Encore: when performers return to the stage to give an additional performance!

“Encore” is also a great title for a new series of four music books bursting with favourite exam pieces for piano (and violin). Hold on! Did you just say exam pieces? Boring!

Not so. Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve had great pleasure in playing through these books for not only myself but also with the purpose of testing them out as possible material for my pupils. I have to say that the choices of repertoire are excellent. There is a real mix of styles and although not ever song “floated my boat,” the vast majority were very usable, a handful getting me really excited! Read more…

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Posted in Music News, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

Hi everyone. This week several updates were done in the background by our development team to keep the software running smoothly. In addition, there have been minor updates and fixes to the Android app with ones to the iOS app coming shortly.  

  • New Feature: Make Private Calendar Events – A small but big change! You can create a private event from the Add New event button in the calendar tab. That way, you can prevent a student from requesting a lesson during a time you are busy like a dentist appointment in the middle of the day or if you’re meeting with a prospective student that isn’t added to your Student List yet.
  • Updated: Studio Sites to use HTTPS – Information is now more securely sent when a registration form and other data is submitted on studio your site using SSL certificates. SSL (that extra “s” on HTTP) is used to better encrypt the transmitted information over websites.

Google also prefers more secure sites, therefore Google gives a ranking advantage in search engines to secure HTTPS websites. This helps your website show up when someone types in your studio, or music lessons and your geographic location.

You won’t need to change the way you type your studio address into web browsers. Any proper typing of your website will automatically direct to the more secure HTTPS.

  • Fixed: When using bulk email, it now only sends to the student list shown. For some teachers it was previously sending to all students, including Former students.

Let us know if you have any questions by reaching out to support@musicteachershelper.com. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

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

 

Hi everyone. We’re moving along with the billing updates, which will make the billing system more intuitive and easy to use, as well as more powerful. More news on that in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, have you been using the Music Teacher’s Helper app? If not, here are a few reasons to give it a try!

  1. There’s no extra cost to you. Once you download the app, enter your existing login information and all of your account information will appear. Data syncs immediately, so when you makes changes in the app, it will appear right away from other devices you login from.
  2. Your phone is almost always near you so use the app to view your calendar, manage students, and much more. The app has almost the full capabilities of the desktop version.
  3. Do more! Here are features that are only available through the mobile app:
  • GPS mileage tracking
  • Push notifications
  • Thumb TouchID signin
  • Import your contact list
  • Metronome app
  • You or your students can record audio and video

To download the app, search Music Teacher’s Helper from your iPhone’s or Android’s app store or click the respective links if you’re on your mobile device.  

Enjoy and happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

A recital can set a fire in the hearts of students and audience. There aren’t many opportunities to showcase students of every level. So… make it more than a recital.

My sister makes magical music recitals. She’s given me permission to share some of her ideas.

Here are a few features of each.

  • Costumes
  • Props
  • Sets–here are some photo ideas
  • Ensembles
  • Extra instruments and vocals
  • Audience involvement
  • Variety
  • Humor whenever possible

If it seems intimidating, start small. Even simply naming a theme can create anticipation. It’s a great way to promote your studio.

In each of my next few MTH posts, I’ll detail a different recital of my sister’s, including a few songs. This first idea she calls “Holidays and Seasons.”

Each month is its own segment, with appropriate songs featured. There may not be a holiday that month, but people are born all the time. So every month includes “Happy Birthday,” done in twelve different genres. Anyone in the audience whose birthday falls in that month is invited to stand. Genres might include classical, march, swing, bluegrass, blues, waltz, video game, mariachi, 50s, Celtic, tango, calypso, polka, guitar ballad…

Here are a few songs for each month to get you started.

January. Jingle Bells/It’s a Marshmallow World/Let it Snow/Auld Lang Syne

February. I Heart You/When I Fall in Love/Won’t You Be My Valentine

March. St. Patrick’s Jiggle/Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Dance of the Irish

April. Billy Bunny/Easter Bonnet/April Showers/April Love

May. A Child’s Song of Love/M-O-T-H-E-R/flower songs/vet-honoring songs…

June. You’re a Grand Old Flag/wedding songs…

July. Patriotic songs/In the Good Old Summertime

August. By the Sea, By the Sea/Summertime/School Days

September. The Falling Leaves/autumn songs/Whistle While You Work

October. Funeral March of a Marionette/Halloween songs/Spunky Spooks

November. Thanksgiving songs/Over the River and Through the Woods/autumn and harvest songs…

December. Carol of the Bells/Believe (from Polar Express)/Where Are You, Christmas? (from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)/Christmas songs/ Hanukkah songs…

Students can dress for the month they represent. You might create props or cardboard sets. For example, August could have a beach umbrella, beach towel, pail and plastic shovel, with a painted backdrop of ocean and sand. Students are responsible to set up for each other. To keep it running tight time-wise, one student could introduce the next, operating as emcee, while a couple remove props from the previous student, and others follow with the next props.

Hold a tech rehearsal to get the details/timing worked out.

My sister has colorful posters carried out for each month and placed on an easel.

She uses this recital format every other year, alternating with a strictly Christmas theme. There is so much music to choose from!

Do you have other ideas for a “Holiday and Seasons” recital? MTH readers would love to hear them!

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Posted in Performing, Promoting Your Studio

We hope everyone’s week is going great. Here are a few improvements now available in Beta:

  • Start/End Dates for Rate Packages – It’s here! We added the ability to create start and end calendar dates when creating rate packages. You can link up your billing length with the start and end dates of your busiest times, such as your students’ school year dates. This is also useful in monthly billing for determining the day of the month you want students to be charged. For more details on using the new Rate Packages, please read this knowledge base article.
  • Multiple Email Attachments  – Now, you can attach more than one email when sending emails.

Have a great rest of the week and happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

 

Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life.  

At this time of the year, most people are fresh off the holidays and have set goals or are still setting them.  The thing is, many people over estimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in three.  If you haven’t done your goal setting, here’s a great process from one of my mentors.

In today’s article, I want to help guide you to making this your best year ever.

So how do you make your goals and dreams come true?

How do we stay the course through all the stresses, worries, distractions, problems and stuff which just gets in the way?  

Finite Resources

It’s now known we have a finite amount of mental focus.  So in reality, it’s the freedom to focus on what’s important which will exponentially change our lives.
I’ve battled this my whole life.  I’ve used all kinds of goal-setting workshops, techniques, books, planners and apps.  What was missing in my experience of all of these tools?

Focus 

My focus tended to waver.  I would get excited by the next shiny object and jump.  Actually, any planning system, whether it’s old school paper, or a modern digital app will work.  It’s all about sticking with it.  

Chet Holmes describes it as “pigheaded discipline and determination.”  Chet was a fantastic sales guy, author, mentor, coach and a martial artist.  And what is martial arts?  A few moves repeated and perfected until effectiveness is through the roof.  


As legendary kung fu master Bruce Lee says,

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

So let’s talk about how to focus on your goals.   

This is what you are teaching to your music students everyday!  Through showing, modeling and breaking down the art of practice, you are teaching the skills of focus.  So now let’s apply this to your life and business of teaching.

Let’s say you have a goal to increase your student roster by 10 students by the end of the year.  

Okay, now you have to decide what actions to take to achieve this.  You have to figure out what to focus on.  

The Power of Questions

The most powerful tool to focus the mind is questions.  

Questions cause your mind to focus wherever the question leads.  Ask a great questions, you are led to great answers.  Ask a poor question, then you get the same results.  So it’s all about the quality, not the quantity of your questions.

Novice Zen Buddhist monks are given a question they live with for weeks, months, years.  These questions or koans are logically unanswerable.  But the focus created by the constant searching creates a pearl of wisdom and leads to enlightenment.

The quality of your life ultimately is based on the quality of your questions.  Over the years, I’ve become better in my lines of questioning.  

But one tool which has helped me greatly is the mindmap.  The mindmap has also been called a cluster by some.  It’s basically a way of accessing non-linear thinking the way the mind really works.  In computer terms, they call this RAM, or random-access memory.  

An old VHS videotape is linear and sequential.  You cannot easily jump from one part of the tape to the other.  A DVD however is random-access.  You can jump from one chapter to the last chapter to the middle of a film instantly.  The human brain is non-linear.

Here’s an exercise

Write the phrase “How to get more students?” in the center of a blank piece of paper.  

Circle it.  

Now, as quickly as possible, and without any editing, write down as many ideas as you can and draw spokes from the center outward.

I’ve been using an online tool called Mindmeister.  It  creates mindmaps I’ve grown to love.  It allows me to move things around, edit and reorganize which I couldn’t do on paper.

 

Here’s an example of a mindmap you can download at Mindmeister.

How to get more students mindmap

The trick is to get past the 5 or 6 obvious ideas and really push to get at least 10.  Or try to go for 20 ideas.  That would be a great stretch!

Make sure to put down even the most ridiculous and unrealistic ideas.  These may not be doable, but they may open the door to other ideas.  I call these stepping stone ideas.  You step over them to really great ones.

Even better, do this exercise with a friend.  Your friend’s ideas may be so far out they lead you to an unexpected gem.

You can learn more about mindmaps from the great books by Tony Buzan.  Just Google mindmapping and lateral thinking.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the personal development coach Tony Robbins.

“Most people fail in life because they major in minor things.”

So make sure you’re majoring in the major things of your life!  Otherwise, at this time next year it will be just the same ol’, same ol’.

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Posted in Professional Development

We hope everyone’s week is going great. If you haven’t seen it in your inbox, don’t miss our first newsletter of 2017. Here are a few upcoming improvements currently being work on:

  • Make Private Calendar Events – A small but big change! The student field will become optional and when left blank, blocks out time on your calendar for personal events. That way, you can prevent a student from requesting a lesson during a time you are busy like a dentist appointment in the middle of the day or if you’re meeting with a prospective student, that isn’t added to your Student List yet.
  • Embed the Registration Form on Your Other Websites – Soon, you’ll be able to add a new student registration form on any website you own. Currently, you can place a login form on any site you own for existing students and parents. Some members add the login form to their personal teaching site or if they choose to use another site for their studio instead of a Music Teacher’s Helper website theme. The registration form will work exactly the same as the one on the studio website associated with your account.  
  • Start/End Dates for Rate Packages – In last week’s announcement, we described how to customize rate packages in Beta mode. We’re adding the ability to create start and end calendar dates for a specific package. This will be helpful for special circumstances and provide more flexibility in how you bill your students.

That’s it for this week. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

We hope that you’ve had a chance to check out Beta mode and experience the new features. Let us know what you think so far by clicking the Feedback tab on the right hand side when logged into Beta. If you haven’t had a chance to switch over but want to see all that’s included, please reference this support article, which is updated when new features are added.

Also, it’s now easier to keep up with these weekly announcements straight from your main dashboard. The Latest Blog Articles section at the bottom of your dashboard now shows these weekly updates and other announcements in one tab, and all other blog articles in another. The selected header is shown in blue. Clicking on the header switches over to the other section.

 

Get to Know the Beta Features: More Customizable Rate Packages

This improvement was announced already, but we want to make sure you know about it and where to find the tutorial.

With the new rate packages, you have greater flexibility and customization in how you charge your students and update your rates for multiple students at once. Rather than only being able to charge per lesson or a flat fee, under the new rates feature you will be able to set up rate packages to:

  • Bill hourly, weekly, monthly, or by semester
  • Charge for a series of lessons (a set amount for a certain number of lessons that you specify)
  • Bill up front in a lump sum or pro-rate the amount over the rate package
  • Choose to receive a reminder to reschedule a student when they are nearing the end of the lessons they paid for

All of this will be managed from one easy place in your Settings so you can create, edit and remove rate packages as needed and then assign each student a particular rate package that meets both their needs and schedule as well as yours.

For full instructions and how to use for new versus existing students, please reference this support article.

That’s it for this week. We’ll have more information on the latest beta changes for you next week. Happy teaching!

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Posted in New Features and Fixes

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