music books

By Robin Steinweg

Books can be effective learning tools in our studios. February brings a couple of library observances: the 6th is “Take your child to the Library” day, and the 14th is “Library Lovers” day.

Here are 5 ways to include books in February (or anytime) lessons:

1. For a beginner learning piano keys or notes on the staff, every time sleep or bedtime is suggested in a book, the student places erasers or other tokens on the B-E-D keys, plays those notes on their instrument, places tokens on the correct lines/spaces of the staff, or draws them on a staff (Goodnight Already -Jory John & Benji Davies or Snoozefest -Samantha Berger). This would also work with a drawn guitar fingerboard.

The same thing can be done with other books and notes: D-A-D (The Daddy Book -Todd Parr; Oh, Daddy! –Bob Shea)

C-A-B-B-A-G-E (Cabbage Moon –Tim Chadwick; The Giant Cabbage –Cherie Stihler)

B-E-E-F (Cows in the Kitchen –June Crebbin; When Pigasso Met Mootisse –Nina Laden

E-G-G (Green Eggs & Ham –Dr. Seuss; An Egg is Quiet –Dianna Hutts Aston)

2. What books can be used to drill rests? Stop Snoring Grandpa –Kally Mayer (a rest whenever Grandpa snores); Last Stop on Market Street -Matt de la Pena (a rest whenever the bus stops)

Again, choose spots in the book ahead of time, and whenever you come to them, students find a particular rest in a piece of sheet music for their tokens, or draw rests.

3. Students learning the interval of a 5th could drill the circle of 5ths notes or keys along with Around the Clock -Roz Chast or Croc Around the Clock –Andrea Pollock

4. If your student is far enough along, perhaps they’d like to create sound effects on their instrument to go with a book: Whoops! -Suzi Moore & Russell Ayto, What the Ladybird Heard -Julia Donaldson, or Listen to My Trumpet! –Mo Willems. Really ambitious? Let them make up one or more themes for the characters in Peter and the Wolf. Afterward, let them hear Prokofiev’s version. What might they do with I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly -Nikki Smith? This activity can be done with a group!

5. Also for a group, you might create (or help your students create) a “Stomp-type” score for a book. Try The Phlunk’s Worldwide Symphony –Lou Rhodes.

Since Library Lovers Day is also Valentine’s Day, your tokens might be conversation hearts or red-pink-white M&Ms.

If your library doesn’t carry these books, try the inter-library loan, purchase them for your own library, or download them on your Kindle.

There are far more than 5 ways to include books in lessons, but these should get your thinker going. MTH readers would love to hear if you incorporate books in lessons!

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Posted in Music Theory, Teaching Tips

 violin

 

Want to find more students for your music teaching business? If you are a good teacher, and pupils enjoy your lessons, you may pick up the occasional referral from time to time.

However, if you want to earn a healthy income and find students more quickly, you need to understand how to market yourself as a music teacher.

This article contains seven methods for promoting your business:

1) Word of mouth

This is the best place to start. Tell everyone you know about your teaching business and hopefully they’ll spread the word. Tell family members, friends and acquaintances.

You can offer a “finder’s fee” and pay the person who refers you 100% of the first lesson fee.

2) Business Cards

Get hold of some business cards with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and website address. You can contact your local print shop or do it online. It doesn’t need to be too fancy, but shop around as you get some great deals, especially online. Keep the design fairly simple, but you might want to consider a theme linked to your profession.

Leave a few of your tutor business cards in local shops, libraries, sports centres and start giving them to people you meet at events. Don’t be pushy, but when people ask what you do, tell them and offer them your card.

3) Posters and Flyers

Create some flyers, posters and put them here, there and everywhere – local shops, libraries, sports centres, notice boards schools, music colleges and universities.

Also, think about demographics. This is important.

For example, while many music teachers target younger people, college kids, school pupils etc, they often overlook one important age group.

The retired.

If you can find an area in your town or city with a predominantly older demographic, pop a few flyers through their letter boxes. Many retired people have time on their hands and would love to learn a new skill.

In my profession, I meet so many who wish they’d learnt the piano when they were younger and I simply tell them it’s never too late. Also, you might meet some who had lessons years ago and just didn’t like their teacher.

