I have this running to-do list on my iPhone and at the veeeery bottom of it..
MAKE ASSIGNMENT SHEET.
(It's been there for awhile....)
Now it's done. I got tired of drawing weekly practice boxes now that we award points for practice in our new incentive program for piano students.
The first assignment sheet I made contained typical items like "Assignments", "Practice time", and "Questions/Notes for Teacher". I don't remember what sparked this but I went through and changed everything to start with "I" because I wanted the students to take ownership of their assignments & accomplishments.
Plus, I just think it's more fun & personable for students to fill this out than...."Assignments".
Also notice the word "work" in the assignment sheet ;). It ain't all rainbows and ponies honey. There's a reason for everything on this assignment sheet!
So what are all the different parts of the assignment sheet and the thinking that went behind all of it?
This assignment sheet is MINE!
2014 FreshStart Summer Upgrades!
Buying a Piano
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This past week, a major milestone happened in my life—I officially attended a conference as a piano teacher!
I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a recipient of a full-tuition waiver scholarship to attend the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Lombard, Illinois. Thanks to Dr. Richard Van Dyke from the Cincinnati Music Academy, and Dr. Vanessa Cornett-Murtada, Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of St. Thomas, for my scholarship! I sent them each a thank you letter but despite my sneaky badge peaking of everyone I walked past at the conference I didn’t get a chance to meet and thank them in person.
I convinced my girlfriend Clare (she teaches piano also, in fact, the first time we met was in our piano pedagogy class—she came in late) to take advantage of the super affordable student rates still available to her and come along with me to the conference. However, because we didn’t trust ourselves to behave alone in a hotel room and didn’t want to pay for separate rooms—I dragged my mom to the conference too!
It was an awesome four days surrounded by other piano teachers who are truly passionate about their profession, listening to workshops and master classes by some of the best piano teachers in the world. A couple days in my mom was already asking about coming back for the next conference because we all learned so much.
While at the conference I had the opportunity to meet and chat briefly with a few of the speakers after their workshops:
Kevin Olson, he’s a prolific composer and arranger for FJH Music Company. He talked about the new series of method books that he and his wife wrote and other repertoire that’s out. I also really enjoyed learning about his family and his mission trip when he was in college.
Jane Magrath, she’s got so many volumes and works published with Alfred Publishing that I’m not even going to bother listing them. If you take piano lessons, chances are you’ve played from one of her curated volumes. I think her most indispensible publication for piano teachers is probably the Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature by Jane Magrath (this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I get like a quarter from Amazon if you purchase the book through it but I highly recommend this book for all piano teachers. Even if you don't use this link, you should find and buy it on Amazon).
On one of the last workshops I attended, I met Wendy Stevens! She writes a widely popular blog for piano teachers at www.composecreate.com with lots of essential reading for piano teachers, especially on healthy business practices. You can tell she’s giving invaluable information for teachers because the two workshops she gave were filled and a lot of people lined up afterwards to ask her more questions. I was the last person but she was still kind enough to chat with me despite running short on time to get lunch before catching her plane.
This conference really was a great experience that I feel all piano teachers should have periodically if not regularly. I don’t know how other teachers do it at the conference; going with two other people allowed us to split up and listen/record/take notes at different workshops happening at the same time. If you went by yourself…HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON ONLY ONE WORKSHOP TO GO TO AT A TIME?!
I don't think it's possible, which is why I hope that's a question I never have to answer!
Were you at the conference too? How was your experience? Tell me about it in the comments!
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Guest Post: Why Learning Piano Can Help You Advance As a Guitarist by Joseph Primavera
First order of business, just wanted to wish all the mothers, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Our family is meeting up with my brother and his wife near where they live to eat dinner together and celebrate :)
So in a previous post, I've written about why piano is the best instrument to begin music studies and private lessons with.
You can learn about the different reasons here: Best First Instrument.
Here's a different perspective! A guest post from Joseph Primavera, a guitar teacher and performer in Philadelphia. He brings insight and expertise on the guitar that I don't have and make comparisons between piano and guitar that I've never even thought of; he also points out things about the piano that I've just taken for granted.
FreshStart Piano Studio in Irvine offers piano lessons for beginners between the ages of 4-adults and a fresh start for intermediate & advanced students. Enroll in piano lessons now!