Getting Parents Ready for Piano Season

When your piano parents think about the upcoming piano season will they be seeing themselves dragging their kid to and from lessons and battling at home over practice OR will they be laughing out loud as they recall the fun THEY had at your

Piano Parent Social?

Hosting a Piano Parent Social can breathe new energy into your studio and it is as simple as adding a little fun to your informational meeting.

Here are 6 ingredients for a great

Piano Parent Social:

1. Sneak Peak Video – Using an app like iMovie, create a short movie trailer showing what will be happening in your studio this year.

2. Info Packets – Prepare a folder for each family that includes studio policies, studio calendar, media release forms,  and rate/payment info. Also include any other info you would like parents to know.  At the start of the social, briefly cover the main points and answer any questions.

3. Sign Up Sheet – Have a printed copy of your teaching schedule ready for parents to reserve their child’s lesson time.  As they reserve their times have them pay lesson fees.

4. Fun Group Game – A game like Taboo provides lots of interaction and fun. You can also pre-select cards with a music theme.

5. Prizes – Have prizes for each member of the winning team.

6. Pictures – Be sure to take pictures and share them with parents in a follow-up email afterwards or display in your studio

Now you and your piano parents will be ready for the upcoming piano season!

 

A Piano Project Kids Love!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might already know that I love doing recording projects with my piano students every year. For the past several years we have done CD’s. The first year we did a studio wide compilation CD then we moved to making individual CD’s for each child. The CD’s were a hit with parents and kids, but this year I decided to try something a little different. This year we recorded and placed the recordings inside stuffed animals at Build A Bear Workshop! Every time they squeeze their stuffed animal they get to hear themselves playing the piano!

Build A Bear Piano

How cool is that? Way cool! Even the staff at Build A Bear was impressed with these kids!

 

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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Most Interesting Ways To Play The Piano

 


This morning while reading Tim Topham’s post on The Most Unusual Places To Record Piano I was reminded of Brian Culbertson playing the piano backwards at a recent concert I attended. It was one of those moments you replay constantly in your mind. Fortunately I was able to find this video on YouTube. It has created some great discussions with my students about the importance of knowing your way around the keyboard and about entertaining your audience with your performance.

 

 

Let Them Have The Spotlight

Violin

When my son signed up for orchestra at his school a couple of years ago I learned a valuable lesson as a parent. It is a lesson that I believe that piano playing parents who have enrolled their children in piano lessons can benefit from as well. So here it is…

Violin was my son’s instrument of choice that year. He was very excited when we got home from the music store with his brand new violin. I was excited too! I had never played a violin before, but knowing that music is in the musician and not in the instrument, I decided to try playing a simple tune on it. Before my son could get in the house good, I was playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on his violin. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect technique wise, but it was recognizable. I was proud of myself for being able to demonstrate that an instrument is merely a tool in a musician’s hands much like a pen is a tool in a writer’s hands. It doesn’t matter what kind of pen the writer uses – he can still write with it. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for my musical genius (lol), I looked up to find that my son was less than impressed. In fact, he was upset.

Why was he upset, you may ask? The violin was supposed to be HIS thing, not MY thing! He wanted to impress me with his ability to play the violin and to show me that he could do something that I could not. He didn’t say this to me, but I realized it just from looking at his response. From that moment on, I did not pick up his violin  – at least not when he was home! He went on to qualify for the Honor’s Orchestra by the end of the school year and I went on being grateful that I have a healthy, happy son who is able to enjoy music all on his own!

So, what am I saying to piano playing parents? Let your children take the lead when it comes to whether or not you should play the piano with or for them. Resist the urge to show them that you can play the rest of the song that they just started learning. Give them the joy of inviting you to the piano to play along or sing along, or just listen! They will be much more cooperative because they can own their musical education. Once they feel that sense of ownership, they will be glad to share in many musical experiences with you!

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.

 

Father’s Day Music Memories

This is a picture of my Dad and me on my wedding day 17 years ago today! As I think about him on this Father’s Day a very happy memory of how he supported my music learning when I was a child comes to my mind. Although I did not live with him as a child, my Dad made sure that I had a piano at his house so I could practice when I came to visit. I was so happy when he bought that piano and I played it all the time when I was there. Today, it occurs to me just how special that was for him to buy a brand new piano just for me to use one weekend out of a month. When I consider that many of today’s parents hesitate to even buy their child a $100 keyboard when taking lessons –  let alone a piano, I am deeply humbled. My Dad must have seen something musical in me even then. I am so thankful for this gift he gave me and I hope he feels good knowing that because he supported my music learning each and every one of the families that I work with is benefitting from it.

If you have parents in your studio or prospective parents who question whether or not to make the investment in a good quality piano because they are not sure if they will stick with it, share my story with them or a similar story of your own and hopefully they will want to be a hero just like my Dad is.