Don’t forget some ‘old school’ teaching methods would make you wince if you used them in the 21st century!

4) Phone/E-mail

I’m not saying go and cold call 1000’s of residents in your town, but it might be worth contacting local music teachers in schools and ask if their students would like music lessons. These people are well connected and once they pass you one student, you can quickly gain some referrals.

While I was building my teaching business, I remember sending about 100 e-mails to local independent schools, offering my services as a piano teacher, with a link to my website, and I got 2 job offers with two full days of teaching!

5) Contact the competition

If there is an established music teacher in your town, give them a call. If they have a full teaching timetable, they might be turning away students, when they could be passing them on to you. This strategy can work well, and as long as you show it is in their interest, most will go for it.

I often perform at weddings and if I’m busy I have 2-3 pianists who I recommend people to contact. And these guys do the same for me.

I also teach jazz and popular music on the piano and pass on students to classical pianists in my area if I feel they will be a better fit for the pupil. And again these piano teachers do the same for me.

You should learn not to fear competition and use it to your advantage! You can never have too many connections…

6) Stage a taster event

You could hire the local village hall and invite people to watch a short presentation showcasing what you do as a music teacher. You could also talk about how your instrument works and even ask members of the audience to come to the stage and have a go!

This might cost a bit of money to do, but I know some music teachers who’ve had remarkable success with this method. In addition to the local hall, why not approach schools and see if you can give free presentations there.

Make it exciting so pupils will go home in the evening and beg their mum and dad for lessons  on your instrument!

7) Local celebrity endorsement

See if you can get a local celebrity, or someone really well known in your town or city, to recommend your services as a music teacher. They can use their connections with the local media to boost your profile.

These are just some strategies which can help you start and expand your business. Although it might seem tough to get started, it will pay off in the long term, and eventually you should pick up some referrals which will make things easier.

Try to set aside some time each day and ask yourself…

“What can I do today to grow my business?”

Martyn Croston helps music teachers who want to build a successful tutoring business. He shares more advice on his website: http://www.mytutorbusiness.com.

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Posted in Promoting Your Studio

Sandy Lundberg

The Stories We Tell

January 26th, 2016 by

music mentality

According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, in chapter seven of her book Rising Strong, we are hard-wired to tell stories to explain the world around us. By “stories,” she means our perceptions of ourselves and others. This inclination is so strong that our body actually releases cortisol and oxytocin when we come up with a satisfactory story to explain a situation. Unfortunately, most of our stories are constructed without all of the facts, especially since we cannot read other people’s minds or know all their history. Our stories also reflect all of our own past experiences and the stories we have created around them.

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

We are excited to announce that this Saturday evening, January 23rd, the new Music Teacher’s Helper will go live! Here are the important things to know about the improved look.

Please note: If your display looks off, Hold CTRL + SHIFT + R for a power refresh of your browser. If that does not work, please clear your browser cache and cookies. Please click here for instructions on clearing browser cache.

New look, same functionality.

The new design includes the existing functionality you have come to love about Music Teacher’s Helper. While the look is different, all the menu items and actions you perform will be done the same as before. Below is a preview of the dashboard and also an explanation of how the menu, now on the left side, will work.

The new look will work great on tablets, including iPads!

The new design will be responsive, which means the screen will resize to look good on any computer, tablet, or mobile device. We still recommend you use the dedicated iPhone and Andriod mobile apps to access exclusive features such as push notifications, GPS mileage tracking, and audio/video recording.

Dashboard view of the improved Music Teacher’s Helper

Responsive Music Teacher's Helper Design

Close up view of the new menu

Responsive Menu

 

Main things to know about the new menu:

  • You can minimize the menu by clicking the “hamburger” icon to the left of your studio name.
  • The subtabs show by selecting a main tab and if a subtab has additional options available, you will see that is does by the blue arrow. In the screenshot above, Students is selected as the main tab and E-mail Students is selected as the subtab to show the additional options.
  • The menu size will adapt to the screen you are using, including tablets and all iPad models.

Lastly, your My Account and other menu items previously displayed in the top right will now be available by clicking on the photo icon.

New My Account

Is the Student/Parent area updated as well? 

Yes! And an announcement has been made on their login screen directing them to a page about the updated design. But if you would like to provide them information about the changes, you may send them the following link about specific design differences for the student: http://blog.musicteachershelper.com/new-design-to-student-parent-area/.

We’ll continue adding in some of the bigger improvements and new features that have been requested, as well as several surprises which we know you’re going to love. Thanks for being a part of our Music Teacher’s Helper family! If you have any questions about the new design, please do not hesitate to reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com

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Posted in New Features and Fixes, Site Announcements

marketing

In my last post I suggested you double your prices. If you’re marketing stinks though, you’ll never find students to fill your studio at those prices. Your low prices may have found you students just because you were inexpensive, and there was little risk on the part of the students. When you raise your prices however, you need to do a much better job at marketing yourself.

Before we can talk about advertising we all need to be on the same page about important metrics.

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Posted in Financial Business, Promoting Your Studio

music school

The Challenges Of Teaching Pre-literate Preschool Music Students

“Most music method books are confusing, cluttered, and just plain suck!”

If you take a look at the way traditional music publishers present information, it makes little sense. There’s too much visual noise on the page, along with confusing notes intended for different audiences. Nevertheless, this is how so many music teachers begin the first lesson with their students.

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips

deslexia3

Have you noticed some of your pupils struggling more than usual to learn to read music? Do they score low in sight-reading tests? Do they take a really long time to learn a piece and then seem to be playing more by ear than by reading the music?

Maybe, just maybe they are dyslexic.

Sadly, many dyslexics go through life undetected. They’ve learnt to somehow find ways of avoiding situations which involve numbers and/or words and have endured endless frustration at the hand of parents, teachers, peers and themselves. Going back a little in time, before such learning difficulties were widely acknowledged, dyslexics were often Read more…

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips

top-pop-tips-730x730

As students return for lessons after the holidays, why not kick off 2016 with pop music? Surprising your students with some Coldplay along with Chopin–or any favorite tune from the past or the present–could strike just the right balance to keep things interesting during the long winter months ahead.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the past year and make some revisions for the months ahead.  Has your curriculum remained relatively the same and even become stagnant?  Could you better match the interests of potential and eager customers in your local area by revamping your curriculum and adding some hit tunes from Adele, The Piano Guys or Star Wars?

David Cutler, author of The Savvy Music Teacher, discovered from his extensive research that music teachers who generated substantial (successful) incomes were more likely to integrate three elements into their instruction compared to other teachers who did not. They include: improvisation, technology and multiple musical genres.

Need to spice up 2016? Considering a fresh approach? Ready to integrate more improvisation, technology and musical genres, ie, pop music in to your teaching? Then you will want to sign up for and attend the 88 Creative Keys Winter Webinar Webshop. Watch the video below for more details. Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

creating arrangements1

As a child, I heard people play or sing songs with five or more verses—every verse the same dirge-like tempo, same key, same inflections… The intent of the songs deserved better. I wanted to arrange songs to reflect the message and engage the listener. Now I help my students create arrangements as well.

Start Simply

A very young student might play/sing only one note differently. It’s a start! Perhaps a vocal student has a two-verse song. She goes through the melody twice and ends. Ask her if she can think of a way to change the ending to have more impact. If she can’t think of anything, give an example and have her try it.

Play a repeated passage two ways: once identically and once with a change. Ask which version held his interest, or would keep an audience engaged.

Students singing together might start singing harmony by splitting to a third only on the final note. Starting simply might mean simply making them aware.

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Performing

Reversing the learning process

There is a common presumption among music students that learning a piece of music is processed in this order:

1.  The mind tries to understand what’s going on through analysis, reading, listening to the teacher.
2.  The hands are told by the brain what to do so they can practice and learn their job.
3.  The ears serve as audience and judge to see how it comes out.

More and more, I have come to realize that this presumption only serves to frustrate students and slow them down.  For example, some students have trouble being asked to play a note if they do not understand why or how it fits into what they’re working on.  Others might go over a phrase of music several times successfully, and then look up and say that they don’t know how to play it.  A student may play several notes of a musical phrase and have their fingers poised correctly for the next note, but feel they can’t play it because they don’t “know” what comes next. Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips