music lesson reminder tool

 

Event reminders will now continue to be sent even if a subscription payment attempt to Music Teacher’s Helper fails until the account is suspended so that student communication isn’t disrupted for things like expiration date changes on the credit card you use.

The latest  update to the iPhone app has just been released. Many bug fixes were made and new features include:

  • Invoicing – ability to create, edit, view and print invoices.
  • Menu structure update
  • New birthday section in reports
  • Ability to create students or parents from contacts in your phone
  • Login with TouchID (fingerprint)
  • Added more details to Fees and Credits.
  • Updated recurring event editing.
  • Updated make up credit handling

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Robin Steinweg

Refresh

June 28th, 2015 by

Teachers get tired, need to refresh.

Tired music teacher

We need time away from lessons and students. Whether for an hour, a week, a month or a season. How can we relax and refresh ourselves to be ready when the next student shows up at the door?

Time to refresh

Time to refresh

I asked my friends at Piano Teacher Central, on Facebook, what helps them recharge.

Here are answers from this generous group:

  • Read, read, & read. Preferably sitting on a quiet deck or by a rushing stream. Marathon TV series watching—currently watching Doc Martin!
  • Silence and a good night’s sleep without the deadline of a morning lesson.
  • Quilt, garden, genealogy, and other crafts that hit my fancy!
  • Play the piano
  • Look at FB lol
  • Wait, you mean there is life beyond teaching piano?
  • emoticon, shocked
  • Quilt many quilts… some even with music.
  • Agree with the second one above, but also art
  • I love country walking when I need a break. Very energizing and refreshing.
  • Play Angry Birds on FB, read, binge-watch movies, beach time.
  • A walk in the woods or a good workout with a DVD (dance party! Lol)
  • I play with my kids, and read…I honestly need it to be pretty quiet once I finish teaching, at least for awhile.
  • I used to teach in the summer… …Now I’ve decided that summers are short, the weather is beautiful and having July and August off is my reward for 10 months of hard work. I will refresh myself by reading at the beach just a few blocks away, learning to stand up paddle board, kayaking, and doing photography.
  • I go here (photo of sun setting over a calm ocean beach) and hide from the world. I don’t touch anything to do with lessons for awhile.
  • It helps me to read piano blogs and posts on Piano Teacher Central! I get excited about teaching again and using new ideas.

As for me, I:

  • get “musicked out”—spend time in silence
  • Shhhhhh

    Shhhhhh

  • write
  • read books on teaching
  • read blog posts
  • attend live performances—variety of genres
  • hold a private sight-reading marathon
  • browse music books and sheet music at the local music store
  • sub for another teacher on vacation—I have no idea why this works, but it does
  • jam with other musicians for the fun of it
  • further my education—attend workshops
  • try out new pianos and guitars at the music store
  • have been known to take a long soak in the tub
Hey, I can dream, right?

Hey, I can dream, right?

How do YOU refresh?

 

 

 

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips

Hannah Cameron at piano

Now, go home and practice!

Much of the learning of an instrument takes place at home, between lessons. The more productive the home practice is, the better the progress. Below is a handout I once gave to my students to put in their binders as a reference for when they were not sure what to work on next. The instructions were to chose a category, then work on 3-5 items from the list. The lists are a little random, and many more points could be included, but it is a starting point. I have also used practice card decks, and even made Andrea Dow’s “popsicle sticks in a cup” as a group lesson activity, in which students write practice ideas on popsicle sticks, then place the sticks in plastic drinking cup and set it on their piano. They draw out sticks when practice inspiration is needed. This coming year I would like to make an entire “home practice kit” for each student. I’ll write a blog about it once it comes together!

Practice Helps

1. tempo, beat, rhythm

  • check the time signature, look for any variations
  • establish a steady beat at a manageable tempo
  • tap out or clap the rhythm hands separately counting out loud
  • use the metronome
  • try tapping the right hand melody rhythmically while tapping the beat with your left hand, and visa versa
  • find the underlying “felt” beat in the music
  • try counting using the smallest note value as your beat
  • in complicated sections draw a vertical line connecting the right- and left-hand notes that belong on the same beat

2. fingering, chord patterns and intervals

  • slowly play each hand separately while checking for exact fingering
  • if any changes are needed in fingering, carefully re-mark the score
  • highlight or note any places where the hand changes position for a new fingering pattern
  • practice, in isolation, any hard fingering passages, then connect them to the surrounding phrases
  • figure out what key the music is in and play the primary chords for that key
  • look for chords in your music, in blocked or broken patterns
  • look for intervals in the melody and harmony to help you find new notes and assist in fingering
  • if a passage has very difficult fingering, try memorizing it
  • try playing a passage slowly with your eyes closed, just by touch, without looking at the music or the keys
  • make a difficult passage into a fun exercise by playing it over and over moving up a whole step each time

3. posture, relaxation, body alignment

  • check to make sure you are sitting on your “sitting bones” and your back is tall, neither slouched nor over-curved inward, practice shifting your balance from one hip to the other
  • make sure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms are hanging freely
  • with your arm hanging loosely, find your natural, relaxed hand position for each hand and carefully bring your hand up to the piano
  • be sure your bench is positioned properly, top knuckles just touch the fall board while leaning ever-so-slightly forward, forearm is parallel with the floor
  • make sure your feet are properly supported and are properly supporting your body
  • be sure your head feels well balanced and weightless on top of your shoulders
  • quickly check your relaxation and posture every so often as you play
  • keep your wrists level and relaxed and your arms aligned with your hands
  • lean back slightly when playing directly in front of your body

4. articulation, phrasing, clarity

  • find all the phrases in your music and mark them according to how they should be shaped
  • make sure each finger is playing all the way to the bottom of the key and the weight of your arm follows the fingers and stays behind each note as it is played
  • practice a legato passage staccato, and a staccato passage legato for a change
  • practice the two and three note slurs to get a proper pattern of dropping and lifting
  • practice lifting at the end of each phrase and dropping into the new phrase
  • try playing the piece at half the normal tempo and keep all the dynamics and phrasing correct
  • find the loudest note in each phrase and then add the other notes at the right loudness to properly shape the phrase
  • use Mary Gae George’s “Thermometer of Dynamics to mark detailed shaping to the phrases

5. expression, emotion, feeling

  • try to determine the mood of your piece:
  • look at the title and the words (if any)
  • look at the dynamic markings
  • look at the rhythm patterns
  • is it fast or slow, accented, legato or staccato, etc?
  • determine if it is in a major or a minor key
  • play through the piece and ask yourself how it makes you feel; look through your list of descriptive words
  • get a picture or a story in your mind that matches how the music makes you feel
  • sing the song with emotion and feeling and match that expression in your playing
  • dance to the song
  • record yourself playing and listen critically
  • listen to a high quality You-tube version of your piece, if available
  • over-emphasize the emotion, without worrying about accuracy for the time being

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Posted in Practicing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

image

It’s summer and time for teachers to have coffee and pastries! I hope your cakes are delicious! It’s nice to have a break, but many teach full or part time in the summer.

USE MTH TO EASILY SCHEDULE MISCELLANEOUS SUMMER LESSONS!

COFFEE & PASTRY + EAT!

COPY & PASTE + EDIT! Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management, Uncategorized, Using Music Teacher's Helper

music teacher software

If you have been experiencing an issue with editing events, that has now been fixed.  Also, minor improvements and bug fixes reported by the Music Teacher’s Helper Quality and Assurance Team have also been corrected this week.

Thank you for using Music Teacher’s Helper. Have a great week!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Master classes are my favorite sessions to attend at conferences. Just being in the presence of great teachers is inspiring, and their words of wisdom resonate with me long after the conference. When I teach, I often find myself quoting sayings I heard at master classes and pedagogy sessions I have attended. Some of my favorites are:

The longer the line, the greater the artist” – Jane Magrath

“If you can’t sing, you can’t play – you need to experience it inside” – Scott McBride Smith

“What is musicality? It is decency of the performer. It is the understanding of hidden meanings, connections, and completeness of the composition. It is deliciousness – not just in music, but in art and daily life” – Rozalie Levant

“Sonatinas are celebrations of contrasts” – Marvin Blickenstaff

“If you cut long notes short, you have no rhythm; if you are exact, you are too mechanical; if you are a little too late, ah – you are so musical!” Peter Mack quoting Ingrid Clarfield

“Grow like a tree when you crescendo – start small, eventually becomes magnificent” – Dang Thai Son

“Don’t feel guilty during the crescendo” – Anderson and Roe

“There are 256 pedal nuances” – Byron Janis

“Be a singer, try to be seductive” – Dmitri Rachmanov

“The Rachmaninov line aspires and then it falls down – it realizes everything is hopeless, then it tries again” – Jerome Lowenthal

“People who don’t read newspapers are uninformed, people who read newspapers are misinformed. Editions are opinions only” – John Perry quoting Mark Twain

Learn music through life and learn life through music” – Lang Lang

I take all my conference notes on my iPad. During the recent MTNA National Conference held in Las Vegas, I found the iPad to be an absolutely indispensable tool. Not only did I use it to present my session using Keynotes, I was able to get the most out of the master classes I attended. Here are two memorable experiences:

Intermediate Masterclass with Dr. Scott McBride Smith

image

 

Dr. Scott McBride Smith’s master classes are always audience-engaging. In this master class, he integrated technology and used an innovative slide sharing tool called “slideduet.” Attendees at the master class had the option to scan the QR code or type in the URL provided and view his presentation slides in real time.

These included biographical backgrounds and pictures of each of the student performers, their teachers and various accomplishments, interesting notes about the composers and the pieces being presented, quotes, as well as pedagogical thoughts and detailed analysis of important aspects. This means there was no need to take notes. Instead, I was fully drawn to what’s happening on the stage and inspired by the way Dr. McBride Smith interacted with each of the students.
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Here is the link to all the presentation slides. Notice each slide corresponds to the exact time it was presented during the master class. When I review them, I feel transported back in time to the master class itself!

 

Advanced Masterclass with Dr. Douglas Humphreys

I really liked the format of the advanced master classes of this year’s MTNA Conference:

1. Instead of the usual two to three participants per master class, only one student was featured – this allowed time for very detailed instruction.

2. The master teachers were teachers of the 2014 MTNA piano competition winners – this gave insight to how an extraordinary teacher works in their studio.

Professor Douglas Humphreys was METICULOUS, and this master class was worth every penny. As soon as I found out which piece was being presented, I opened the forScore app, searched for the piece on IMSLP, and downloaded the score onto my iPad. Then, I was able to follow EXACTLY what was going on in the session, as professor Humphreys dissects the piece and guides the extremely talented (and already very good young pianist) to an even higher artistic level. Because a full hour was dedicated to this session, much ground could be covered, and it was a real treat that all three movements of the Bartok Sonata were given attention. In many previous master classes I attended, too many students were assigned per hour; after each student has performed their piece, only 10-15 minutes were left for the teacher to work with the student, and usually we only got to hear how the first page should be played and then time was up! In this master class, it was like sitting in on a private lesson of the highest quality.

To demonstrate how convenient it was to have my iPad with me and how easy it was for me to take notes using the app, here are some snapshots:

 

image

image

Attending master classes is so enriching and necessary for a teacher to continue to grow. The next major music conference in the U.S. will be the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy scheduled for July 29-August 1. Do you plan on attending the master classes?

 

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Posted in Music & Technology, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

More and more students are getting comfortable with learning from home via the internet, whether by making use of videos or online lessons.  I say “getting comfortable” because it really takes a little getting used to.  Technical glitches can make learning frustrating.  If you want to expand your teaching studio to the internet, be sure to think about some of these issues.

The Right Connection Software
Many people use Skype for lessons but I find it cumbersome because you and your  student have to be on each other’s phone list, and you are dependent on each other’s computer quality more than cloud-based systems.  Skype transmits the signals but depends on your computer to have the right software and handle most of the communications work.  Some software have quirky ways of meeting up with people, or low quality images.  But there screenare many systems out there and they are worth experimenting with.

My preference is Zoom.  Biggest plus – it’s simple.  Some systems are Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Teaching Tips

software for music teachers

No major announcements this week. Just some minor fixes.

Improvements Made This Week:

  • Completed a major ‘under the hood’ technology update to increase the speed, performance, security, and pace of development.
  • Added the ability to sort files by clicking the column header in the File Area.
  • Solved a bug that interfered with student registration for some members.
  • Made a few dozen improvements and bug fixes reported by the Music Teacher’s Helper Quality and Assurance Team.

Let us know what improvements you’d like to see by giving your feedback here. And if you experience an issue while using the software, or just have general questions, please do not hesitate to contact support@musicteachershelper.com or 1-800-517-2811. Thank you for using Music Teacher’s Helper. Have a great week!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

software for music teachers

Each month, we continue to add features to Music Teacher’s Helper, including the mobile apps.

We are also working behind the scenes on a new look for Music Teacher’s Helper. We will continue to add features every month, but some of the features promised will not be available until the newly designed look is launched, at which time we will continue to add the new, great features to the software each month. While the look and feel of Music Teacher’s Helper will change at some point, adding features is a fluid process that is happening now and will continue after the switch.

A list of requested features is compiled from members through the forum as well as from tickets and phone calls. Please add your input. It’s greatly appreciated by our team. Thank you for understanding and thank you for using Music Teacher’s Helper!

Changes made this week:

  • 34 small improvements and corrections made from bugs reported by the Quality & Assurance Team.
  • Updated security rules to allow educational emails such as “you@city.k12.state.us“.

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

tractor and trailer

Now I must explain from the outset that I have absolutely no farming experience whatsoever! Completely zilch!

But I do know that a trailer will go nowhere without a tractor to guide it!

So how can we help young Jenny conquer that awkward phrase in her song?

How can we help old Mary Williams to master the art of rubato?

How can little Jonny play that scale with flair?

Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm

The answer is simple – us! It all starts with Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips