I have been using Music Teachers Helper to support my music teaching business since 2008.  Its  exciting to see the changes over the years which add to it’s effectiveness as my office support.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank MTH for being innovative in listening to the needs of its customers and for  providing us with what we need to make our job easier. What music teacher wants to spend time on scheduling and bookkeeping when we could be searching for music and creating an exciting environment for our students?

This is the first article in a series of how I use MTH creatively, in ways perhaps not intended by the software itself. If you look back on my previous blogs you will see that is my forte (no pun intended).

MTH calendar showing NO LESSON days

MTH calendar showing NO LESSON days

Customer questions about schedule around the holidays

As easily accessible as is the MHT calendar, I get numerous emails from students asking about the days no lesson will be held as we approach holidays. These questions come despite the web calendar and email reminders about days lessons will not be held. [···]

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Based on a Novel Idea by Wendy Stevens.

In her recent website newsletter, Wendy Stevens described a holiday project she designed. She asked her piano students to learn the theme of the “Jingle Bell” chorus and create a variation. Each arranger was filmed debuting his/her arrangement and made into a lovely video.

Fortunately, Wendy shares her marvelous teaching ideas and inspirations on her unique website Subscribing to her free newsletter provides me with numerous ideas and resources. I must give full credit to her for the subject of this blog and am so thankful to find her as a continual resource of inspiration.

The Plot

When preparing for the upcoming holiday recital, lesson time can be zapped by ironing out wrinkles in performance pieces or drilling the performance etiquette routine. Little time is left for covering new concepts or new pieces. This calls for an assignment that captures the students’ attention, challenges their creativity and that can be accomplished in a short amount of time.

 The Production

The following steps were taken to prepare students:

1) A lead sheet featuring the melody and chord symbols was reviewed. Early level students were provided with a simple LH version.

2)  For inspiration, students were asked to listen to Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman” and follow along with the score. Next they watched the youtube video of Wendy’s students. (As I offer 30-minute lessons with a 30-minute lab time, this was assigned during the lab time and did not take away from lesson time.) [···]

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As I write this blog entry, I realize that it was about a year ago that I joined this wonderful Music Teachers Helper community. My first article here was “Time to plan the Holiday Recital” – it is that time of the year again!

Over the years, I have come across a great variety of holiday music for students. My favorites include: Music for Little Mozarts Little Mozarts Perform the Nutcracker, Famous and Fun Christmas by Carol Matz, Christmas Jazz, Rags & Blues by Martha Mier, and Especially Popular Christmas by Dennis Alexander – all of which feature fantastic arrangements of some of the most popular holiday classics. They are carefully graded to suit different student levels, musically appealing, and provide a good deal of pedagogical merits.

While I always enjoy teaching holiday music to my students and playing the teacher duet parts, every now and then I want to play those beautiful, familiar tunes, too! There are countless Christmas songbooks out there, but many of them are collections for voice/guitar/piano. I am not a big fan of these fakebook-style anthologies – the piano part is usually not very pianistically written, either it is too simple and boring, or it is awkward with big leaps and stretches. I want pianistic, musical solos that sound sophisticated, have a bit of an improvisational nature, do not sound juvenile, and are “showy” enough to play for friends and family! This year, I have found three books that fit the bill! [···]

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