Music Teacher's Helper Blog

How similar is reading music to reading words? Is playing from written music something like reading a speech or a story out loud? If so, what happens if we read phrase by phrase, or word by word? What does it sound like to play music by phrase, by beat, or note by note?

When someone delivers a speech, it’s more effective to speak from notes, memory or extemporaneously than to simply read a text. Many speakers simulate directness with teleprompters even though they are reading. How does it feel when someone plays music from memory, or improvises, as opposed to reading off a music stand?

We enjoy storytellers and plays, yet we also enjoy having someone read a story or book to us. Which is the best model for music performance, or does it change from one type of music to another?

[Before going on, thanks to Valerie for her comments on memorizing music, and Derek on practicing, both responding to Is Music More Mental or Physical? Also, thanks to John for his survey of cancellations; he’s interested in other people’s figures on that, responding to Lesson Payments and Cancellations.]

And what does this say about learning to read music?  [···]

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We’ve had a lot of teachers ask for a way to upload files that their students can download, such as music, Word documents, etc. So we’re pleased announce the new File Upload Area! We’re allowing several common file types, so you can use it for almost anything, including:

  • mp3 audio recordings of your students’ performances
  • Word documents containing worksheets, assignments, reports, policies, or anything else
  • PDFs of sheet music or exercises for your students to download
  • Pictures of your latest event
  • Movies of your students (although a link to YouTube would take up less space)
  • Much more!

When you upload a file, you can state whether you want it viewable to anyone who visits your studio website (it will be on the “Resources” page, which used to be called “Links”). Or you can specify individual students who should have access to the file after they login.

To upload a file, login to your account, and go to “Students” -> “File Area”. The amount of space you have for uploading depends on the pricing plan you are using. See for more details.

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I just got back from the Texas Music Teacher’s Association Conference and enjoyed meeting the many teachers there. As I was showing them Music Teacher’s Helper, a question I heard asked many times was, “I charge a [$100] fee to my students at the beginning of the year to cover all their books and materials for the whole year, and then deduct whatever I buy in books for them, from that amount.”

The reason some teachers do this is so they don’t have to charge parents a different amount every month if new books are needed, since they’ve already been paid for. If the teachers had used Music Teacher’s Helper from the start, this probably wouldn’t have been such a burden, since it calculates and sends invoices to the student automatically, and if they owe more for a book that month, it already knows that, and adjusts the invoices accordingly. But to make it easier for the parent, some teachers like the simplicity of charging a materials fee.

So, how do you handle this in Music Teacher’s Helper? It’s easy! (Although I did have to do some thinking to figure out the best way to handle this from an accounting standpoint).

  1. First – at the beginning of the year, charge the student your normal materials fee. (Click Billing -> Fees -> Add Fee(s))
  2. Then, when you buy a book for that student, since it is a business expense to you, it will go in your expenses. (Click Billing -> My Expenses. Add a transaction, and for the category, put something like “John Doe Materials”, where John Doe is the student’s name.
  3. Then, when you run your Income & Expense report, you’ll see a categorized list in your expenses for how much you’ve spent on John’s materials. If you want to keep a total of how much you’ve spent on each student, then you’ll create a category for each student you buy materials for, and it will break these out into separate categories in the report.

That’s it! Now you can know if you’re keeping within budget on the materials you purchase for your students. One other thought: If you don’t want to charge the materials fee upfront but just want to charge students for books as you buy them, you’ll want to create two transactions. The first is an “Expense” for when you buy the book, the second is the “Fee” where you charge the student for the book. Just add those two transactions in there, and Music Teacher’s Helper will take care of the rest!

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