When I was a kid, I loved buying expensive pads of manuscript paper. Trouble was, I didn’t quite know what to do with them!

Now, thirty-something years on, I’m always reaching for some manuscript paper to demonstrate to my students, scribble down an idea or to give to my pupils so that they can transcribe their latest creation.

A website that I’ve been using for some years now is blanksheetmusic.net. Great features include being very easy to use, available on all electronic devices, quick and best of all, free!

When you load the page you will notice a green “ribbon” at the top which quickly allows you to customize the paper before you. It is worth knowing that there are multiple functions to each button, so keep toggling through the options until you find the setting for you. You can easily increase or decrease the stave size according to the project and experience level of the student who will be using it. And when you are ready to print, click on the orange printer icon in the bottom right of the page. It really couldn’t be easier. That’s a Read more…

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

Hey, everyone. We hope your week is off to a great start. Here’s are updates from this past week:

  • In the new version, Billable attendance statuses being were showing up on invoices as Not Billable, even when set to be billable for some teachers. This has been resolved.
  • In the new version, a second contact listed under a child student were not receiving lessons notes even when selected to, and only one contact was receiving the notes. This has been fixed so all selected contacts will receive lesson notes.
  • In the new version, custom term dates in the Rate Packages that were longer than one month were billing monthly for some teachers. This has been fixed to reflect the exact range set by the Rate Package.

Did you know that you can individually set attendance for group lessons?

In the Attendance tab of the Calendar, you have the flexibility to set attendance for some or all past lessons at once. Plus, you can set individual group lesson attendance and leave lesson notes for each individual in a group, or for the entire group. This article walks you through in detail how to take advantage of the Attendance tab so you can start saving even more time after lessons!

If you have any questions for us or experience any issues, please reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Hi, everyone. We hope you’re having a great week so far. With summer coming up, don’t forget you can opt into our annual pricing and save the equivalent of two months! That way, there’s no need to go through the trouble of downgrading during summer months when you’re teaching less. To do so, go to My Account in the top right corner and change your Billing Frequency from Monthly to Yearly. Also, here’s an update from this past week:

  • In the new version, starting the Daily Summary Report required selecting it under Reports and Messaging. Now, if you select either, it will automatically select the other.

Did you know that you can sync your MTH Calendar to your Google, iCal, and Outlook Calendar?

If you’d like to see your MTH events on your preferred calendar app, syncing only takes a minute! Check out these instructions for setting up your MTH calendar to show elsewhere.

You can use the MTH calendar for non-studio events as well by not assigning to a student, and creating a custom category labeled “personal”. Either way, you can have peace of mind with your events in one place whether you sync with an outside calendar or use the MTH calendar for everything.

If you have any questions for us or experience any issues, please reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Imagine a musical review inspired by the original Mouseketeers and wrapped in the imagination of Walt Disney. It will both entertain and educate.

This is the third in a series of magical music recital ideas from my sister Vicky Dresser. I’ve included costume, program, décor and treat suggestions, plus a chronological list of some Disney movies and songs. And…Donald Duck might make a surprise appearance!

Tweak this Musical Review for Your Situation

  1. Content: You get to choose which Disney movies and songs to include. Will you go back to Disney’s first movie, Snow White, or only as far as the year your oldest student was born?
  2. Program: On the cover, a student’s rendering of the 1930s Mickey Mouse. Or perhaps the Mickey silhouette. Inside, create small mouse ears in front of each song. Three lower case letter o’s, the two outer ones superscript—like footnotes.

ooo Someday My Prince Will Come…………………………Student Name

  1. Costumes: Optional. They can be as simple as a T-shirt with students’ names or perhaps the Mickey silhouette, or as elaborate as costumes from the various movies represented.

The Mickey Mouse Club Musical Review—Sample Program

Your smiling Mouseketeers have greeted their guests, handed out programs and helped folks get seated. It’s time to begin. Gather your students up front for a group photo-op.

