By Robin Steinweg

Blest be the binder that ties… together the details of my teaching. My Command Central Binder is one of three I’ll keep close this year. They’ll be colorful (because color makes me happy). They’ll be hardy (because I’m hard on them). They’ll be well organized (because I’m order-challenged).

The other two binders will be featured in future posts.

My Command Central binder is the one I need daily. It will help me run my studio smoothly. This information can be found in my computer lesson files. But I like hard copies printed out. I keep them in plastic sheet protectors. Then they don’t rip with continued use.

Command Central, Admin

Command Central Binder

Here are the administrative items I keep in this binder:

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Posted in Studio Management, Teaching Tips

It is back-to-school time again! At the last MTNA National Conference, I discovered three new repertoire series that I will be using in my studio.

00-44560Five-Star Solos by Dennis Alexander

There are three books in this series, from Early Elementary to Late Elementary levels. Dennis Alexander needs no introduction! I already use many of his original compositions in my studio, from Early Intermediate to Early Advanced levels, so I was very glad to come across this new series. Now my beginning students can experience the magic of his creative genius. There are 11 original solos in each book, all with optional duet accompaniments. They contain a variety of styles, tempos, and moods – from ballads, waltzes, Latin pieces, contemporary sounds, and “showstoppers” that are sure to inspire students and impress parents. The optional duet accompaniments are fresh and contemporary-sounding, and technically accessible by teachers, parents, or older siblings. Many of my students do the National Piano Guild Auditions, and this series is perfect for the Elementary categories.

00-44380Classics for Students – Bach, Mozart & Beethoven, selected and edited by Jane Magrath

A highly respected piano pedagogue and frequent music conference presenter, Jane Magrath also needs no introduction. This new series contains three books, from Early Intermediate to Late Intermediate levels, featuring the music of three great masters – Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. The literature found in this series provides a sequenced course of study for the serious developing student who aspires to play music with substantial quality. All selections have been carefully edited with sensible fingerings and helpful ornament realizations. Pedal markings are very sparse, so as to remain as authentic as possible to the original composer’s score. What I really like about this series is that before the works of each composer is introduced, there is a page on the biography of the composer as well as important and interesting facts. For example, in the case of Mozart, Book 1 talks about Mozart as a child prodigy, Book 2 mentions the interesting historical pianoforte dueling contest between him and Clementi, and Book 3 talks about his importance and popularity as an operatic composer. The biography page is followed by a page “About the Music,” giving helpful hints on the characteristics of the pieces and technical skills required to play them. This series is perfect for Intermediate level students participating in judged festivals/auditions/assessments that require standard literature from the Baroque and Classical periods. I hope planning is underway for a similar series covering the Romantic and Contemporary composers!

12-0571538517Mastering the Piano by Lang Lang Piano Academy

Well, Lang Lang definitely needs no introduction! Arguably the most controversial of all famous classical pianists, love him or not, his influence and superstardom can not be denied. This new series contains 5 books, from Level 1-5. Warning: the levels DO NOT coincide with standard US pedagogical leveling! Level 1 (labeled as Early Elementary) is actually more like Late Elementary in my opinion, while Level 5 (labeled as Intermediate) is more like Late Intermediate to Early Advanced. Each book contains 8 units that aim to develop key aspects of piano technique, including specially devised exercise and studies that focus on a specific technical area. If you are a fan, there are lots of stunning photos in each book, showing his amazing fingers and famous posture, as well as commentary and guidance from the pianist himself.

86B6998B-1C5A-4DE9-B79D-E23192784B0AWhat I do like about this series:

  1. The selections are “uncommon” – there are some famous pieces that everyone knows, but there are lots of lesser-known pieces that you do not find in other series, including arrangements of music from other cultures. For example, here are the titles from Level 1: Lantern Song (Traditional Chinese) * Canzonet (Christian Neefe) * Hopscotch (Richard Harris) * Mission Impossible (Pam Wedgwood) * Allegretto in F (Johann Georg Witthauer) * Simple Gifts (Joseph Brackett) * Twilight (Richard Harris) * Cuckoo (Emil Breslaur) * Chasing Tails (Alan Bullard) * Minuet in C (Domenico Scarlatti) * Ode To Joy (Ludwig van Beethoven) * (Allemande (Ludwig van Beethoven) * The Elephant (Camille Saint-Saens) * Lullaby (Johannes Brahms) * Mo li hua (Jasmine Flower) (Traditional Chinese) * Embrukoi (Traditional African). Highly unusual but interesting for a “Level 1” book wouldn’t you say?!
  2. The commentary is very “personal” – it is as if though Lang Lang is sitting next to you and talking to you. There are numerous quotes and “messages from Lang Lang.” For example, in Book 2 Unit 1 Exploring the keyboard: “In this unit I would like you to start moving all around the piano keyboard with more confidence. We’re going to get used to traveling smoothly and swiftly and playing high up and low down.” “Keep a soft, curved hand position and relaxed arms and shoulders even when you are moving quickly around the keyboard. Have fun!”
  3. As he says in the Introduction of each book, you do not need to work through the units progressively. One can “Pick and choose what you would like to focus on depending on your own individual needs and tackle the units in an order that suits you.” There are also additional supporting materials from langlangpianoacademy.com

One can sense Lang Lang’s passion and drive in this series. He has inspired millions, and I look forward to using this series with some of my students, especially the ones that love him or have heard him in concert. I know when they see Lang Lang say “I was always told to curve my hands and fingers – as though there was an egg under my palm. This is a wonderful posture for making sure the power flows directly to our fingertips” – it will carry a little more weight than when I say it!

All of the above new resources can be purchased on the Alfred website.

