Music Teacher's Helper Blog

One day last week, I calmly listened as a woman told me how her son had come to “choose” the clarinet as his instrument. I didn’t let on that I felt a bit stunned. The boy’s music teacher at school had lined up all the kids and told them which instrument they were physically suited for. This boy had been told he had a “clarinet mouth.”

This sounds a bit like Harold Hill in The Music Man (“you have the perfect little finger for the Eb flugelhorn!”). Of course, it’s nothing new. I remember a woman who said she was told she’d never be able to play violin because her little finger wasn’t made right. Somewhat in the same vein, I had a fiddle student whose classical teacher kept trying to switch her to viola because she was “too big” for the violin. (Through fiddle music, this girl continued playing violin and later majored in music in college.)

How should people choose an instrument? How should school music teachers distribute instruments? Let us know your observations by adding a comment at the end of this article.

Someone told me once that the instrument chooses the player, rather than the other way around. However it happens, it’s hard to imagine a good choice being made without some hands-on exposure to the instruments. With this in mind, I’ve set up a summer day camp for kids to hear and try all the instruments. It’s called “Meet the Instruments.” [···]

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MTNA TorontoWe just got back from this year’s Music Teachers National Association Conference in Toronto, Canada. We had a great time talking with all the teachers there and showing them how Music Teacher’s Helper can help them manage the business-side of running a private studio. Teachers really lit up when we mentioned how they get their own website with it where students can login to check schedules, and that it could MTNA Booth Showingautomatically email their students reminders before each lesson and event, and lesson notes after each event. The idea of automatic invoicing and online credit card payments was also very popular, as well as the lending library, since teachers tend to lose so many books that way.

MTNA BoothWe really appreciate everyone who stopped by our booth to talk to us and check out our program. We handed out brochures like crazy so hopefully the word will continue to spread. We’ll be announcing the winner of the Free Portable DVD Player Giveaway shortly.

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Thanks to Toby and Tina for comments this week on Collecting the Benjamins (about collecting student payments), and to Steven for comments on last week’s survey of sites connecting students and teachers.  I agree with Steven that ads vary from day to day and place to place, so I have revised one survey listing which was based entirely on ads.  (By the way, I take responsibility for all my own comments in this blog!)

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A very up-to-date downeast Maine minister, whom I interviewed for his daring World War II experiences, introduced me to Audacity–a free music program that can provide some very nice benefits for music teachers.

(Note that Audacity is not at audacity.com; it is at this link, in case you’d like to check it out.  The download is free, and available for Windows, Mac, Linux and other systems.  It is open-source, much like Linux and Mozilla.)

With Audacity, you can record anything your computer can play–from a CD, a website, a microphone, anything–into a sound file of its own, which you can then manipulate in a ridiculous number of ways.

For example, you can slow any portion of the recording down without changing the pitch–great for transcribing tricky passages.  You can also  [···]

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