When students hear the “Mickey Mouse March” by Jimmy Dodd, have them split and march around the side aisles and back up the center. The music could be a recording or one or more students playing/singing. You might have an authentic Mouseketeer Roll Call with all students’ introductions—this can be their one bow of the day, after which they take their seats in the front rows.

Here is a chronological list of some Disney movies with quite a few song possibilities:

1937 Snow White Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Promoting Your Studio

Hi, everyone. We hope you’re having a great week so far. Here are a few updates from this past two weeks:

  • In the new version, the previous balance was not calculating correctly on generated invoices but are now matching transactions in the billing area.
  • In the new version, lessons changes that are marked for a non-billable status in the Edit Attendance area (i.e. cancelled, late, rescheduled), were still being invoiced for some teachers. This has been resolved and going forward, lessons changes marked as non-billable will not show as money owed on invoices.
  • When adding a fee or a payment from the Attendance page in the calendar, notes were not always saving. That has been resolved so your notes will be visible and save properly.

Did you know that you and your students can record audio and video on the app?

If you haven’t downloaded the Android or iPhone app to your mobile device yet, we encourage you to do so! We’ve heard from several teachers that calling a student from their contacts list while they’re out, to checking schedules on the go, and tracking mileage for lessons outside the studio have been a lifesaver. Here’s a list of everything you can do with the app.

The app also has some functionality only found on the mobile device, such as the ability for you and your students to record audio and video. These recordings are then automatically uploaded your File area to view. Read this article on more specifics for recording audio and video.
If you have any questions for us or experience any issues, please reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

My old music teacher leaned over towards me, his frail and aged frame and old-fashioned dress sense reminded me of a character from a Dickens novel. “Here you go boy! This will help you with your sight-reading.” His outstretched hand held out a music book of Bach, his favourite composer. I had long feared the sight-reading test in my music exams. After playing the examiner my scales, with which my eighty-some-thing teacher was obsessed with, and then my pieces, next came the bit which was a complete and utter mystery to me! The sight-reading and aural (ear-training) tests. Dum, dum, DUM!!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I have a real passion and respect for Bach now, largely instigated by my wonderfully eccentric teacher but as a teenage boy, most of the preludes, chorales, inventions and selected dances in that book were simply too hard for me to learn let alone sight-read.

I had long feared the sight-reading test in my music exams. After playing the examiner my scales, with which my eighty-some-thing teacher was obsessed with, and then my pieces, next came the bit which was a complete and utter mystery to me! The sight-reading and aural (ear-training) tests. Dum, dum, DUM!!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I have a real passion and respect for Bach now, largely instigated by my wonderfully eccentric teacher but as a teenage boy, most of the preludes, chorales, inventions and selected dances in that book were simply too hard for me to learn let alone sight-read.

Fast-forward on, as a teacher myself now, I have been obsessed with helping my pupils over the years to be successful at reading at sight (as well as helping them to develop good musical ears!) Partly fueled by my own inadequacies and knowing that developing good sight-reading ability just helps students learn songs so much quicker. Also, good sight-reading skills enable them to fit into ensemble playing with greater ease.

I am a big fan of the Paul Harris series “Improve Your Sight-Reading!” so was very interested to stumble on a new series by the same author and publisher (Faber Music) with the extended title “Improve Your Sight-Reading! A piece a week (Piano).”

The purpose of this series is to give students a new piece to learn each week (or two weeks max.) so as to help them avoid the trap of just laboriously learning exam pieces my memory. Rather than merely sight-read the piece, the composer’s introductory comments encourage them to fully learn the piece but with the idea that a short new song each week will really build their music reading confidence. There is a lot of material. 26 pieces in the grade 1 book with a wide variety of styles designed to appeal to the modern student. The pieces are fun often featuring interesting techniques and the evocative titles. There are three activity pages (musical terms word search, crossword and some quite innovative “detective” activities involving analyzing the pieces that the student has been learning).

So what about the pieces? Are they any good? You’ll be glad to know that my sight-reading skills have significantly improved from those spotty teenage days of Bach and therefore I have “road-tested” this material for possible use in my lessons.

I have to say that although none of the songs are going to massive hits in my music studio, they are very well written from the perspective of a person just developing a little bit of confidence in reading music. They are very accessible which I like and give a real chance to teach the importance of a steady pulse and to incorporate dynamics and articulation as an important part of the storytelling. Overall I am quite impressed and I am seriously considering how to incorporate them into my students’ lessons. I think between exam preparation they could really help students build their reading skills in a gentle and imaginative way. I am sure that some of the pieces would be revisited by students. I think this series will be an excellent supplement to aid teaching students to enjoy the pleasure that reading music brings.

Oh well, I’m going “Bach” for more! (Sorry!)

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Posted in Music News, Practicing, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

It’s been such a pleasure collaborating with Andrea West. She’s a piano teacher and graphic designer. Andrea recently created some stunning graphics for recital programs and a video on how to create your program and I want to share them with you.

You can check out all her designs here.

Once you find a design you like, Andrea steps you through the process of how to use your favorite graphic to create your recital program in Word in the video below. Even if you don’t use Word, you’ll find her tips helpful when using Pages or Google Docs!

Full disclosure: The designs are found at the Piano Teacher Planning Center at my blog 88pianokeys.me. Usually, I wouldn’t write about “products”  featured in my own store but, I believe that Andrea provides such value in her video and her graphics that I felt compelled to share them here at MusicTeachersHelper.com.

Here’s what teachers have been saying about the video and the graphics:

“I just finished creating my spring recital program following Andrea’s step-by-step video instructions. She made it so easy! I love the template she created as it really makes my program cover pop! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love it!”

-Paula W

“That tutorial was much better than some of the classes that I have taken in the past that I had to pay for!”

-Leisa J

Don’t worry about taking notes as Andrea also provided written instructions with plenty of graphics for visual learners like me. Click here to access the download.

There’s more…here’s a link to the free recital template Andrea talks about in the video.

One more thing, save on ink and spare yourself from printer frustrations by joining MTNA and taking advantage of their member benefits card. Show up with your “magic card” and you’ll get close to 60% your printing costs! Learn more here.

Click here if you can’t see the video.

Additional ways to amplify your graphic

The word “amplify” means to increase or enlarge. Why not get the most out of your graphic and put it to work beyond the recital cover? Here are tips on how to take advantage of cool graphics and increase traffic to your studio.

T-shirts

Amplification is exactly what good friend, fellow piano teacher and my online piano student, Debbie Moore did.  screen-shot-2017-04-05-at-11-17-15-amDebbie brought in her Jazzy Piano graphic to a local t-shirt store and asked them to design a t-shirt logo with the graphic.

Debbie limited the colors of the design to black and white to save money and had the design printed on colorful t-shirts. She gave a t-shirt to each of her students after the recital.

Why is this SUCH a stellar idea? The souvenir t-shirts cost $7 each. This may seem extravagant for a tight budget but, Debbie gave her students a snazzy t-shirt and also gave her studio some great exposure. As she lives very close to two schools and was driving by the playground, she saw students proudly wearing their recital t-shirts. BRILLIANT marketing!

Book Bags

Not into t-shirts? What about using the graphic to create book bags for your students?

I uploaded Jazzy Piano at Vista Print and kicked out this prototype cinch sack in minutes. I don’t know about yours, but my students beat up their book bags! I think I may be ordering some very soon.

95Wristbands or Trophies

One year I created customized slap bands and ordered them from AmazingWristbands.com. I checked and you can upload your own artwork at this site.

If you order trophies for students, you can upload your own image into “insert trophies.” Check out the options at Crown Awards.

Coffee Mugs

Like coffee? Look at this fancy coffee mug!

Marketing materials

Create postcard recital invitations for students to hand to friends and neighbors or a poster to hang at your students’ school.

spring-recital-2

Create Evite invitations. Use Evite as one more way of inviting/reminding parents about the recital date and time. It’s free and easy to use, and you can customize it with the same artwork as your recital cover to keep the theme consistent. This option will definitely save on printing costs!

Bonus: with Evite you can limit the number of guests, which you may need to do if you hold your recital in a small venue. Also, if you have more than one recital, Evite lets recipients add the date and time to their calendar, which will help them remember the correct performance time.

Create a Facebook cover. If you communicate regularly through your studio Facebook page, create a cover for your page with the same graphic as your program. This image was created at Canva.com.

spring-recitals-3

Your options to amplify the use of Andrea’s graphics are limited only by your imagination.

Please let us know how you put your graphic to work for your studio. Andrea and I would be eager to hear your ideas!

-Leila

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Posted in Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

We just helped complete a funding campaign on DonorsChoose.org with our recent donation.  An elementary classroom in Los Angeles will now be getting small percussion instruments for the fall!

Please check out our general donation page for music classroom projects that still need funding and consider giving: www.donorschoose.org/MTH.

The billing and invoicing feature for the new version are moving along with testing and we’ll make sure to make a big announcement when it’s available. Here’s one notable fix from the past week from the new version:

  • If you’ve tried to enter your personal website into the Website tab under Settings, when you select “Link to a website I already have”, you may have noticed it only shows an option with a prefix for a Music Teacher’s Helper website. The prefix has been removed so you can now enter your personal website. To learn more about how your current studio website and your Music Teacher’s Website can work together, please check out the Studio Website Articles on the Knowledge Base.

Did you know that you can edit and create your own email templates?

Customize the various emails that are sent automatically by selecting Settings in the top right of the dashboard and then selecting the Messaging tab. Edit existing templates or create new email templates. Adding to the signature, and including your own tone and writing style will make a difference when communicating with your students and parents! Use this Knowledge Base article for full details on the message types and how to make changes.

 
If you have any questions for us or experience any issues, please reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

Folk songs used to top the lists of school music classes. Now it’s rare to find a student who has even heard many of our country’s folk songs. Why not celebrate them in a recital?

This is my second article in a series of ideas from my sister Vicky Dresser, maker of magical music recitals.  And as I’ve shared hers, I’ve gotten a few of my own. You’ll probably think up even more as you read. I invite you to share them with MTH readers in the comments below.

Organize Songs by Type or Genre:

  • Old colonial Times
  • River songs and Sea Chanteys
  • Spirituals
  • Wartime songs
  • Novelty songs
  • Camp songs
  • Old time religion
  • Mountain music
  • The old west
  • Patriotic songs
  • Good old folk tunes (plain and fancy)
  • Hi-brow
  • Modern folk
  • Mining songs from the gold rush

This type of recital practically begs for variety. Read more…

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Posted in Music History & Facts, Performing, Promoting Your Studio

With spring in full swing, we hope that you’re enjoying warmer weather and that your week is going great so far.

To our international members, if you were seeing the U.S. Dollar currency when logging into your account but have local currency in your account settings, that issue has been fixed. We are sorry for any inconvenience that was caused as a result of the currency switch.

In addition to the small fixes and continual progress towards the new billing and invoicing feature being made, here are three fixes from the past week that were all related to the new version:

  • Events were disappearing when dragging and dropping to a new time slot in the Day view.  
  • Editing a repeating event was creating a duplicate event for some members.
  • When viewing the Agenda view in Calendar, events were showing future lessons first. It now shows current lessons first, then future lessons.

 

Did you know that you can automatically add late fees to overdue invoices?

 

In the new version, set up your account to automatically act on your studio late payment policy by enabling charging of late fees. You can charge a percentage of the invoice or a flat fee.

To set up, make sure you’re in the new version first, then head over to Settings in the top right dropdown, then click the Invoices & Payments tab, and scroll down to the Reminders and Late Fees section. Add in your late fee amount and make sure to click the green Save button at the bottom when you’re finished. Another task taken out of your hands and automated!  
If you have any questions for us or experience any issues, please reach out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

 

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Posted in New Features and Fixes