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

Hi, Everyone. If you’re not already using the Music Teacher’s Helper app for your iPhone and Android smartphone, head over to the app store on your device, type Music Teacher’s Helper into the search bar, download, and enter your existing login info to gain access. The app has some useful features such as a metronome, record audio/video, and push notifications.

And here are some notable fixes from the past week:

  • In the new version, the running balance was showing incorrectly in billing history for some members. That has been corrected and proper balances are shown.
  • In the new version, expenses were not saving correctly if the dollar amount has more than three digits, such as $1,000 or greater. It is now fixed, so expense your new piano!
  • In the new version, Region Settings was not changing the default currency and language settings to that region, specifically Great Britain. That has been fixed to show the British Pound and U.K English when the Region Setting is switched.

Did you know that you have the option to set attendance separately for group lessons?

In the new version, when you click the tab for Attendance above the the calendar (next to Month and Week view), you can set bulk attendance as well as set attendance for individual students separately for group 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, Studio Management

The six practice strategies listed below come directly from the cognitive psychological scientists at LearningScientists.org. Megan Smith and Yana Weinstein hold doctorate degrees and have systematically applied current research on the brain and how it learns to the classroom setting.

I’ve taken their learning strategies one step further and applied them specifically to practicing an instrument. A good portion of the following paragraphs closely resemble their findings and I greatly appreciate their inspiration for this post!

The main point of their research is how the brain remembers best. It’s not through repetition nearly as much as through retrieval of information.

“Every time you leave a little space, you forget a bit of the information, and then you kind of relearn it. That forgetting actually helps you to strengthen the memory. It’s kind of counterintuitive, but you need to forget a little bit in order to then help yourself learn it by remembering again.”

-Weinstein from TheCultofPedagogy.com

You may find the list below validating like it was for me. I’ve encouraged most of these tactics for years and am thrilled that they are now scientifically proven to work thanks to Dr. Smith and Dr. Weinstein! Perhaps you’ll feel the same? Each strategy is first defined in the clinical terms found at TheLearningScientists.org. Next, you’ll read how I relate them to practice. I’ve also connected visuals to each strategy to help practicers understand and recall each one. Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

How many times do you explain what an interval is in a year? How often do you introduce and review chords and their inversions? Wouldn’t it be nice to offer a resource for your students that suits your curriculum that can be viewed repeatedly and accessed any time? Ideally, this approach—called a flipped classroom—leads to less lesson time spent introducing a concept and more time reinforcing it.

A flipped classroom is defined as

“a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.”

With today’s tech tools, you can produce your own material or borrow resources from others for your flipped classroom approach….

E-Books

An app called Book Creator makes it easy for teachers to design customized “lectures” for students to watch at home or during off-bench time at lessons. The app provides a user-friendly platform for creating interactive e-books that feature text, narration, graphics and videos. It’s available for the iPad as well as Android and Windows tablets. Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Music Theory, Product Reviews, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

Andrew

Member Spotlight – George

January 6th, 2017 by

Welcome back to our member spotlight series. Today we have George. He teaches guitar and drums in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

How long you’ve been teaching?
Since 1995.

How would you describe your studio space to someone that’s never visited?
I travel to the students’ home.

Was there a specific moment when you realized you loved teaching music?
I think when I realized how much joy it can bring to people both young an old made me realize I was doing something worthwhile, both for them and for myself.

How did you feel in the moment you made the decision to be an independent music teacher? Do you recall being nervous/excited/scared?
I was excited because it is a risk but the reward of being able to do something you enjoy is worth the risk.

What were the steps you took to get your first lessons to having a full student roster?
It is always a little slow going at first but it will happen over time if you stick to it. I mainly started out with flyers and internet ads and then as you go referrals happen and your business spreads through word of mouth.

What is one piece of advice you could offer to someone looking to start teaching music lessons?
Don’t stop you have to always put the work in even when at times it can seem discouraging.

How do you currently find new students?
I use a combination of things to attract new students. You really cannot rely solely on one thing. Try different things find what works best and stick with it.

How do you feel when you think back to all students you’ve interacted with over the years and impacted positively?
It is a good feeling to feel like you possibly may have made a difference in their lives in a positive way.

What is your favorite part of a lesson?
Usually working on songs especially songs that a student enjoys playing.

Is there a favorite piece or style of music you find yourself teaching your students today? And how has that changed from when you started teaching?
I like teaching modern songs and country. When I first started it was more geared towards rock but you need to adapt to the times.

How long have you been using Music Teacher’s Helper?
About 10 years.

What is your favorite thing about Music Teacher’s Helper?
It helps me keep track of my students lessons which is a crucial thing if you are self employed.

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Posted in Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

music teaching positive

We asked a few Music Teacher’s Helper members about something positive that happened in their studio this past year. Here are some answers below. Tell us yours in the comment section! 

