Archives for 2019

You are browsing the site archives by date.

Dear fellow music teachers,

I hope you are all having a great summer!

We are approaching the end of July, and can you believe it, the new school year is coming up. Yep, another exciting year of music lessons!

My new studio

This year, I will be implementing some changes to my studio: 

  1. Location – I moved to a new location! The new location has both a studio and a grand living room, where I can hold small recitals/group lessons/parent gatherings.
  2. Instrument – I will be teaching sometimes in the studio, and sometimes in the living room, so students will have the opportunity to get used to playing on a different instrument, rather than the same piano each week. Both pianos are grand pianos.
  3. Policy – I will be more strictly enforcing my policy, especially regarding make ups.
  4. Rates – I will be increasing my fees, as I do every year.
  5. Technology – I will be using more technology in my studio. Currently I subscribe to Piano Maestro, and I will be adding more Theory and Ear Training apps.
  6. Mentorship – I will start a mentorship program where older students will have the opportunity to tutor younger students in Theory as well as help them with practice assignments.
  7. Student programs – I will continue with some of the usual programs my students participate in, but I will also be more active in some others that I believe will be beneficial for their development.
  8. Teacher Coaching – I will start a class for local teachers who would like to improve their teaching skills. I may expand the class to include online participants, so teachers from out of town can join.
  9. Parent Club – I will set a time regularly for parents to come meet one another, ask me questions, and just hang out!
  10. Professional Development – I will schedule time for myself to undertake professional development courses. I always do this anyway, but this year it will be more structured, more goal oriented, and I will schedule more time for myself!

How about you? Are you ready for back-to-school? Are you also going to be implementing changes to your studio? Are there things you have been considering to change but have been reluctant to do so? Do share with us in the comments below!

Read More

A while ago I wrote a blog post about teaching a very special student, Kodi.

Well, it is official – he is going to be on the season premier of America’s Got Talent!! This is the 14th season of the hit show, premiering on Tuesday May 28, 8/7c.

Kodi came to my studio in 2016. I did not have any experience teaching a blind student, and I had very little experience teaching students on the autism spectrum. Kodi is what many may describe as nonverbal. His spoken communication is very limited, but his ability to memorize is absolutely out of this world. He has been declared  a savant – musical genius, and is literally a human jukebox. Whatever song he has not heard of before, he can sing and play back after hearing it just once, and it will stay in his memory!

It still amazes me that I was given the opportunity to work with him. His piano skills have grown from basic chord progressions, to advanced literature such as Mozart Sonatas, Schubert Impromptus, Chopin’s Waltzes, Preludes, Fantaisie Impromptu, and Rachmaninov Preludes. He has performed twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City, as winners of the Golden Classical International Music Competition.

Classical piano is such a specialized field, one that requires extremely high levels of accuracy, polish and detail, unbelievable amount of repetitive work, and then ultimately subjective to individual styles of interpretation. Kodi’s journey has not been without challenges, as detailed in my previous post, but he has made everything he learns his own. It all becomes part of the unique style that is Kodi Lee.

I know Kodi has incredible vocal coaches, who must be so proud. Kodi is proof that we as teachers may just never know what lessons mean to our students, and where they may take them. I am reminded once again to treasure each student and every lesson we have together.

So tomorrow night, tune in and be amazed, as Kodi sings and accompanies himself on the piano, in the season premier of America’s Got Talent. He is going to change the world!

Read More

Guard your MFA, the MBA is invading! The MBA mentality, which today involves doing everything and anything to increase profits, is so revered these days that many believe it’s rational to install business people in government even if they are totally devoid of experience — or interest — in public service. Local school systems successfully argue they can save money through consolidation even though no study since 1980 has indicated that this actually helps any educational (let alone financial) goals in reality. Somehow, when people present themselves as knowledgeable about making or saving money, they become the expert we’re supposed to heed. (In case you think I’m exaggerating about the MBA nowadays, here’s a recent plea to abolish business schools by a long-time business school professor, and one in the Harvard Business Review about why these schools have lost their way — an older article, but little has changed.)

As music teachers, we’ve been hit with lots of MBA-inspired how-to’s — how to make a lot of money by doubling rates to winnow our student list to just the profitable ones, or how to make our job easier by requiring that students sign contracts guaranteeing our income and flexibility regardless of the students’ experience. Maybe you’ve run across other seemingly smart strategies that make you feel like a dummy or a softie if you don’t take them seriously.

Of course, we can all use thoughtful advice on making our businesses run smoothly. Music Teachers Helper’s motto is “You teach! It does the rest!” (It’s NOT “Let us help you soak your students for the most money with the least effort!”) Music Teachers Helper is meant to help us teachers organize the business part of what we do, so that we can focus on the music, the sharing of our skills, the nurturing of our students. There are many articles in this blog which seek to help give business advice to folks who may not have much experience in that side of things, in addition to the many articles encouraging better teaching and understanding of music.

Nobody goes into music for the money. And yet, whether you teach or perform, you find out pretty quickly that  [···]

Read More