Teens (and Tweens for that matter) these days are so into their digital devices that it can be difficult for a parent to have even a brief conversation with them about ANYTHING, let alone piano! So, why not communicate with them through their devices?
Drag these images to your desktop or save to your phone and text one of them to your teen! This will do at least 2 things – 1)make you look cool and 2)make your teen smile – or at least text you back a smiley face emojii! BONUS – it might just get your teen to practice more!
How have you been successful with getting your teen to keep playing piano? Tell me in a comment!
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:
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.
As music teachers we spend hours preparing lessons, music learning games, and performances for our students. After doing an adequate amount of scouring music teaching blogs and piano teaching blogs, and attending student concerts and recitals there is little time left to devote to our own musical development. The interesting thing is that the missing ingredient in most music teachers’ studio marketing plans is consistent performance by the teacher! I will speak specifically as a piano teacher, but what I am saying is true no matter what instrument the teacher teaches. The same thing we tell our students applies to us – in order to get better at playing your instrument, you have to PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT!
I know from my own personal experience how difficult it can be to carve out time to flex your performance muscles when you are a music teacher. I also know that carving this time out is absolutely essential. It is also life-giving! The video about is proof of that.
Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity and challenge to play in the faculty concert for the music camp where I taught. Getting to this point took a couple of years of trying to find time to collaborate with the other teachers because our schedules are so varied. Thankfully one of the faculty members, Russell Ferrara (fabulous guitarist who is fluid in numerous genres) never gave up and simply insisted that we make it happen. Oddly enough it took his persistence to get me and fellow teacher Derwyn Browne playing together for the first time although we work together often and live near each other. Russell lives a thousand miles away!
I can definitely say that it was well worth the wait and that we should have done this sooner. If you haven’t played in a while, please let me suggest that you get out there and go for it! Why should our students be the only ones who get to play? Why should they be the only ones who experience the rush that comes from an audience erupting with applause? Why should they be the only ones who get that undeniable sense of satisfaction from having done their best onstage?
If you haven’t done so already, watch the video. I hope it will inspire you to go out and play!
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.
The weather is changing and so should the sounds coming from your piano studio! If you’re tired of hearing the same pieces over and over again from the various method books, your students probably are as well. How about taking a trip around the world?! The above video is a song from the Latin America collection of songs arranged and composed by Neeki Bey and Gail Fischler. As a reader of the Kids and Keys blog you probably recognize Gail Fischler’s name. She is the creator of the Musical Words Game that I wrote about recently. Now Neeki and Gail have teamed up in an effort to publish “the finest music of cultures around the world”.
When you hear the term “world music” your first thought might be that it is not something you are interested in because it is so unfamiliar. Well, fear not and get ready to go on the musical journey of a lifetime with Piano Accents! Besides, due to the internet and smart devices today’s world is definitely global. We are communicating more and more with each other across oceans and continents. We know that music is a universal language, so why not try out some musical sounds from different parts of the world?
Right now on the website pianoaccents.com there are 3 collections available. Africa, Bollywood, and Latin America. Each book has popular music from the part of the world for which it is named.
Here are some features that I like about these books:
1. The songs are outstanding and well known in the given culture. This makes it easy to find YouTube videos of famous artists performing it. I think YouTube is an invaluable tool to introduce new music to students because today’s students are so visual. Seeing someone perform the music professionally gets them excited about learning it.
2. There are YouTube videos of students playing the songs. This is also helpful when introducing the music to your students because it allows them to see that students just like them can and do play this material successfully. It gives them an “I can do it too” feeling.
3. There are brief 3-step teaching/learning tips throughout each book.
4. Each book includes info to help the student and teacher gain a little background knowledge about the music of that particular part of the world. This is in the form of bios of famous artists and pictures of traditional instruments.
5. Throughout the books, lyrics are translated to help you and the student better understand the song and thus perform the music with greater understanding and meaning.
6. A wide range of emotions is covered in the material. From the smooth groove Mas Que Nada to the “pulling at your heartstrings” Mi’ Tripon you will laugh, cry and dance your way around the globe with Piano Accents.
There are 3 different books which can be purchased separately or in a bundle.
As you use these books you will definitely want to make use of the pianoaccents.com website. There you will find complete tracks for the songs in the Latin America book and a track from the Africa book under the Audio tab. If you click on the purchase tab for the Africa book you will also be able to listen to more tracks. If you are still not sure after listening to the music (and I doubt it!) there are samples of the sheet music available as well on the same page.
An Important Benefit To Consider For Your Studio
More and more people from all various parts of the world are living in communities together. How cool would it be for people of different ethnicities to hear your students playing music from their home? This will help you stand out even more as a teacher in your area and can possibly bring you families that you otherwise would not attract. With Piano Accents, your studio can be a living example of how music brings us together!
We are quickly approaching the time of year where students are under a LOT of pressure. From recitals, concerts, local performances, school activities, midterms and finals students have a ton of things that need their attention. A great way to lighten things up in piano lessons is to use fun apps that keep the learning going but without the pressure.
With this in mind, I did a search for music theory apps and found some very cool ones that were new to me. The first one is Staff Wars. This is a game that was originally available only on desktop. I used to use it all the time before we migrated to using the iPad. I was thrilled to learn that it is now available as an app in the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad!
Cool Things About Staff Wars:
It is an arcade style game. Kids drill music notation on either treble, alto, or bass clef without even realizing they are learning!
It has awesome sound effects
A student played it yesterday at the end of his lesson and scored very high on treble clef, so I challenged him to beat that score at his next lesson. As I wrote the challenge in his notebook he played the game again…AND BEAT MY CHALLENGE! Then it was time for his sister’s lesson. He usually leaves during her lesson, but this time he stayed and continued to play the game until he even beat the challenge I gave him to replace the previous challenge that he beat!!!
If you want a game that motivates students – especially boys – hurry over to the iTunes app store and pay just $0.99 for Staff Wars!
Another promising app I found is –
This app is also presented in arcade style. The learning here is all about note values and their relation to each other. Whole notes appear huge and must be destroyed. The catch is that the whole notes break up into half notes and the half notes break up into quarter notes. You can get QAstronotes here.
Tried these apps already? Let me know in a comment how your students liked them.