“I started teaching students as young as five years old this year, and my studio grew. :)” – Brooke

“This year I am thankful that when one branch of my studio closed, a majority of my students from there traveled out of their way to continue to study with me at my home branch. I am grateful for their dedication and trust in my teaching. :)” – Lisa

“In 2016 I became much more professional. One of the things that helped the Alameda Cello Studio was Music Teacher’s Helper. It helped me to have an online presence that looks great, and also to get my student info organized and my calendar online.” – Marcie

“Finished the year with a great student piano recital! I appreciate the immediate, knowledge, and courteous help available through your live chat support.  Thanks!” – Angela

“I’ve had good recitals this year — and gained some wonderful new students, including a 25 year old autistic young man who I love working with.” – Karen

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Posted in Professional Development, Studio Management

Do you give your students gifts during the holiday season? If so and if you’re like me, it’s usually a struggle to find something that is meaningful with a reasonable price tag. A couple of years ago I came up with a solution that I believe I’ll be repeating again this year. It’s a student gift that keeps on giving.

Before I dive in with the details, it’s not a bad idea to step back and ponder the purpose of giving gifts. With all the emphasis on “stuff” in our society, do our students really need one more thing?

A couple of years ago a book caught my eye: What Music Means to Me. The picture book includes large pages with stunning images that capture the essence of various gifted musicians. Alongside each photo is a personal, touching essay about the profound impact of music in their lives.

book-logo1

Bonus features:

  • Poetry by Barbara Kreader (composer for Hal Leonard and one of my favorite authors at Clavier Companion)
  • Forward by Brian Chung (excellent speaker and General Manager of Kawai America Corporation.)
  • DVD which includes photos of the featured musicians along with them reading their own essay.
  • Can’t-put-a-price-tag-on-it bonus: I met the photographer in person, Mr Richard Rejino. and my book includes his autograph.

You can purchase the book here.

So how does the book fit into this blog about giving gifts to students? Let me explain. Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management, Teaching Tips

Leila Viss

The Five P’s of Performing

November 15th, 2016 by

Once a piece is memorized with all the details in place it would seem a successful performance would follow. I believe there are THREE MORE ESSENTIAL elements that guarantee a positive outcome for a rookie and seasoned performer. In my opinion, these steps involving the head down to the toes are almost as important as preparing the piece itself. Here’s the first of the three elements:

Prepare to Perform

Group lessons are the perfect opportunity for peers to test the readiness of an upcoming performance. Besides each pianist playing a well-rehearsed piece, all follow and help each other memorize these components surrounding the performance. The routine encourages students to enter into the desired “performance zone” with a simple ritual. Here’s how I explain it to future performers: Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management

 

magic-cube-

We are drowning in information these days.  There’s so much information that our eyes glaze over.  

The boards of education of every school district in America are touting the importance of having  information about student attendance, test scores, reading ability, curriculum, assignments, and so on. And everywhere, we see charts, graphs, and tables. How can we keep up?

It’s so easy to put all this information into a pretty chart, but do we really understand it?

A few years ago, I read an interesting article in Wired called The Educational Benefits of Ugly Fonts. They discussed a research study where student volunteers were told to read some information. In one group, the information was easily scanned and read with a clear and legible typeface. In the other group, the same information was presented in an ugly, hard to read font.  The students had to really work at making out what was being said.  

The results?  

Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management

music recital

One of the most difficult things about being a private teacher is organizing performance opportunities for our students. If you’ve never done it before, it can feel extremely overwhelming, to the point where you never end up doing them at all! That’s really unfortunate because if you think back to your music education, I bet you performed a lot.

There is so much that can be learned by performing that by not giving our students a lot of opportunities to perform, we are really holding them back. So how can you get a recital set up? If you have already held recitals in the past, what can you do to make them even better?

1. Charge a Recital Fee

If you already hold recitals and you don’t charge a recital fee, you should really think about it. Even if you have very few costs (I’m sure you have some) it’s going to take some time to set up a recital, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for your time. Do you consider your lesson fee to include the recital fee? I get it, but you’re probably not charging enough to begin with.

How Much to Charge?

The recital fee should typically be charged per student. I always make sure we buy trophies for each student, so it makes sense that each student would have to pay some fee. You should charge at the very least what will cover your costs. Like I said, it’s ok if you charge more because your time is involved in making recitals great as well, but if you’re not charging enough to cover your costs, you’ll find recitals to be a burden and that’s not what they should be.

I’ve done two recitals a year for 7 years now, and I always charge $20/student. I’ve never had one complaint. Each recital has anywhere between 25-30 students. If we were to assume an average recital has 25 students, then you have a $500 budget. As long as you can get a venue for cheap, that can go a long way to making a great recital.
Read more…

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Posted in Studio Management