 

 

 

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Posted in Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

Software Updates – Quality Control Updates and Slight Color Changes

This week we made minor updates for a couple dozen issues reported by customers and the MTH Quality Control team, and continued to improve the codebase for better security and stability.

You may have also noticed that some colors within the application are slightly updated as we begin to modernize the interface of the software in very small steps.

We hope you had an enjoyable summer, and look forward to working with you this coming year!

 

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Your musical knowledge, teaching ability, and marketing skills all play central roles in allowing you the opportunity to teach music. Without them, there would be no students, and no personal reward in working with them.

However, scheduling is the center of making a teaching business function smoothly.  Whether you work with kids or adults, everybody these days has full schedules — work, family, school, sports, and more.  Below are six elements to consider when thinking about scheduling lessons and classes in your studio.

1. Eminderscalendar2
2. Open slots
3. Clear policy
4. Flexibility
5. Firmness
6. Accessibility

Now, for the details!
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Posted in Financial Business, MTH 101, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper

New Updates for Existing Themes to help out mobile visitors.

We’ve updated the “Music Staff”, “Piano”, and “Balance” themes so that they adapt to fit mobile screens, and include a mobile menu.

 

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Last week we’ve also made improvements for 50 requests made by customers and the MTH Quality Assurance team.

 

Please do let us know which themes you would like to see updated next!

 

 

 

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Posted in New Features and Fixes, Promoting Your Studio

Day 283 / 365 - SkillsI remember it as though it were yesterday. The song was called “Moonlight and Roses.” I hated that piece. I still do!

With tears streaming down my face, try as I might, I was getting nowhere. My mum patiently sat with me, trying to coax me to work through my frustration but to no avail.

Things just went from bad to worse. As my progress on the song deteriorated, frustration turned to anger. “I HATE this song!” “I HATE my music teacher!” “I want to QUIT my music lessons!” “I GIVE UP!” I screamed, red in the face, anger exploding from every fibre of my 8-year-old body.

What happened next was my mum’s worst and finest hour of parenting! In hindsight, she should have Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Practicing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

Music Teacher iPhone

Update Released for the Music Teacher’s iPhone App

This week we released an update for the Music Teacher’s Helper iPhone app. The newest feature contains a GPS mileage tracker. Also, the calendar was made more user-friendly based on feedback from members. Lastly, there were various bug fixes made to both the iPhone and Android App.

With the desktop version, several minor issues were corrected along with new security and codebase improvements were made.

Want to suggest a new feature or improvement on an existing one? We’re all ears! Please submit a comment on our knowledge base forum.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

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Count on Tin Pan Rhythm to boost your budding musicians’ understanding of harmonic progressions. Count on the app to trigger arranging skills thanks to the app’s intuitive interface. One more, you can count on students catching on to using the Tin Pan Rhythm  in seconds–I’m not exaggerating–and charge up their creative juices.

Here’s an extended tutorial provided by the developers so I won’t go into details on how the app works. You may not even need to watch the tutorial as it’s so intuitive. I know you’ll enjoy learning the app as you go. Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music Theory, Product Reviews

music teaching apps

Not many updates to announce this week. If you haven’t already, try out our iPhone or Android mobile apps.

Updates:

  • Fixed a bug that affected the updating of events via drag and drop on the calendar.
  • Corrected 30 issues reported by the Quality & Assurance Team.

Let us know if you have any questions about using Music Teacher’s Helper by contacting support@musicteachershelper.com. Have a great week.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Robin Steinweg

Prepare for Fall

July 28th, 2015 by

By Robin Steinweg

How do you prepare for fall? A vacation from lessons or a lighter teaching load can offer opportunities to create a master list.

Prepare for Fall

Prepare for Fall

Here are some of my to-dos:

  • Determine available teaching times
    • Will I offer 30, 45 or 60-minute lessons?
    • How many weeks will I teach?
    • Will I give myself weeks off?
  • Send my policy, schedule, and registration forms to students
    • Let students sign up on MTH!
    • Will I get a raise?
    • Does my policy need tweaking or firming up (See other teachers’ policies for ideas)?
    • Will I require parents to initial sections and sign an agreement?
  • Weed my files
    • What haven’t I used in a year?
    • Are files titled for easiest retrieval?
    • Shall I divide by grade level or genre? What works best for me?
    • Might I use a retrieval system—such as Paper Tiger online?
    • Will I donate or sell what I don’t keep?
  • Clean/organize my studio
  • Attend workshops
    • Plan so I don’t purchase duplicates or binge
  • Check instruments for needed maintenance
  • Consider a theme for the year or season
    • Will group classes, recitals and special pieces reflect this theme?
    • Will I decorate according to the theme?
      • (a bulletin board labeled “Prepare for Fall” could contain notes/symbols to identify, or a picture with hidden music symbols. A football field with lesson “yard lines” might make for a prepare for fall practice push)
    • Choose new activities or games
      • A studio-wide motivation chart to record goals met
      • New game for group lessons
    • Contact waiting list if there are timeslots to fill
    • Look for décor, incentives and teaching aids at garage sales, thrift stores or a dollar store
      • Laser pointer
      • Stick with pointing hand
      • Shaped erasers
      • Stickers
      • Prizes for goals met or to add to the studio “store”
    • Waiting area materials
      for the waiting room

      for the waiting room

      • Puzzles
      • Books
      • Music magazines
      • Coloring books and crayons or colored pencils
      • Water bubbler or bottles
      • Swap out materials monthly or quarterly?
    • Add technology—for the techno-challenged, push yourself to try just one!

What would you add? Or do you prepare for fall in a totally different way?

In my August 28th post I’ll have ideas for creating teacher binders. See you then!

 

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Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper