Be Our Guest: How to Begin Teaching Piano in Groups

photoI’m excited to introduce our April guest blogger to you today. Dorla Aparicio recently started a group piano teaching blog, www.grouppianoteaching.com. If you have ever thought about teaching piano lessons in a group setting, you will definitely want to subscribe to her blog. There are already some great posts to read and I predict many more in the future! Dorla will be sharing her tips and tricks for getting started in group teaching. Enjoy her post below…


There are many aspects of a private piano lesson that can be transferred to a group setting, however you should not think of a group lesson as 6 mini private lessons in one hour; that idea just defeats the purpose of having a group!

Let’s say you have a group of beginners ages 7 – 8 that you would like to teach at the same time and you only have one grand piano in your studio. Can this be done? Definitely. If you have a keyboard for each student you can follow the same ideas listed below.

If this is your first time teaching piano in groups you will need to remember to be very organized until the flow of the activities are a part of your teaching DNA and then you will find that it will be easier to make changes.

Here is a suggestion of a lesson plan for your first group piano lesson:

Method BookPiano Pronto Prelude (or any beginning piano method you prefer). If you choose Prelude I highly recommend purchasing the ebook for each student and the teacher duet book for you. Purchasing ebooks for the students allows you to have control of the pace of the class. Print each book which you have purchased separately and keep each in its own manila envelope. Each student should also have a 3 ring binder and at the beginning of each class you add only the pieces that you have planned for your lesson. (I learned this brilliant idea from Mayron Cole 20+ years ago!)

Piano worksheets (such as those from www.funandlearnmusic.com)

Instrument – One acoustic piano or digital keyboard for each student.

Other – pencils, table and chairs for students or rug space.

At The Rug/Table (5-6 min) – Greet students as they enter the classroom and direct them to a spot on the rug or at a table which has their binder with the pieces to be learned at this first lesson, I suggest pages 1 – 11. (If using individual keyboards take this time to assign them a keyboard and show them how to turn it on/off and to control the volume.

KeyboardAt The Piano Keyboard (10 min) – 2 and 3 black keys (p. 1 and bottom of p. 7) at this point the students are not using their books. You are teaching this introduction as you normally do. Before moving to the next step make sure they can find C on their own. Any C. Before moving on to the next activity have students find a C and play it as you accompany them with a duet (you can use duet for My First Steps or make up your own)

GameGame Time (15 min) – Use any game board you have to review the 2 and 3 black keys, and for introducing Rhythm on page 3 (note values). Allow everyone to answer questions as a group, then let everyone roll the die individually and advance on the game board – this should help keep the flow of the game moving along.

PianoGameAt The Piano Keyboard (5 min) – Now go back to the piano, review where to find C and possibly add D and E so that you can teach them how to play the first three songs. Don’t be too concerned about them playing specific keys with specific fingers. That will be learned next week!

GroupPianoIndividual Practice at the Piano Keyboard (7-10 min) – If you only have one acoustic piano take this time to work with each student individually. Students not working with you go back to the rug/table and complete the worksheets you prepared. However, even if each child is working at his/her keyboard with headphones on, this is when you make sure each one understands how to play at least one of the pieces assigned. Each student will probably finish at different intervals and can then complete the worksheets at the rug/table.

drumsRhythm Ensemble – (5-7 min) this part of the lesson is a flexible time that may include drumming, dancing, movement stories or playing the piano out loud as an orchestra. For this first lesson I would recommend a fun activity such as Rhythm Cup Explorations.

Parent Time – (10 min) I invite parents to join the last 10 minutes of class so they are aware of what the student learned and mark the assignment for next week. No assignment book is necessary if you hand out a different colored pencil each week and have the parents circle the page numbers.

And there it is! Your first group piano lesson! Each part of the lesson and the materials may be substituted, and at the same time each part must remain for at least 4 weeks in order to establish a routine of excellence for your class.

Questions? Email me at dorla@missdorla.com.

Disclaimer – any links mentioned in this post were used because of the success I have had with the product in my studio. I am not being paid to use this materials in my studio.


DorlaDorla Pryce Aparicio, M.M., (or MissDorla, as her students affectionately call her) has been teaching early childhood music, private and group piano for more than 30 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Piano Performance at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico and a Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

After six years as Early Childhood Music Coordinator at TCU’s Music Preparatory Division she continues to maintain a full teaching schedule with over 50 students in her private studio, and as adjunct music instructor at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

MissDorla is a member of MTNA AND NGPT and enjoys networking with other music teachers around the country. She is married to Jose, who attends every recital with a smile. Together, they have one son, who is also one of her star piano students. Dorla has also started a middle school that caters to families who desire a more friendly and academically rigorous environment.

Be Our Guest: Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, Oh My!

photoI’m really excited to introduce our guest this month. Sarah Lyngra will be blogging about online lessons. She has a lot of experience in this so you will want to read her post! Also I would highly recommend her online course available at TeachPianoOnline.com. The course, Create Effective Lesson Make-up Videos in 45 Minutes or Less was very helpful as I started doing make-up video lessons this year. (See blog post here.) There were several tips that I learned that I hadn’t thought of. Sarah has more courses in the works so check back often! And be sure to sign up for her newsletter! Thank you for being our guest for October Sarah!

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Skype, Facetime, Hangouts Oh My! A beginners guide to online lesson tech.

Have you wanted to teach online lessons but didn’t know how to get started because of the technology? If this is you, read on. If you are comfortable with technology, read on anyway. The people you may be teaching in the future may not be.

The basic setup for online lessons is fairly simple and straightforward. Both the teacher and the student need a piano, a computer, a chat program, and an internet connection. That’s it.

If life were only that simple, right? Actually, in this case, it is.  The tech setup isn’t really much more than those four things.

Here’s a little bit about each of these things.

Your instrument

For effective online lessons, having an instrument is important, but honestly, from a sound standpoint, having an electronic instrument, in most cases will be perfectly adequate. Often students who are taking lessons online are living overseas where having an acoustic instrument may not be an option.

The sound quality of your lessons is more a function of your internet connection and the sound quality of your speakers than the instrument. When you are teaching you are giving a visual demonstration of your actions, not a tactile one. You can demonstrate good technique on an electronic instrument, even if the weighting of the keys is not like that of an acoustic one.

In a perfect world, everyone would have acoustic pianos, however, online teachers are dealing with the virtual world. Students receiving online lessons often in the position of having online lessons or no lessons at all, and as teachers, we should respect that.

Your computer

Computers come in all shapes and sizes these days. If you are over the age of 20, the technology we have available to us is completely different than when we were kids. After all, the iPad has only been around since 2010!

For basic online lessons, does it really matter what kind of computer or tablet you are using? Not really. Unless you are planning on using Internet Midi for your lessons (which is awesome, but beyond the scope of just getting started) any computer or tablet will do. I wouldn’t recommend using an iPod, iPhone, or smart phone as their screens are very small and lessons would be frustrating for both you and your students.

Your chat program

What is  important is that you and your student are on the same page with which chat program you are using. The three most common programs in use today are Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts.

The best article I have seen to date comparing the 3 services is by Abigail Ornellas: http://info.groveis.com/blog/bid/199764/3-way-battle-Google-Hangouts-Vs-Skype-Vs-Facetime It goes into detail about the pluses and minuses of all 3 very eloquently.

Personally, since I live overseas, I use Skype. I also use Skype because it integrates the best with Internet MIDI.

In the beginning it is best to use what you know. If you use Skype to connect to your family, use that. If you use Apple products and your students are using FaceTime already, go with that.

Your internet connection

The third thing you need for great online lessons is a reasonable internet connection. You may, at this point, be thinking to yourself, don’t we all have one? In a word, maybe. You may have great internet at home, but what about your students? You may think that Skype is giving you trouble, but in reality it is a poor connection.

I was forced to get a Hotspot this summer. (A Hotspot is a little wireless receiver which enabled me to have internet when on vacation). It was expensive, slow and annoying. Your lessons are going to be limited by your connection, so it is worth knowing what you and your have.

There are programs like www.speedtest.net which enable you to check upload and download speeds for both you and your students. This is step one of cruddy-connection troubleshooting. Keep in mind that audio and video files are fairly big and will slow things down.

Learning about piano technology is a lot like learning to play the piano. Beginning piano students get introduced to concepts slowly and new things are added after old things are mastered.

Another thing to keep in mind when you are getting started with piano technology is that you may also be teaching your students about it as well. The first lesson I had with a couple of my students this year was teaching them how to connect to Skype and having them set up their own technology.

To avoid overwhelm when getting started with online lessons, start as simply as possibly. As you and your students get more comfortable with the technology, you can start adding tech elements to your lessons.

If you want to learn more about online teaching, you can join my newsletter by clicking here, and get a free resource list with what I use when teaching online lessons.

You can also visit my Teach Piano Online Blog, which was just launched this summer, I am currently recording a course about how to set-up your online lessons for having really awesome lessons where both you and your students have a really good online experience.

Sarah Logo Icon

Sarah Lyngra has been teaching for over 20 years, the last 17 of them overseas. She currently lives and teaches in the local and expatriate community in Saudi Arabia. She specializes in reading and teaching children with learning disabilities, and has created a color coded piano method and music to help with students with special needs.

For the last 3 years, Sarah has been both taking lessons and teaching students online. She is one of the pioneers of the wild world of internet teaching, and has experienced most of the problems that teachers will come across when starting up online teaching businesses. (And probably a few that most teachers will never experience)

Be Our Guest: Can my iPad REALLY be used for piano practice? SERIOUSLY-REALLY?

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You are in for a fun treat with our guest blogger today. Becki Laurent is full of positive energy and is a big proponent of staying relevant with our students. She offers some great tips on what she has used successfully with her students including her own kids. Enjoy today’s post…


I’m a piano teacher.  I’ve been a tech girl since I was 3.  I had a Merlin. Do you remember that? It was red and looked like an old cell phone? My mom tells the story that on my 6th Christmas as I was opening my presents I said to my dad “if it doesn’t have batteries or plug in, I don’t want it”.  I am unapologetic about using technology.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.54.13 AM Naturally when I started teaching a thousand years ago (that’s computer years but would be 20 or so REAL years) I wholeheartedly embraced bringing computers, computer games and midi into my classes.  Those early years were hard.  I often think that I would have had an easier time if I’d added a few electrical engineering classes to my schedule as an undergrad.

How times have changed!  It’s not hard anymore.

As a teacher I can now access my entire sheet music library from my Ipad.  Using apps like ForScore and the apps for Sheetmusic Plus and Music Notes there is no longer the need to haul around a couple binders full of heavy plastic covered sheet music that flips when you least desire it in an outdoor wedding.  There are no glares on the pages when the lights move and hit you SMACK in the eye, startling you into a fumbled note.  My iPad is my sheet music librarian. If a student comes in and requests a song I have no problem finding it. Sometimes I just browse my library to remember old favorites. Wait, is that practice? Or fun? You decide.

I have 2 perfectly angelic children who routinely cause me whiplash having to switch from 6-year-old mode to 13-year-old mode and they both play piano. In a normal family, piano practice times can be easily scheduled. In a studio setting, attached to your home, even though there are 3 pianos, my kids can’t seem to get to them, wouldn’tcha know! Because other people’s kids are always here we have had to find digi solutions to our practice dilemma.

So OUR favorite apps for home practice when they can’t get to a piano are: The Most Addicting Sheep Game, FlashNote Derby, and Piano Maestro.

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The Most Addicting Sheep Game is awesome despite it’s non-musical title. It is a fabulously fun listening game that teaches rhythm and interval recognition. I love that, as a teacher, for students who have that weird eye thing where they don’t seem to be able to tell a repeated note from a 2nd. This game brings it home and makes them look. My kids love it because the sheep is cute and it’s kind of challenging and makes them laugh. See me not tell them that they are building aural skills in timing!

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FlashNote Derby is fantastic because their teacher (not me- but we pray and request blessings upon her every day) can assign specific note assignments when she sees a deficiency in recognition of said notes. Sometimes she does it for a new scale, sometimes she does it for anchor notes and sometimes she does it for torture. I’m good with any and all of those choices. She sets up the game, sends me an email with a link and when they open the game- BAM! Set up for what SHE wants them to learn. They must take screen shots of their scores for her.

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And then, sigh, there is Piano Maestro!   I sigh because I don’t want to sound like a commercial BUT I LOVE THIS GAME! And everyone is tired of hearing me talk about it! But I’m going to talk about it and you should stick around because this will change the way you teach.   Its won lots of awards. That’s cool. But do my kids, the children of a professional musician, with ears like elephants, oodles of talent and access to apps and software laying all over the house, like it?

That’d be a great big YUP! (I’m from Texas!)

Piano Maestro allows their Sainted Teacher to assign Home Challenges (aka WORK, but shhhhh don’t tell) that are specific to their developmental stage. It allows you to assign scales (full, penta, contrary motion, parallel motion) in multiple keys. They are assigned, I mean, allowed to play, pop contemporary tunes at their level with a full band track. They can do this easily because The Most Addicting Sheep Game but also because there are practice tools like Learn Mode (which teaches them the song step by step), Hold On (which waits for them much more patiently than I do) to find the right key and a Metronome that slows them down so they can think. They love the Share The Moment feature which is like Instagram but for a piano performance and can be sent to an email for forwarding to everyone else who needs to hear the AMAZING AWESOMENESS that are my kid’s performances. Best of all when a piano is available, they can play with no wires, cables or extra set up. Just pop the iPad on the music stand and play. If the pianos are unavailable they can play on the iPad piano keyboard. Although this is only good to a certain level, they find it hilarious to TRY to get their grubby little fingers on those tiny keys to see how many notes they CAN get right! (Insert head shake)

That’s my kids view.

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When the Pro Musician/Teacher comes out to play, well, the game is viewed a little differently. The kids are gamers. I use this as a teaching PLATFORM to mold and create my musicians. With all the method books and supplemental music and scales and targeted exercises, this app becomes my reach for app during every lesson.

I use lots of method books. LOTS of METHOD BOOKS! They all do the job I need them to do for my students. Sometimes I find that they need more “seasoning” on a particular concept. Do I reach for my library, break all kinds of copyright laws and make copies of more songs for them to work on? NOPE!   I just assign work, I mean HOME CHALLENGES, from the other method books included. HAH!   Sending those assignments is a simple as pushing an icon and off it goes to our home iPads.

I can go on and on and on- but Jennifer said I should be brief. Like a teacher can be brief, huh? Those are some of the highlights of the apps I find most useful. So, the answer to the title is YES- your iPad can be used for something more than MineCraft, FaceBook and Candy Crush…. Dare I say it? It can be used for effective, efficient PRACTICE! GO! (I said that in my teacher voice!)

Ms. Becki

Becki Laurent

Becki Laurent is a private music teacher and frequent guest lecturer.  A student of John Moore, Kathy Spies and Emmett Vokes  she is currently located in Texas where she is the owner of a large music school with over 400 students.  Becki began adding technology to her private lessons in 1993 and continues to stay on the leading edge using tech to make music. (Yes, those are the angels!)

Be Our Guest: F.U.N. is not a 4-letter word

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I’m super excited to introduce our guest today! Many of you are familiar with her name and her music. Jennifer Eklund is the owner and composer of the ever growing, very popular among students and teachers, PianoPronto.com. If you haven’t heard of PianoPronto.com, as soon as you are done reading this article, then go into the search bar and type in Piano Pronto and you will find several posts and reviews. Then go visit her website. All her music is available to view and listen to, so you know exactly what you are getting before you click the purchase button. Her music is motivating and inspirational to say the least. Jennifer’s post today is one that I know all will enjoy reading…

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Jennifer Eklund

As the new academic year approaches I want to pose a couple questions to all the teachers out there: are your students having fun? Do you think fun is an essential part of the lesson experience?

I sometimes hear the idea batted around that fun piano lessons are somehow less serious or less productive and/or not goal-oriented. I’m here to challenge that idea and tell you why F.U.N. is an essential element in any successful piano studio.

As a teacher my ultimate goal is to pass a love of music and piano-playing on to each and every one of my students. I play the piano because it’s fun. I want students to have fun and to look back on their lesson experience as a positive aspect of their childhood and to still want to sit down and play when they’re in their 20s, 30s, and beyond.

Tip: With my over-stressed teens I remind them each week that piano playing is their deadline-free activity. Just taking the “due date” mentality off the table is enough to relax them and opens up the experience to be fun, enjoyable, and most often a stress-reliever.

My personal definition of a fun lesson experience is a student leaving the lesson excited, motivated, and feeling confident enough to go home, work on their assignments, and be ready to move on to more material the following week. Closely linked to the fun experience factor in lessons is the perception of personal progression which is what keeps us motivated in any endeavor. In the beginning of the lesson process this is easy because there are new concepts introduced often and the forward trajectory is apparent. As students hit those inevitable hurdles in their progression it is easier for stagnation and complacency to set in when it isn’t as easy to sense that progress. The changes are smaller and therefore harder to perceive. As teachers we need to constantly adjust our approach to make sure that the students (not just us as teachers) perceive their own improvements.

Tip: If you’re having one of those days with a student here’s how to turn it around. I like to pull out their assignment book and flip back to the same date one year ago and review with them what they were playing back then. Students have a tendency to get bogged down in the present and always forget where they were. This is often just the wake-up call they need to get their engines revved up again.

Things were much different back in 1994 when I first started teaching. Back then piano lessons were competing with, at most, another sporting activity, homework, and after-school cartoon watching. Twenty years later the piano-lesson landscape has changed drastically, and therefore we as teachers need to make sure we are adjusting our teaching styles. Today we are competing for the attention of our students as they try to balance an ever-increasing homework load, multiple sports, club teams, dance lessons, AP courses, scouts, etc. Out of 168 hours in the week, the small fraction of time you spend with a student needs to be memorable enough to grab their interest so that they will carve out time to devote to the piano during their non-lesson hours. I don’t think of this as pandering or catering to kids – in my mind this is adjusting to the needs of our students and being effective as a teacher.

Tip: It’s always good to have goals in mind – and as teachers it’s our natural inclination to have milestones for our students. BUT, I find that with a lot of students it’s better not to mention all these goals out loud because it can overwhelm them and suddenly piano lessons seem to be a lot like school (and let’s face it, for some students school isn’t fun). Instead, I wait and when a milestone I’ve had in my mind is reached that’s the point when I mention it to the student (and make a very big deal out of it). The student most often doesn’t see what they’ve accomplished as such a big deal because they’re already at the destination and they tend to disregard the difficulties and work that went into achieving that goal and suddenly the achievement is placed into the “well that wasn’t so hard” category.
So are you ready to take your studio to the next level? Maybe you’re already having fun in lessons, but here’s a few tips that I think will lead to happier students and a bustling studio that is always fully-booked – and it’s all about F.U.N.

F” is for FAMILIARITY. My Piano Pronto method book series was conceived in large part out of years of teaching and finding that time and time again students of all ages are motivated by recreating tunes that are already familiar to them. This is linked back to what I mentioned earlier about perceived progress. When students can confidently go home and know that they are practicing something correctly because they are already familiar with it chances are that they will carve out more time to practice during their non-lesson hours.

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Practicing effectively is a battle we wage from the very beginning with students. Luckily there are great assessment tools out there these days to help students do exactly that. I’m a huge fan of the iPad app Piano Maestro by JoyTunes because it offers instant feedback for students when they practice their Piano Pronto materials at home – all wrapped up in an awesome game format! If you’ve yet to discover this awesome teaching tool you can read all about it HERE and get a month FREE membership if you use this code: JTS1MJENNIFER.

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U” is for UNIQUE & USER-FRIENDLY. Are you using the same method books you were using 10 years ago? Do you stick with certain materials mostly because you are familiar with them? Do you tailor materials to fit each individual? Are you afraid to teach pop music because there are just too many fads to keep up with? Are your students proud to present what they’re playing for their peers?

I want to challenge you to consider your teaching materials and ask yourself if they are unique and user-friendly, or just the same old stuff that everyone else is probably teaching. The publishing landscape is changing quickly due in large part to a surge in self-publishing houses that offer new and fresh materials for students and teachers—materials that are often times more in line with the tastes of most students. It is an exciting time for you as a teacher as you are no longer bound to big publishing-house releases or whatever your local music store has in stock.

My students love pop music, but as a teacher I’m highly annoyed by music that is in style one week and out of style the next week. As a composer I decided to start combatting this issue by writing pop-style solos that mimic what students are listening to on their free time, but offer the pedagogical meat within the material that satisfies teachers and their goals for their students.   The Spotlight Solos book is an example of a user-friendly collection of memorable, catchy ear-worms that make practicing easy and fun. The music feels relevant and current for students and they are proud to show off this music to their friends.

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N” is for NEIGHBORHOOD NICHE. This is mostly on the business-side (you know the stuff that a lot of us would rather not think about). This may be hard to hear but if you are losing students, or if you’re having a hard time obtaining new clients it may be time for a change. Are you offering a niche service for your area? What makes studying with you a unique experience?

I found the most success as a teacher when I stopped doing what everyone else was doing and carved out my specialty areas. For me those items are: incorporating technology into lessons, using technology to teach composition, and focusing on popular music styles and unique repertoire. Set yourself apart from the crowd and word-of-mouth will drive more business towards you.

Once you decide on your niche(s) strive to hone these skills and don’t ever stop fine-tuning your methods. Are you hard up for ideas? Feeling a bit lost, unmotivated? There are a number of great groups on Facebook where you can find daily discussions about everything under the sun about our field. I moderate once of the largest groups on Facebook, Piano Teacher Central, where you will find loads of information about teaching materials, business practices, how to deal with student issues, etc. It is a closed group, meaning only group members (who are screened before they are admitted to the group) can see the posts. Think of it as your new virtual water cooler.

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For those interested in the Piano Maestro app the JoyTunes Teachers group has lots of cool ideas and it is THE place to keep up with the latest news about Piano Maestro.

Here are a couple other groups that are great for ideas to help you carve out your niche:

Piano Teacher FunMakers Group – moderated by Joy Morin and Susan Paradis and focused on off-the-bench activities.

iPad Piano Teachers Group – moderated by tech guru Linda Christensen answers all your pressing iPad queries.

So are you ready to have F.U.N. in your studio this year? Tell us how you plan to implement F.U.N. into your teaching this year and by leaving us a comment you will be entered to win a FREE copy of the Spotlight Solos collection by Jennifer Eklund! Deadline to enter is Thursday, August 14; 10:00pm (AZ MST).  GIVEAWAY HAS EXPIRED

Be Our Guest: Adjudication & You – How To Survive

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I’m happy to introduce our guest for July- Kassandra Weleck, a piano teacher from Tucson, AZ. Kassandra has shared a fantastic post on adjudication that I think you will enjoy reading. Some good tips for all, no matter what your role is. Enjoy…


Hello! My name is Kassandra and I’m super excited to be a guest post for Jennifer’s blog. I teach piano in Tucson, Arizona in both my private studio and at the community college. I have also spent a LOT of time adjudicating, organizing events with adjudicators, and having my students evaluated over the years. There are so many things I have learned.

When I first arrived at graduate school, my pedagogy instructor told me point blank that I would be adjudicating come spring time. I was mortified. What do I do? What do I say? How would I be nice but effective? What about my students – I’d never had my studio evaluated before. I had done evaluations and competitions in the past, but how would I prepare my students? How would I handle the adjudicator’s responses? What would I do if things went way off base? What would I do with my results? Lucky for me, I had some pretty amazing colleagues and instructors to give me advice and show me how to go about doing all these things. Once I got out on my own and started having to organize events, I learned some really important things that make a good adjudicator and, ironically, what makes a good teacher and student in an event. These are the things I want to share with you today, and I’ll break it down as follows:

1. Adjudicator Survival – Preparation, Execution, Follow-Up, & “Issues”

2. Instructor Survival – Preparation, Execution, Follow-Up, & Critique and Doubt

3. Student Survival – Preparation, Execution, Using Comments and Decisions, & “Other”

 

ADJUDICATOR SURVIVAL

For most events that I have participated in, adjudicators are experts in the field and tend to have a master’s degree or higher in said field. Even if the adjudicator is not trained on the instrument(s) to be reviewed, s/he has a high degree of basic music knowledge that can give general overall comments. Adjudicators are there to help students and teachers hear how a performance of a piece(s) is going, to give suggestions on improvement (if needed), and sometimes to determine a score or place for the performance. Adjudicators are not there to berate performances, find fault in everything, or simply to collect a payment (if given) before scampering off. They honestly want to see students succeed, and hear that the teachers are doing well in preparing their students for adjudication. If any of these items are lacking, the adjudicator can provide the knowledge and guidance to reach that further level. This is one of the prime reasons why I love evaluation events as well as master classes – both give students and teachers instant feedback on how something is going and, if everyone is open to it, guidance to reach beyond the the current level.

If you are ever called upon to adjudicate, or even if you have done it many times in the past, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind for your event(s). By no means do I know everything and think this is all you should do – this is simply a list of items I have found most useful over the years:

1. PREPARATION:

            Get to know the event. What are the guidelines? Who is participating? What will students be   playing? Will they play multiple pieces? Are the pieces only from one musical period? Will    there only be comments given or will you have to place students? Are there prizes? Will there    be a “winners’ recital?” Are you getting paid? Is it on a grand piano or a church upright? There are a million more questions I could put here, but you get the idea – know what you’re getting   into before you get there. I recently adjudicated an event where the other judges wanted to judge the students based on their potential, not their actual performance that day. Huh? That wasn’t what the event was for – know the guidelines!

Get there early. Do you know what time I arrive at events when I’m going to adjudicate? 15 minutes before the time the organizers tell me to be there. Why? I’d rather be early and sit around twiddling my thumbs than be racing at 90 mph in my car trying to get to a place I’ve never been before. Also, do your organizer a favor and be early – they’re already under enough stress that day!

2. EXECUTION:

            Find something positive to say within the first 10 seconds. This is especially important for   beginning-level students whose pieces may only last 20 seconds! One of my favorite things to           read before I adjudicate is this list of positive adjectives. Try to see how many you can use through the course of your evaluation – I think you’ll discover that you’ll keep a more positive tilt to your listening when you’re trying to see the good side.

Find a positive way to say something negative. This is really hard to do when you’ve been listening all day and just want to rip your hair out. Instead of saying something like “my ears were bleeding from how loud you were playing,” try finding a constructive way of phrasing it: “there is a mezzo piano at m. 64 that didn’t happen – it really kills the phrase when it doesn’t change dynamics.” See? You still got to say “kills.”

Smile. I can’t tell you how many adjudicators over the years have scared me to death by staring at me like I was for dinner. SMILE. Even if it makes your face creak and hurt, give it a try! Many times, it will allow the person playing to relax (if they can see you). Heck, even if they can’t see you, smile – it might make the volunteers and organizers think you’re enjoying yourself.

3. FOLLOW-UP:

Thank the organizer(s). Truly, this is the most important one. Would you like to adjudicate this event again? You better thank someone in charge! Even if it was the most ridiculous event you have ever done and swear you will never touch it with a ten-foot pole again, say thank you: you never know when that thank you will save your behind someday.

Get paid. If it is a paid event, hopefully the organizer has already given you your payment. If not, speak up! I remember an event I adjudicated years ago where I asked about payment as I was about to leave. The organizer blinked at me and said “payment?” Apparently, that was the one thing she had neglected to arrange. However, I have to give her credit – she wrote me a personal check, apologized profusely, and never let it happen again.

4. “ISSUES”

When in doubt, always refer to the organizer(s). I hate to even bring this up, but from time    to time, it does happen. Someone will be upset with your results and/or comments and bring it up. Most of the time, they will talk to the organizer. Sometimes, they’ll talk to you. Always refer issues back to the organizer. Most events will say “judges’ decisions are final,” so you     don’t have to defend yourself or think any further about the issue. This is why they are the organizers and you are the adjudicator. Hopefully that is as far as the issue ever goes; if not, do not participate in that event or with that organizer(s) again. Ever.

 

TEACHER SURVIVAL

The teacher is the wealth of knowledge from which students learn, so teachers have a big responsibility here to set the students up for a positive experience. Not only do teachers need to give the student honest feedback regarding their music, they also have to build up their confidence to go through with the event. It’s a tough job but, when done correctly, makes for some very happy people all around. Teachers can be extreme novices up to extremely experienced. Some have no high school diploma while some have attained all possible degrees in their field and then some. However, everyone can follow these guidelines to prepare for an adjudicated event:

1. PREPARATION

Set up the student for a positive experience. Notice I didn’t say “success.” Sometimes, having a positive experience is the best you can hope for. I once had a student participate in an evaluation where he received the lowest possible score overall (that’s what happens when you don’t practice!). However, he came back telling me about how nice his adjudicator was, how wonderful the piano was to play on, and how much fun it was to be at that location.  These were all things that I had made sound like a dream come true during lessons, and he took them to heart and looked forward to experiencing these things. To me, that’s a good way to make an evaluation look more tantalizing!

Practice. How do you do anything in front of others without being overcome by nerves? You do it front of others to practice. Not only does this help shake off some nerves, it allows discovery of other things about the upcoming event that may not have been considered, such as moving the bench, setting up the music stand, what to wear (or what not to wear!), where to set up, etc. You can take this opportunity to do comments for the student as well. This kind of practice is great to do several times in the month leading up to an adjudicated event.

Ensure the student has everything ready. Is all the registration paperwork turned in and paid? Is the recording sent (if needed)? Does the student have music for the adjudicator? Is the music marked for every measure? Do they have extra reeds, strings, mallets, etc. just in case?  Does the student and/or family know where to go for the event? What time? Don’t leave this to chance – anything you forget to review with the student, no matter how minor, may come back to haunt you later. I once forgot to tell a student to dress up for a recital at a music school I taught at. He panicked, knowing that dress was part of the grade, and borrowed his girlfriend’s skirt. Well…he passed the dress portion of his grade, but I still see photos of him in that skirt on Facebook from time to time.

2. EXECUTION

Be present (if possible). As the teacher, your responsibility is to make sure the student is as prepared as possible. Sometimes that means making sure that they feel secure at the event location by having you there. If you can be there, be there. It makes a world of difference to both students and families. If you can’t be present, make sure they know everything about the event (see Preparation) to ensure comfort.

Get away from the evaluation area! This is my number one pet peeve as both an adjudicator and an organizer. If your student is in a room being evaluated, and the evaluation is supposed to be blind (adjudicator has no idea whose student s/he is listening to), get away from the room! Feel free to be nearby to meet your student before and after, but please, stop making yourself known to everyone and their brother.

Help out (if possible). The organizer(s) will be so thankful for extra help, even if it’s just someone to take down signs at the end of the day, or check to make sure Person A got to the appropriate room. It takes a village…

3. FOLLOW-UP

Be patient for results. No one cares if you’re Emmanuel Ax or Iam Nobody – you aren’t  getting your results until the results are ready. Sometimes you know ahead of time when they will be ready, and sometimes you simply have to wait until it’s finished – either way, you will get your results. Don’t be pushy. On the other end of the scale, go get your results. There’s nothing worse than having a student evaluated at an event and not knowing how s/he did because you were too lazy to get the materials!

Be positive with the student(s) no matter what. Did your student do well? Great! Congratulate the heck out of them! Did your student do poorly? Find something good about the experience, and then discuss ways to do better next time.

4. CRITIQUE & DOUBT

            Take the adjudicator’s comments with a grain of salt. When reviewing comments from an adjudicator, it’s easy to blame the student for all the issues that occur. However, what if the real issue is you? If there is a recurring theme across the board for several students (e.g. uneven tempo, lack of dynamics, etc.), maybe it’s the way you approach the topic that might be at fault.  Critique yourself against the comments – can you do something different? Are there other ways of getting students to do that skill? How confident are you in your skills on this item? Could you find a way to improve that skill? Also, remember that adjudicators are human and hear   things differently than you do. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just another  perspective on a performance.

When in doubt, always refer to the organizer(s). Hey, wait, this is familiar…wait a minute, Kassandra, you’re recycling this issue from the “Adjudicator” section! Lazy! No, it’s not lazy, it’s important to review again from the teacher angle. Let’s say your student is the only student that has his/her music memorized for a competition and is the only one that plays their piece(s) without breaking down and crying in the middle. Then, your student doesn’t place in the top 3. You think “is that adjudicator out to lunch? My student should have won!” Do not go to the adjudicator. Go to the organizer(s). Be very objective rather than subjective when presenting   your issue; in other words, present the facts and leave your emotions out of it. Remember that many times the adjudicator’s decision is final and there is nothing the organizer(s) can do. Take whatever decision is made by the organizer(s) with grace, and move forward from there.

 

STUDENT SURVIVAL

The student is the person doing the evaluated event. S/he has spent a lot of time (I hope) preparing for this event and putting a lot of thought and energy into finding a way to do well. S/he hopes for the best possible outcome for him/herself, and wants more than anything to earn the positive praises of the event trinity: family, teacher, and adjudicator. Sometimes, just getting to the event is a success. Other times, the student really has a chance of coming out on top. In either instance, students need a solid foundation beforehand to ensure their chances of a positive overall experience.

1. PREPARATION

Practice pieces every way possible. That sounds bizarre. “Does she mean practice the pieces   upside down outside?” No, no, let me explain: practice pieces every way possible means to make sure that every sense we use as musicians is utilized: sight, sound, and touch (if you taste   and smell when you play, kudos to you because I sure don’t). See what you’re doing in both the  music and on your instrument. Hear what you’re playing and really listen for what you’re trying to achieve musically. Feel how you move as you accomplish the music to its full realization.  Once you’ve done all that, take away one sense. It’s a great way to check how solid you are. For example, take away sight – practice in the dark. It will force your hearing and touch to be more solid. Practicing in ways outside of your usual routine will only make you stronger and       more connected to the music.

Know what your event is all about. Are you playing to win a monetary prize in a  competition? Are you playing to receive comments on how you’ve progressed in a year’s time?  Are you playing to see who has the best self-composed cadenza in a concerto? If you know what the event is all about, you’ll be better able to achieve whatever the goal for it is.

Know the Ws of your event. What event, where is it, when is it, and who is your audience? Know what’s going on, or at least make sure whoever is taking you knows. Optional W: will there be a place to warm-up?

Practice performing for others. Especially if it’s an adjudicated event, make sure you’ve played for others in advance so that you’re not so nervous. Ask your teacher to write comments while you play. Have your family listen and offer critique. Play for your pet ferret. The more you perform, the better your performing becomes.

2. EXECUTION

Smile and think positive. “Oh no, I’m going to play so horribly that the adjudicator is going to fall over dead when my Bach is finished.” If that’s the attitude you have, that’s the performance you will give. Walk in thinking “I am going to rock my Bach and the adjudicator’s day will be a million times better because of my performance.” You stand a much better chance of doing well with this kind of positive thinking!

Take your time. Just because you’re up there ready for the performance doesn’t mean you have to start instantly. Breathe, think about what you’re going to do, prepare, and then go for it.

Have fun. After all, that’s what this is all about, right? Enjoy your moment with your music.

3. USING COMMENTS & DECISIONS

Read, critique, grow. Look over your comments. What did you do well? What can you improve on? Critique yourself – is this the best I can do, or can I incorporate some of the  adjudicator’s suggestions? Grow through the experience – what can you take away from this that you didn’t know/have before?

Don’t be your own worst enemy. It’s easy to focus on all the negative things an adjudicator  might mention. Try instead to find the good things – did you play something particularly well? Did you achieve a personal goal? Did the adjudicator maintain his/her composure and not cry? Find the good. Find the positive. Be your own cheerleader!

Look ahead. What’s next on the horizon? Now that this experience is behind you, where are you going to go with it? Look forward and continuing growing as a musician!

4. “OTHER”

Problem results. You have a problem with the results you got for your evaluation. Why the heck did the adjudicator do what s/he did? Were they asleep?!? The biggest focus to remember here is that the evaluated person should NEVER, EVER approach the adjudicator about results. Again, go to the organizer. If you are still living with your parent(s) or guardian(s), have them  go to the organizer. Sometimes, problem results can be laughable – I once had an adjudicator  write “student’s skirt is too short for piano playing” on an evaluation and mark her down one grade. My student and I had a good laugh about that one, and I joked that maybe she was  showing too much leg for the adjudicator to focus on her playing. Manageable for both her and me. However, if you have a bigger issue than the length of your clothing, get someone to contact the organizer for you. Chances are good that the organizer can explain what happened.

That was a horrible experience and I never, ever want to do it again. If you’re thinking this   after an event, talk to your teacher. Be honest. If you don’t communicate this feeling, how are you ever going to have your voice and opinion heard? My undergraduate teacher had a requirement that everyone in our studio compete in the annual concerto competition. After two years of doing it, I finally spoke up and told her how much I hated it. She looked at me oddly and said “why didn’t you say so? We can always just work on a concerto and not do the competition.” I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Speak up! Do yourself (and future   adjudicators) a favor and find other ways to show off your talents with your teacher.

 

I hope that I’ve been able to give you ideas from all three points of view to survive adjudicated events. They can be a lot of fun if everyone is prepared and goes with the flow. I’m a big believer that positive thinking enhances what you can do, and so a lot of achievement lies in your mental preparation beforehand. Enjoy yourself, and have fun with the music!

 

Kassandra

Kassandra Jenkins Weleck earned her bachelor of music in piano performance at Bowling Green State University magna cum laude with University Honors, and her master of music in piano performance & pedagogy from Arizona State University. She has performed in recitals, master classes, chamber performances, and music festivals in the United States, Canada, England, and Austria. Her teachers have included Rebecca Casey, Jane Solose, Caio Pagano, and Jan Meyer Thompson (pedagogy). Kassandra has held offices at the local, state, and division level for Music Teachers National Association, and currently serves as co-chair for Arizona Study Program for MTNA’s southern Arizona chapter, secretary for MTNA’s Arizona association, and division coordinator for MTNA’s composition competition. She teaches music and piano at Pima Community College, and maintains a small private studio in Tucson.


 

Thank you Kassandra for being our guest this month and sharing these fantastic tips! If you are interested in being a future guest blogger on FPSResources.com, I would love to hear from you!

Be Our Guest: Tips for Making Your Studio Shine Online

I’m happy to introduce our guest for June, Suzan Pleva. Suzan has been very helpful to many teachers lately in helping their studio to shine online. Aside from teaching piano, she does business development management for an online multimedia marketing firm. She has experience in graphic design, building websites, handling online marketing, creating and maintaining brand campaigns for clients, specializing in social media. You can view her blog at: Melody Piano


Below are some important tips for you to utilize in order to optimize your studio’s online presence. Now of days, almost everything and anything can be found online. It is very important that your studio’s online networks are showcasing your studio in an accurate manner. So, let’s get started.

VISUALS ARE IMPORTANT AND EYE CATCHING

9 times out of 10, when searching online for information, a person is inclined to click on or read an article, or information that is provided with an enticing image. An inviting graphic or picture is always a smart choice to post along with the information that you are putting out there. It subconsciously lets people know that your information is inviting, and easy to read.

Make sure your pictures are saved correctly, and labeled accurately. They will begin to show up online and in the search engines with the wording that you utilize when you label them, and with the words you use to save them to your computer. SO, if you save a picture to your computer, and the name of the file is, ‘01000834’ for example- CHANGE IT!!! Is it a picture of you and your students? Let’s pretend your studio’s name is ‘piano studio’, when you save this picture to your computer, re-name that file to ‘Piano Studio Teacher and Students’.

UPDATE YOUR INFORMATION FREQUENTLY

It’s important to keep your students, parents, and colleagues updated on what is happening with you as the Instructor, as well as your students and studio activity on a regular basis via social media. Think of your social media pages like an in formal newsletter that people do not have to subscribe to. Even though this may be the case, does not mean that they are not interested in what is happening! If possible, try to post something new and exciting about your students at least once a week, if not more.

ALWAYS RESPOND IMMEDIATELY

People want to know that you are real, people want to know that you are consistent and follow through. If you have a ‘contact form’ on your website, make sure that there are NO ‘glitches’ or problems with it. Make sure that it is working properly. If someone uses this contact form to get a hold of you about piano lessons, respond AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. There is no point in having a great online presence if you cannot follow through with it offline. The first question to ask when you contact a potential student? “Where did you find out about myself and my studio?” Be sure to take note of this, so that you can become more aware of what online networks are working best for your studio’s exposure.

LIKES ARE DIFFERENT THEN ACTUAL ENGAGEMENT

There is a big difference between getting ‘likes’ and followers on your social media networks and people actually engaging in the information that you put out there. You want ENGAGEMENT. Someone can like a Facebook page, and never visit or look at it again. What’s the point in that? You want people to be interested in your studio. You want people excited to see what is happening with you and your students. If they are commenting, asking on your photo’s. News and announcements, this is a good thing! This means, when a potential students is checking out your studio’s online networks to see if your studio is a good fit for them, they will be that much more inclined (and impressed) to take it further. They will feel at ease knowing that there are people excited to be involved in your studio activity! It is inviting!

EXHAUST YOUR FREE AVENUES

There are several things you can do to gain exposure for your studio online that are FREE. The only thing is, it does take time to get everything done, so keep this in mind. Examples of free online local listings and social media networks that are MUST HAVES are: Linkedin, Facebook, Merchant Circle, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Twitter. USE TUTORIALS if you have problems trying to figure out how to use any online social media platforms to list your studio, know that each and every one of these sites have a ‘help’ or ‘how to’ section that you can go to so that you can learn how to use them. If you are still frustrated? Hire a professional to execute the job for you.

DON’T PUBLISH UNTIL YOUR PAGES ARE COMPLETED

Unless you are ready to make sure that you have added all the necessary information for your studio, do not proceed with publishing or ‘going live’ with anything. If a potential student has the choice of looking at a well crafted, completed studio listing that is well organized, has pictures, and they can find the information that they are looking for, or a studio listing that has no information on it, they WILL choose the better crafted listing.

There you have it! These are just some of the things that you can do to help your studio’s online presence be as great as its offline presence. For further questions in regard to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Suzan Pleva

Suzan Pleva is a classically trained independent piano instructor. She has played the piano for 21 years and feels that she has found her true calling. She was born with the ability to play by ear, and is very well rounded in every aspect of playing the piano. She feels very passionate about teaching others to become as well rounded in this arena as possible. She really enjoys working with children and is very patient with helping individuals understand each and every concept of the piano that is introduced to them. Suzan believes that music can bring you closer to emotion, taking you to any place that you prefer to go. “Music can help your mind to focus on more than what is in front of you by inspiring your imagination to be free and open. In short, music teaches virtue, tolerance, kindness; it teaches us about other languages and cultures. It stimulates the higher functioning of the brain, reduces stress, and improves socialization. As an instructor, I understand these things, and seek to be not merely a teacher, but a mentor who serves as constant source of inspiration and encouragement.”


I have been wanting a studio logo for a long time and decided to jump in and have Suzan help me give my online presence an updated look. I had her do logo’s and banners for me. You can see the results not only on this blog, but on my Foxx Piano Studio blog, FPSResources on Facebook, Foxx Piano Studio on Facebook, Foxx Piano Studio, on YouTube and on Google +.

I’m excited to pass along the news that Suzan has offered her services at a special rate to my readers. If you are interested in revamping your website, starting brand new, want a new look to your Facebook page, all things media or maybe just a logo, go to MakeYourStudioGreatOnline.com for more info. You will also be able to view what she has done with other teachers.

Be Our Guest: The Power of YES!

photo

I am very happy to introduce you our guest for May. She is a very special person who touches the lives of all who are lucky to get to know her. When you are around her, you can’t help but feel special. So today I would like to share a little bit of Claire Westlake with all of you. She shares a special story of the power of saying YES even though we really would rather say no… Welcome Claire as our guest blogger!

 

The Power of YES!

25 years ago I would have questioned your sanity had you told me I would be teaching piano as a career, managing a large organization and having Jon Schmidt of “The Piano Guys” staying in my home for a few days. It’s funny how life takes you through all of its’ twists and turns and where you finally end up. My life-changing moment occurred when I was asked to serve on the board of the Desert Valley Music Teachers’ Association.

Claire with Jon Schmidt

I knew I needed to take my turn to serve as I had been given so much from this group, but I was already over-committed with family, church and studio responsibilities. Despite my doubts and with encouragement from the incoming President who was more overloaded than I, I decided to take the plunge.   I knew I couldn’t always be a taker, I needed to be a giver. Little did I know how my life would unfold and how much I would learn in the process because of that first yes.

After I served that first year as Achievement Day Chairman I thought I had done my part. However, not only did I find that it was actually a two-year term, I also found out I was expecting our 5th child. Not wanting to let anyone down, I served the second year. Though I was crazy busy, I made it through with the help of my DVMTA friends and family. (I also learned how to delegate.) After a short break, I was asked again to serve on the board as Scholarship Chairman, a position I held for 14 years, having another child in the process to further make time management more interesting. Like so many of you, I think I could have made multi-tasking an Olympic event by the time I was finished with this chairmanship.

With each passing year I watched each President and board member continue to serve, always marveling at their energy and how they never complained. They had great knowledge and experience that they freely shared. I always considered it a privilege to rub shoulders with them. They became my heroes, my mentors, and my best friends, in short; the finest people I have ever had the opportunity to know.

DVMTA Volunteers

After watching their example for years, how could I say no when one of my best friends asked me to be in charge of the duet ensemble when she took over as President? This position took far more time and effort than any position on the board, including that of President. Almost 600 kids, 57 teachers, 14 groups and two performances for two years in a row, was almost more than this small town girl could handle. On top of that, it was the 25th anniversary of our “Cavalcade of Rhythm” the second year of that term. I was asked to make a big celebration out of it, if it wasn’t big enough already, and invite a guest composer. In the past they had invited popular composers like Kevin Olson and Melody Bober to attend. Initially I laughed at my friend and told her no, that I didn’t have time to even consider it. Later that night, however, I had a very strong impression that I needed to do this for her and for the organization that had given so much to me. For years I had entered students in this great event, doing little to help, other than conducting a group. It was time to step up, especially after the women I had looked up to for so many years had set the example. I am so glad I did for what I was to learn in the next two years had a profound impact on the rest of my life.

Calvacade rehearsal

Calvacade

This position took all of the organizational and creative powers my poor little brain could muster. I had to pick the music, write a script, choose conductors, type a program, sell ads, run rehearsals, get a stage crew, rent costumes, rent pianos, pick a theme, find a venue, decorate a stage, sell tickets, involve the local media, advertise and handle a million more details to make this into a great experience for everyone involved. No pressure. One by one, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, things began to fall into place, and I began to gain confidence that I could do this with the help of my friends. Whenever something went wrong, someone would step up and take care of things. By the end when all was said and done, I had perfect faith or confidence that everything would be taken care of, thanks to my volunteers. We became a well-oiled machine, we became as one. The first year was a success with our “Dynamic Duos.” The second year was going to be more of a challenge as we decided to invite Jon Schmidt to be our guest composer. This was before he joined “The Piano Guys.”

Our theme for the event was “Super Songwriters.” It was conceived before “Dynamic Duos” although it debuted a year later. We needed the extra year to iron out the details, such as arranging a few of Jon’s pieces into duets, getting his permission to do so, calendaring the event with Jon and so on. We wanted to showcase a few students and DVMTA teachers who were gifted composers and arrangers. We wanted to tell the world that kids can compose and to encourage more composition in our organization. Two students performed their original compositions for our pre-show. Additionally, we commissioned them to write a duet for one of the groups to perform. When Jon arrived for the dress rehearsal and heard his songs performed he was absolutely amazed! I will never forget his face. We had 25 pianos on stage, two kids at each piano performing his “Dumb Song” and “Waterfall.” The sound was amazing. Jon was speechless. I truly believed he was touched that we took the time to do this, that 50 kids could sound so good on the piano at the same time playing his music and that the kids were enjoying it so much!

Jon Schmidt Calvacade

It was a magical moment for me as well.   All of that work was worth every hour I spent planning and preparing just to see the smiles on everyone’s face. It brought us much closer as an organization and motivated our students to practice. One of the highlights of my life was to have Jon stay in my home for two nights, have him eat dinner with my family, listen to him play on my piano and hear him tell stories. He also offered to do a private recital for my students. It was SO WORTH IT! All of this happened because of the great men and women that had my back. I truly came to have perfect faith in them.

Jon Schmidt home recital

Now after that, one would think I deserved a rest, that everything would come to an end, but shortly after the duet ensemble I was asked if I would be Vice-President for the next two years. I knew however, it was not just a two-year term. It was a six-year term! After you serve as Vice-President, you become the President for two years, then you get to serve on the board for two more years in an advisory position. I thought of my mentors who served as President before me and I said yes again. During this time I learned how to preside over a meeting, run and grow a non-profit organization with all its financial and legal obligations, motivate and inspire people, market and advertise, research areas of music and present it to our membership during our general meetings. It forced me to get out of my shell. All of those acquired skills were used in turn to grow my studio when my husband was laid off a few years ago during the economic downturn the country experienced.

Many groups and organizations found their numbers diminishing during this crazy economic time. I was worried that we would experience the same thing. I made sure the general meetings I planned as Vice-President were relevant, informative and interesting to the members that would attend. I tried to keep up with the latest ideas that were happening in the music education field to meet the needs of our teachers. We had several teachers retire and move but we were able to keep our numbers steady and even increase slightly due to our marketing efforts.

Mall event

An organization such as DVMTA runs successfully only by the generosity of its unpaid volunteers.   I discovered early that I had lucked into a very special group of teachers as they were always very supportive of me and of the other members. I grew to learn that this was a positive, nurturing environment, with no competitiveness nor politics, nor special agenda except that of empowering the teachers so they can in turn empower their students they had stewardship over. I liked how this made me feel, how it made me grow with knowledge and how it benefitted my studio and family. My abilities as a teacher grew in leaps and bounds as did the size of my studio. Additionally, I gained leadership, organizational, time-management, marketing, computer, social media, event planning and composition skills. I also learned how to keep my teaching fresh and fun while maintaining the highest of standards. Whatever service I gave, came back to me one hundred fold. Most of all I met and worked with the most wonderful, giving and caring people that I consider my dearest friends. Any measure of success I enjoy today is directly a result of being a member of DVMTA, the example that the members set for me and for my wonderful family that supported me. I would never change a minute of my experience being a member nor serving in DVMTA. All because I said yes that first time……….

 

 

President DVMTA 2012-14

Claire Westlake has over 30 years piano teaching experience and has a successful and thriving studio. She has been a member of Desert Valley Music Teachers’ Association (DVMTA) for 22 years and served as President from 2012-2014. She has also served as VP, Cavalcade of Rhythm Chair, Scholarship Chair, Achievement Day Chair and currently serving as the Social Media Chair. She is an accompanist and church music chairman and has served as a choir director. Claire is also an avid gardener, genealogist, mother of 6 and grandmother of 3. 

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Thank you Claire for being our guest blogger. I wanted to just take a moment and brag a little bit about Claire. Not only has she put a lot of time into volunteering for DVMTA, but she has done quite a lot to get DVMTA out in the social media circles. The DVMTA Facebook page, Pinterest page and Blog are among my favorites to visit. You can even find them on Instagram! Be sure to check them out!

DVMTA Facebook Page

DVMTA Pinterest 

DVMTA Blog

 

If you are interested in being a future guest on FPSResources, let me know by emailing me: jennifer@foxxpianostudio.com. Don’t forget to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!