Music Teacher's Helper Blog

I’ve heard that many people take a beta-blocker or other drugs to fix stagefright (see the blog article about stagefright for some more musically based ideas), and I know there are gadgets out there to keep a bow on track, play the next note of a tune every time you tap on a drum, show a piano student which keys to press remotely from an online connection, practically play a guitar for you, and so on.

I think it’s time for some more advanced products to help people learn to play musical instruments:

Magnetic Tune Teacher–electromagnets on the playing surface of the instrument are activated based on a programmed piece of music, and magnets in the student’s fingers are drawn to the right place at the right time for the right amount of time, thus teaching their fingers to play the music. Slight drawback is the minor surgery required to insert the finger magnets.

Tune Pills–building on advanced memory research pinpointing the sites and structures in the brain which retain musical patterns, these pills make it a snap for the victim, I mean the student, to learn musical patterns overnight. Just take the proper pill (e.g. “broken thirds going up for three steps, then proceeding down 6 major scale notes”, or “minor scale up 4 steps, dropping a sixth and then back to original note”) and the student will find it simple to learn that particular passage the next morning. Alternatives to these pills are also available but are much more expensive, including hypnosis, and practicing.

Musical Tuneup Juice–no, this isn’t about tuning the instrument, it’s about  [···]

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After several requests, we have created a Repertoire Tracker for you keep track of pieces your students have mastered and are ready to perform. It lets you enter information about each piece such as title, composer, difficulty, length, and comments. Teachers who do frequent recitals or have their students enter competitions will probably find this most useful.

You can access the Repertoire Tracker from the “Students” Menu after logging into your account.

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Below are several situations I’m sure you’ve had to face–about ways to collect lesson payments, including for missed or cancelled lessons–I look forward to your ideas and hope you find these thoughts of interest.

Six or 7 years ago, someone introduced me to the expression, “it’s all about the Benjamins.” I suppose it wasn’t obvious to me because I almost never have an occasion to notice whose face is on the hundred-dollar bill, but yes, it’s Ben(jamin) Franklin.

Business people are sometimes stereotyped as cold-cash-minded, but really, any way you make a living is a business. As in any business, music teachers have to attract and keep students (“customers”), collect money, and pay the bills.

Of course, most musicians don’t go into music thinking “it’s all about the Benjamins.” In fact, popular wisdom says that there’s only one way for a musician to end up with a million dollars: start with 2 million!

But we have to learn about collecting money consistently and with respect, and setting up policies that are reasonable but make for good relations. How would you handle some of these situations?

A student called me today to say her son is sick. Policies say she should pay for his lesson because she gave less than a day’s notice. It did create a hole in my schedule but this parent is ostentatious about her poverty and yet considers lessons important enough to pay for them. Would you charge her for the lesson?

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