!

Fun Sized Concert Series: Mary Rene Quarles

As part of the inaugural Fun Sized Concert Series of Dana Rice Music Studio, Vocal Student Mary Rene Quarles sings the original song “Save Me Again” by Dana Rice and gives the first LIVE ACOUSTIC performance of Dana Rice’s new single “Monday Is Coming” which was written by Dana Rice, Mary Rene Quarles, and Jayne Olderman. Be sure to watch till the end for Mary Rene’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

We’d love to get your feedback on the songs too so please leave a comment if the songs move you!

One more thing… You can download your own copy of  “Monday Is Coming” here!

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!

 

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Teaching Tweens and Teens

Supply and Demand 101: Music Teacher’s Edition

Teaching, Performing, Or Both?

My New Song and Free Sheet Music!

Happy Monday to all my readers! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. Sharing piano teaching ideas and thoughts with you and learning from you through your comments on Kids and Keys and your posts on your blogs enriches and energizes my teaching.  Today, though,  I am sharing a different side of me – the songwriter. My song, “Dance of Life” is entered in Guitar Center’s Singer/Songwriter Contest and I need your support! The contest runs from now through November 3rd.

“Dance of Life” is a song about the fantastic feelings of hope that love brings which makes it  perfect for weddings, and even wedding proposals. It is a song for anniversaries and reminiscing, a song for celebrating love.

Please watch the video and share it on your social networking sites by clicking the share button.

And just for being so awesome you can download the sheet music for Dance Of Life for FREE!

Thank you

How To Rescue Your Piano Lesson When Students and Parents Arrive Upset

Oh No!

Has this ever happened to you? It’s 3pm and you’re ready to wow your student with the fantastic piano lesson you have carefully planned. You can just imagine the joy on her face when you announce the special song that she will be learning today. You hear a knock on the door, open it and your student walks in with a frown on her face. She won’t speak to you, and when you look at her mom walk in she has a frown on her face too! The mom informs you that the child got in trouble at school and it is clear that the child is guilty as charged.

 At times like this it may seem that there is no hope for redirecting this family so that you can have a great lesson, but the piano teaching genius in you knows better! Now is the time to abandon whatever plans you had prior to the student’s arrival and pay attention to this emergency situation. (Yes, it is an emergency! ) It is up to YOU to turn this situation around for everybody involved.

The guiding principle you will use in this situation is one that was shared recently on the South Florida Orff Blog about how to be a 21st century teacher:

Make it (your lesson) REAL LIFE relevant!

With that said, here are 6 steps you can take to rescue your lesson:

1. Make them laugh!  Your number one goal is to first make everybody in the room laugh as quickly as possible. This will break down any barriers and help them refocus. You could say in a horrified voice something like, “What you just told me makes me hear this music…” (That’s when you go to the piano and play the famous notes of Beethoven’s 5th)

2. Offer a Solution – Your new goal is to get the student to stop worrying about the problem and focus on what she can do to have a successful lesson. You can suggest that the two of you write a song about the situation.

3. Invite The Student To The Piano – You will need to help everybody remember why they came – it’s a piano lesson!

4. Ask questions – Should the song have a happy sound or a sad sound? What kind of scale can we use to make that sound? What words do we need to say in the song?

5. Write It Down – Help your student write out the new song complete with a title. You can take the time to explain some theory concepts like treble clef, bass clef, how to notate melodic and harmonic sounds. Keep it simple and easy though. Even allow the student to just write out the note names.

I Am Sorry Song

6. Take A Picture  – Empower your student to have a better day at school the following day by taking a picture of her holding the “sheet music” for the new song. Tell her that she can print the picture and give it to her teacher the next day. Employ humor once again by allowing her to use fun facial expressions to show how sorry she is about what happened.  Let her choose which picture really shows how she feels.

Can you remember a time when your student and parent showed up to the lesson upset about school? Tell us about it in a comment below!

Discover New Music: An Interview With ClassPiano.com Founder

Regan Starr, Founder of classpiano.com

Welcome to the very first Artist Interview on Kids & Keys! Today we are “talking” with Regan Starr, the founder of a cutting edge blog in music education called ClassPiano.com. I have been following Regan’s blog for several months now and recently introduced some of my students to the music on his site. The response from the students has been amazing! They were immediately inspired and wanted to explore more of his songs and to learn more about who he is as a musician. Isn’t that every music teacher’s dream – to have their students excited and inspired about music? Of course it is! That’s why I asked Regan for this interview. I am honored that he agreed to share with the Kids & Keys readers. Enjoy!

First let me introduce Regan to you through my students’ top pick from his song catalogue so far:


Dana: “What is http://www.classpiano.com and how did you come up with the idea for this kind of website?”

Regan: ClassPiano.com is my music composition blog. Every week I write new piano songs and share the sheet music for free. The idea for ClassPiano has evolved over time. I was initially looking for a way to help others, and also wanted to have a creative musical outlet. I had never heard of a blogger who writes piano music and it sounded like a unique opportunity.”

Dana: “What are some ways that private instructors can utilize your website in their teaching to supplement lessons?”
Regan: “When instructors visit classpiano.com, they can listen to and download all of my piano sheet music for free. I currently have about 100 original songs on the site. Students can use these songs to add some variety to their weekly practice schedule. It also gives students and teachers something to look forward to because I’m always posting new music.
Dana: “That’s great, Regan. I’d like to add that as a piano teacher I find many of your songs like the one in the video above useful for helping students better understand music theory concepts and patterns as well. For instance I used the song above to illustrate how songs are built using the circle of fifths and how awareness of this pattern can help aid memorization.
Dana: How do you write and post songs every week?”
Regan: “One of my favorite tools for composing is my iPhone. You never know when you will think of a great melody or chord progression. Whenever I have a new musical idea, I immediately capture it using a recording app. So when it’s time to sit down and write a new song, I have a long list of ideas to use as a starting point.”
Dana: “What does the future hold for ClassPiano?”

Regan: “I will continue to write new piano songs and develop my skills as a composer. I also want to spread the word about ClassPiano using social media and word-of-mouth. Eventually, I would love to have millions of people around the world visitingclasspiano.com to learn how to play my latest songs.”

Well, that wraps up our first Artist Interview! Thanks, Regan. We look forward to hearing more original music from you. Kids & Keys readers can contact Regan Starr through his blog at www.classpiano.com.

Musical Mother’s Day Gifts

Here are some of the gifts my students gave their moms for Mother’s Day:

 Using a composing activity by Susan Paradis, Caroline wrote a song for her mom. I took a picture of her while she was composing. Then I laminated her song and mailed the song and the picture to her mom.

   Jordan made a video of herself playing her mom’s favorite songs. In the video she also tells her mom just how long it took her to get the song right! I’m guessing she wanted to make sure her mom knew just how much of herself she put into this gift!

4 year old Mia wrote a song for her mom using the notes in the 2 black key group. Mia sang and played the song for her mom. I wrote down the notes she played, then printed them along with the words she made up on pretty stationery. We laminated it and gave it to her mom at the end of her piano lesson.  She also recorded the song as part of her CD recording project. 

 Madison wrote a song for her mom using my songwriting game and  composing tools from KinderBach. Again, we laminated it and Madison kept it as a surprise to present to her mom on Mother’s Day.

What’s the best musical Mother’s Day gift you ever received from your kid? Share it in a comment below!