The first time I introduce a chord to my piano students, it’s at the keyboard.

Playing Chords

The problem most younger kids (3 to 7 year olds) have with chords is they just can’t seem to get their fingers coordinated enough to make this sound clear.  So, I usually present it on it’s own as a separate activity weeks before I actually have them use it in a song.

So I show them a C major root position chord first as the outside notes – making a fifth, and then the inner third.  Then putting it all together.  This takes longer than you would think!

After a few weeks of practicing the chord daily so that they can play it 10 times in a row bouncing up and down, we can now move to playing the song Mary Had A Little Lamb.

Reading Chords

Playing piano and reading music are separate skills.  Yes they are interrelated but much less that you would think.  So, weeks later, after the students are playing chords easily, I begin to address chords on the staff.   To do this I tell them a little story and show them a drawing.  I actually draw it right in their notebook in front of them.

There’s always magic seeing something come from nothing!

I tell them that in this magic world of music there are snowmen.  Each note can be stacked on top of each other and this is what they look like.

Root position chords look like a snowman.

Chords-Snowmen

Illustration by Andrew Ingkavet

Play It On the Keys

We then play the chord and notice how our fingers correspond to each ball of the snowman.

Find All The Snowmen In This Piece

I will usually have them look at song and start circling all the “snowmen” they can find.

Chord Inversions

Then later, when we learn other chords, we have other versions of snowmen.

This snowman is stretching his legs!

First inversion (3rd in the bass)

Screenshot 2016-03-23 12.05.13

Play this one.

This snowman is lifting his head and shoulders up!

Second inversion (5th in the bass)

Screenshot 2016-03-23 12.06.47

Play this one too.

The kids think it is very funny and funny is memorable!

And now that Disney has made Olaf a famous snowman (from Frozen), I even can tell them

“Hey look, it’s Olaf!”

What do you use to teach chords?

Any fun stories?  I’d love to hear!

Read More » Comments (0)

Posted in Teaching Tips

Microphone

So you are heading off to your first recording session. What tips can help you achieve a great recording? Even if you are just having fun recording yourself in your bedroom, hopefully, the following tips will help.

Before the recording session
•  If this is your first time being recorded, if you can, visit the studio so as to get familiar with the vocal booth setup to help you relax. Even just looking at the photos on the studio website will help.

•  If you are recording a vocal, get familiar with the words, ideally, memorise them and bring a copy to help the producer follow for accuracy as you record.

•  When you rehearse, check that you only take breaths at the end of sentences to avoid spoiling the flow of the phrases.

•  Focus on your performance. What does the song mean to you? Can you “feel” the emotion as you perform?

•  Head to the session wearing Read more…

photo by:

Read More » Comments (0)

Posted in Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

Create Make-up Credits & Set Make-up Credit Expiration

Sometimes students can’t attend a lesson. With Music Teacher’s Helper, you can choose whether to offer a make-up lesson, issue a cash credit, or continue charging for the lesson. If you offer make-up lessons, here’s how you issue, track and now set make-up lesson credits that expire. 

Instructions:

  1. Set the Make-up Lesson Credit expiration in the Settings page. Click the Drop down arrow in the upper right hand corner, and go to “Settings”.

settings_tab1_001

 

  1. Click on the Studio Settings tab.

studio_settings_tab

 

  1. You can set a time limit for which a make-up lesson credit is valid. If a student doesn’t use the make-up lesson by then, it will expire. Choose the number of days you would like make-up credits to be valid for. If you don’t want the make-up lesson to expire, you can leave this field blank, or enter 0. Click “Submit” on the bottom right to save your changes.        
  2. Click on an event on the calendar that needs a make-up.
  3. Click “Set Attendance”  & check “Issue Credit for this lesson (refund or make-up)”.

set_attendance

 

make_up_credits_1

  1. Check either Issue Make-up Credit or Issue Cash Credit(Refund).
  2. Enter any notes about why you’re issuing this credit.
  3. Click Submit to save your changes.

make_up_credits_2

Manage Your Existing Make-up Credits

  1. To see a list of all your make-up credits, in the main menu, click “Calendar”, then “Make-up Lesson Credits. The expiration date (if there is one) is shown in the results.
  2. You should see an expiry date when you view the make-up lesson credit in the Make-up Lesson Credits page. If you do not see an expiry date, then you have your settings at no expiration.

pasted image 0

 

 

 

 

Read More » Comments (0)

Posted in New Features and Fixes

When a Group Class Goes Off Course

By Robin Setinweg

What do you do when a group class goes off course?

“It couldn’t. It wouldn’t!” you say. Well, after successful group classes for years, it happened. And it was probably all my fault.

What was I thinking? Spring weather had just begun. That makes squirrely kids. It was right before spring break. That makes kids mega-squirrely. I made it a pizza party. That brings in higher numbers. And—here’s the biggie—I did not recruit help. I didn’t make sure any older students were attending. So I had oodles of young ones, and no older ones with whom to pair them up. Yikes.

It started great. I had three pizzas cooked ahead. I cut them to give my young learners a visual of whole notes, half notes, quarters, and eighths. They had to ask for the number of eighths they wanted to eat, and tell me how many quarter notes they took, or dotted quarter, etc. (nobody got a whole note!). But then the fun started.

Without supervision.

I was kept busy putting pizzas in, taking them out, cutting them and pouring beverages. So the party became quite noisy and full of high spirits. They weren’t naughty or ill-behaved—these are good kids! Just over-the-top energy and behavior. Which meant it was nearly impossible to get them back.

I had learning games planned. I swapped one in to quiet them down. I played a CD, and they were to draw how it made them feel. I spent the next 10 minutes answering questions like, “Can I draw the London Bridge?” and comments like, “Did you know the London Bridge was moved to (some city here in the States) in (some year I missed)?”

When the quiet music time became noisy due to high spirits, and I astutely realized this was not accomplishing the quiet mood I’d thought it would, I moved on to another game.

I think, by the final game, some music facts sank in. I had four chairs set up, with students on them. Each was a quarter note. We counted them. Remove one or more, the counting stays the same, because after all, rests take as much space up as notes (the chair is still there, simply unoccupied). They needed to decide how to make a half note, whole note, dotted half. Only one student was tall enough to lie across all four chairs to make that whole note.

I know they had fun, and they got the point through some games. But I also know I was done-in. I should have had help. I hope to help you avoid “when a group class goes off course.”

Have you ever had a group go amiss? Can you laugh about it now? Comments welcome!

Read More » Comments (2)

Posted in Music Theory, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

I tried a new way of organizing my lesson planning this year which has kept me more on track. It involves just three basic pieces: a small plastic box, 8×5 index cards, and tab dividers. (I have included links for similar items on Amazon.com, but I got all my supplies at Walmart.)Lesson Box, cards

Here are ways you can use your box:

Student Lesson Plans Tabs:

Put each student’s name on a tab divider. You can organize them alphabetically, or by lesson schedule. Write each student’s lesson plan on a new 8×5 card each week. I also include the date, the time of their lesson, and any unusual circumstances, such as a makeup lesson. Keep the most current card in the front, right behind their name tab.

You can write the next lesson plan out on a new card right after a lesson, any time during the intervening week, or the day of the next lesson, using the previous week’s card and notes as a guide. Writing out a plan doesn’t mean that you will stick to it exactly, but it gives you an overview of what you should try to cover. During the lesson, you can also jot notes to yourself on this card, and check off things you covered in the lesson. I review the lesson plans at the beginning of the day and get out any games and props I will need that afternoon.Lindas card

It can also be helpful to put a “master list” card in the very front of each student’s tab, with a list of general things you would like to teach the student this year. Check this list every so often as you make your lesson plans to be sure you are meeting your big goals for the student. This is a great place to write down the student’s goals too.

Teaching Tips Tabs:

Add teaching tips tabs behind the students’ tabs for skills such as scales, arm weight, posture, phrasing, and such. You could have just one tab that says Teaching Tips for all your ideas, or you can have a tab for each separate skill area. Write out any helpful hints you come across for teaching these skills on an index card. You could have cards for scales, blues chords, jazz scales, modes, historical eras, improvisation, one-hand ideasperformance prep, and so on. The possibilities are endless. Make these very concise—just notes that will help you remember all the important points. This would be a great project to expand upon after attending a conference, so you don’t lose all those new ideas in a folder somewhere at the bottom of a closet. You can also fold an 81/2 x 11 paper in half and trim two edges so it will fit in the with 8 x 10 cards. This can save recopying information. I also trim card stock to fit the box on which I have printed out helpful hints or graphics. I love having teaching notes and tips available right by the piano, instead of having to run to the other room and look in my file cabinet.Practice Box

“Wing It” Days Tabs:

Use this section when a student shows up with no books, or is having a bad day. Make cards full of ideas for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students that can be done with no preparation, but will be educational and fun. If you have a lot of ideas, put one idea on each card. If you need less to go on, just make three cards, one for each level. Be sure to include directions to games, and where to locate the supplies quickly.

Extra Cards and Tabs:

Keep extra tabs and index cards in the back of the box so you can access them quickly. With a full studio and lots of teaching tips, you may need to give students and teaching tips each their own box.

If this sounds interesting, give it a try! I would love to hear your comments below about how you organize your lesson planning.

 

Read More » Comments (1)

Posted in Studio Management

breaking mental barriers teaching music

Research shows that playing music involves the firing of neurons in multiple areas of the brain at once.  (See my previous post on this.)  And yet many, if not most, learners, and I would venture to say most teachers as well, emphasize verbal and conscious control in the playing of a musical instrument.

I suspect that this emphasis on control not only hinders the musicality and facility of students, but also places improvisation and learning by ear out of the box, as if they’re difficult or unusual.

If the brain fires in many places at once, then clearly the verbal and executive centers are not all there is to playing music.  Is it possible for teachers to help nurture the nonverbal and subconscious activity that is essential to playing music? Read more…

Read More » Comments (0)

Posted in Music Theory, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

savvymainbannerweb

The Savvy Musician in Action

Have you heard of it before? It’s an immersive, experiential week-long workshop designed to help artists and increase income and impact. 

The entrepreneurship workshop is brought to you by cutting edge David Cutler, author of  The Savvy Musician and a brand new book, The Savvy Music Teacher. In a nutshell, it is perhaps an event like none other. I’ve been to plenty of conferences but this seems truly unique. Read more…

Read More » Comments (1)

Posted in Financial Business, Professional Development, Studio Management

Google Analytics gives you insights on how visitors find and use your site. It shows which pages of your site are the most popular, how long people are staying there, how people are finding your site, and other statistics.

If you have a Google Account you can activate the service for Analytics using these instructions. If you do not have a Google Account, it’s easy and free to sign up by clicking here.

When you sign up for Google Analytics, you’re given a unique tracking ID called a UA-Number. To use Google Analytics with your Music Teacher’s Helper Studio Website, simply enter this number into your Music Teacher’s Helper Settings page.

Find Your Analytics UA-Number

To find the tracking code, tracking ID, or property number in your Analytics account:

  1. Sign in to your Analytics Account.  http://www.google.com/analytics
  2. Select the Admin tab.
  3. Select an account from the dropdown list in the ACCOUNT column.
  4. Select a property from the dropdown list in the PROPERTY column.
  5. Under PROPERTY, click Tracking Info > Tracking Code.

Google Analytics for music teachers

You’ll now see the complete Google Analytics code for your site near the top of the page. Select the tracking ID (#3 below), starting with “UA”, and add it to your Music Teacher’s Helper Website Settings page.

In Music Teacher’s Helper, click the profile icon in the upper right hand corner, then click “Settings”. Select the “Website Preferences” tab and scroll down until you see “Add Your Google Analytics Code”. Paste in the UA-Number code (#3). Once saved, all pages of your studio website will now be linked with your Google Analytics account.

 

Now you have successfully linked your Google Analytics account to your Music Teacher’s Helper account. Once Google begins collecting data about your site (which can take up to 24-48 hours), you’ll be able to view your traffic statistics from your Google Analytics page.

If you have any questions, please contact us at support@musicteachershelper.com.

Read More » Comments (1)

Posted in New Features and Fixes, Using Music Teacher's Helper

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the act of helping your website rank well in search engines for specifics words or phrases, called “keywords”.

You’ll place these keywords in the content of your website or blog to help people find you. For example, you might title one of your web pages, “violin lessons in San Diego” or “advanced harp teacher”. You could then use those keywords periodically throughout the page.

Overloading a page with keywords is not looked upon highly by search engines, but if you write content that a person would find useful, then search engines will likely rank it higher, too.

Another way to increase your search engine rankings is by having your website or pages shared on social media, or getting other relevant websites to link to yours.

Under each page of your Music Teacher’s Helper studio website, you can also enter meta keywords and a page description. These can help search engines know what keywords you intend to be found under, and can help the search engines know how to describe your page to visitors.

To Enter Keywords and Descriptions:

First, click on the Profile dropdown arrow in the upper right corner.

Next click on Settings.

image00

Then click the Website Preferences tab.

 

Add Keywords into the Box below Website Meta Keywords. This will be one word followed by a comma for each word you want to use. Typically it’s better to use 5-10 words, such as the instrument(s) you teach with the word “lessons” and your location such as city and neighborhood. 

Lastly, enter Descriptions for Website Meta Description. Descriptions will be for each page of your website such as blog, website, policy, etc.

You’re all set! If you have any questions about this feature or anything else, please contact support@musicteachershelper.com.

Read More » Comments (1)

Posted in New Features and Fixes, Promoting Your Studio, Using Music Teacher's Helper

As a music teacher, how often do you think about the difference you’re making in your students’ lives? I believe that the influence a teacher can have on a student is profound, not just in the content or skills being taught, but in the way we connect and interact with each other as human beings.

Sometimes lessons can be challenging. If a student didn’t practice – or even worse, doesn’t want to be there – it can be difficult to see beyond their corresponding behavior or attitudes to the valuable and beautiful person in front of us. But when we do see this – what a difference it can make! Not only can it affect the flow of the lesson, but also the life of the student. And this applies to motivated and positive students, too.

An Inspiring Teacher

I have three daughters, ages 12, 10, and 4. Recently, we all started taking harp lessons as a family. It’s a beautiful instrument – one that makes a lovely sound even for beginners. At today’s lesson, we received a lot more than harp instruction. Our sweet teacher, Annemieke, chatted with us about life, positive thinking, and encouraged us to enjoy the pace and practice level we’re comfortable with. As we departed, she gave each of us a warm and tender hug that helped us feel like beloved friends.

Now, hugs may not be your style, and that’s okay. You have your own ways of bringing a little more happiness into the world through your studio. These are the things Annemieke did that left us feeling uplifted, and more endeared not only to her, but to the instrument we’re studying.

How Are YOU Making a Difference?

Have you identified the things you do that make a positive difference (whether big or small) in the lives of your students? Not only in their musical skill, but in how they feel about themselves, and how they enjoy their lives as a whole? Is there a particular student you’ve seen blossom under your eyes? Or a connection you’ve made with a student that warmed your heart? Have you ever received a student’s gratitude for the difference you’ve made in their life?

If so, I’d love to hear about it! I think it’s important to remind ourselves and each other in the music teaching community of the influence we do have in the lives of the people we call our students. This awareness naturally inspires us to become better teachers. Taking time to write about it can also help you become more clear about why you’re teaching, and the ways you’d like to make a difference moving forward.

Share Your Story

I invite you to share your story now with the Music Teacher’s Helper community here in the blog comments, or on our Facebook page. Or if you prefer, share how your teacher made a difference in your life. I look forward to hearing about the ways our members are connecting with and inspiring students in both big and little ways.

Thank you for the great work that you do.

Warm wishes and happy teaching!

Brandon Pearce, CEO
Music Teacher’s Helper

family-snow-05760

Read More » Comments (0)

Posted in Teaching Tips