Keeping Piano Students Excited: Piano World Records

World

After the excitement of Holiday concerts what can a piano teacher do to keep up the enthusiasm? Well, for the last two weeks I have been presenting the idea of setting world records in piano to my students! Kids LOVE seeing who is the fastest at something or who can do something the longest. And who wouldn’t want the title of World’s Greatest?! Piano offers endless possibilities for this type of goal from scales (ascending and descending) to age (youngest, only 8 year old to ever, etc).

One thing you want to be intentional about is helping students set goals. I explained to students that we have to train like an athlete to break a world record. For younger kids it is also helpful to set a short time frame. For example – the most songs learned in 1 week. You can even expand the contest to have Studio Records. These will be easier for students to conquer and just might spur them on to beating one of the world records like this one:

Fastest descending chromatic world record.

I will confess that when I tried to do the fastest descending chromatic scale it took me twice as long as the world record! So, I will be training right alongside my students this semester. We will be sure to post our results and pics of all the fun we had!

In the meantime, I’d like to extend the invitation for YOU to join us in trying to set or break a piano world record. You can get all the information by visiting Recordsetter.com

Stay tuned tomorrow for more inspiration on how to use Piano World Records to boost learning in your studio.

 

10 Surprising Ways Piano Lessons Literally Pay Off

Piano Pays Off

Parents all over the United States are spending countless hours driving their kids to and from sports activities and in many cases juggling football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and soccer all at once. These dutiful parents are working hard to insure that their children have the brightest futures possible. Many dedicate endless hours and make quite a financial investment in hopes that their child will qualify for and earn an athletic scholarship to college. They schedule their lives around their child’s sport. They even ask others to schedule their lives around it as well. When the coach calls an unplanned practice or when a game is rescheduled, they ask music teachers and tutors to make accommodations. Maybe YOU are one of these parents. As the parent of a high schooler that is involved in 2 sports I can totally relate. It’s not easy being a parent and certainly not cheap! That is why I want to give you some information that you may not have considered or been aware of when it comes to the real VALUE of an activity that is often not perceived to be as valuable as sports – PIANO.

I am about to tell you from personal experience that YOUR CHILD can earn money with music even while he/she is learning to play the piano. I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old. I started making money with music when I was 12 years old. Here is a list of 10 ways your child can do the same thing.

1. Get paid to play at parties and weddings

2. Play or sing in a band with REAL music professionals

3. Get paid to play for a church choir or children’s choir (Churches are ALWAYS looking for good musicians)

4. Write songs for YouTube video backgrounds

5. Teach music at a summer camp

6. Teach music at VBS

7. Enter contests (Some contests pay thousands of dollars)

8. Apply for music scholarships

9. Earn a 4 year scholarship to study music in college (Did you know that athletic scholarships are only guaranteed 1 year at a time? On the other hand, true 4-year scholarships are available for Music!)

10. Provide rehearsal accompaniment for musical theater

This is just a sample of how Piano Lessons Literally Pay Off. I am in no way saying or suggesting that your child will get rich by taking piano lessons. I am saying that there is more value to piano lessons than many realize.

Feel free to leave a comment, especially if there are other ways you are aware of that piano lessons literally pay off.

DIY Music Theory Manipulatives!

I found this bucket of dominoes on a recent trip to Tuesday Morning for around $5! If your local store doesn’t have it you can get it on Amazon.com for $14.99. The bucket comes with 250 blank dominoes in 5 different colors. I am using the dominoes to help piano students learn to spell scales and build chords.

Using a sharpie, I wrote the letters of the music alphabet on individual dominoes. Then I drew sharps and flats on the dominoes as well. You will notice that I chose to use orange for all the sharps and blue for all the flats. There are more than enough dominoes to make a complete set of each of the 12 major scales without even using all of them. I ended up having a whole set of red dominoes left over to use for something else. I might use one side for numbers 1-7 and the other side for Roman Numerals to help students learn the scale degrees.

It took me about an hour to draw all the letter names and symbols, so if you’ve got an hour to spare now for this project it could save you several hours in the future because you can surely use this for teaching lots of theory concepts. An added bonus is that it is self – containing. The bucket easily stores all the pieces in one place!

How Do You Get Piano Students To Sing or Even Hum?

 

When it comes to music I am a firm believer that if you can sing it, you can play it. As a singer, I am completely baffled by the fact that students attempt to learn how to play the piano without being able to sing or even hum the tune they wish to play. Equally disturbing to me is the number of students who will sing the tune, but consistently do it without regard to the correct pitch. I’ve seen this over and over again in piano lessons. When I ask a student to sing the melody of the song they are learning, they look at me with a blank stare as if to say, “You can’t be serious”. Then when they realize that I am serious, they simply ignore the request as they continue to struggle through the tune. Try as I might to convince students that I am not asking for a polished professional, melodious sound they still cringe at the thought of hearing their own voice. I’m wondering what other teachers do about this. So, the floor is now open for suggestions!

 

Wisdom From J.R. Ewing of the TV Series, Dallas

 

“Never pass up a good chance to shut up.”

 

Those are the words I heard J.R. Ewing say as I watched the TV series Dallas a few days ago in an episode from this past season. You just never know when you are going to hear a bit of wisdom like that! It was such an unexpected comment – he was speaking to his son about business negotiations – that I had to rewind it just to hear it again!

Of course I relate most things to music, music teaching, and/or parenting. I think the statement applies to all three, actually. Great musicians know that there is much beauty in well placed silence. Great music teachers know that deliberate moments of silence allow students time to understand more deeply, to explore, and to create. These same moments of silence are what give life to music and allow the notes to breathe. Great parents know that when we are silent we can hear our children speak – not merely by their words, but by their actions and by the way they respond to various situations.

So, kudos to the writer or writers responsible for this magnificent line! And now here is my chance to shut up.

 

Printable List of Music Apps

Have you ever wished you had a list of apps you’d like parents to buy for their kids to use in between lessons? Well I do this at least once a week – especially with my beginning students. So, I made a list that you can print here. I have personally used each of these apps in my studio and these are ones that my students enjoy. All of them are available in the itunes store and work for iPad, iPhone, and iPod. A few of them are specifically geared towards preschoolers, but most of them can be used and enjoyed by students of all ages. If anybody has a list of Android music apps, please share!

Capture Students’ Attention BEFORE They Enter The Door

 

Imagine your student walking towards your studio, music bag in hand. She may be thinking about the super hard test she had at school today or the mountain of homework that is waiting for her to do after the piano lesson. All this can be very distracting and maybe a bit discouraging until… she makes it to your studio door and sees a welcome sign with her name on it just as she is about to enter! You can predict what will happen next – a big smile will appear on her face and she will enter the studio that much more excited about her lesson. Pictured above is the sign I put up for my students everyday during the first week of piano for the new school year. Each day I simply replaced the previous day’s names with the students for that day. OK – truth – I had my daughter do it for me!  It was definitely a hit with students and parents as well. An added benefit to this sign was having all the students for the day listed. Seeing other kids’ names lets students know that they are not the only ones taking piano lessons and that they are part of a music making community. For more about building community in your studio, see my post on how to Get Parents Geared Up For A New Piano Season.