ASMTA Conference: Ensembles, Duets and Technology…. Oh My!

Lori Frazer knows what she is talking about when it comes to midi and the features of the Yamaha Clavinova.

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Lori shared, “We lose 78% of students between level 1 and level 2.” (This is based on music sales) It’s up to us to come up with things that we can do with our students to help prevent them from quitting so early.

I would like to share my top 3 tips that stood out to me in this presentation when it comes to ensembles, duets and technology…

1) To be an effective duet partner, learn the other person’s part. 

I really loved this and will need to remember when my students prepare for our chapter’s ensemble program. If they are familiar with what their partner is playing and sounds like, they are going to be more on top of their own part!

2) When playing on a digital piano like the Clavinova, find an instrument that would represent an articulation correctly. ie: Marimba for staccato

Which leads to another great tip that Lori shared…

3) Remember the mood/genre of what the student is creating. Then base those instrumentation choices accordingly. 

There were plenty of hands on examples on Lori’s presentation which is always helpful.

I wish I had gotten a picture of Lori holding up one of her USB flash drives. She collects them and has all sorts of fun one’s like wonder woman, etc. Check out these music themed flash drives I found here.


Be sure to ‘Like’ FPSResources on Facebook and follow FPSResources on TpT to stay up to date on giveaways, discounts, reviews and other music resources!

Using Technology to Improve Student Retention

Have you received your May/June of Clavier Companion yet? Did you notice the article on page 28?

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IMG_4988I had the opportunity to participate with a group of wonderful teachers that are sharing a series of articles addressing the future of piano teaching. My article is part of this series and can be found in the May/June edition of Clavier Companion!

Don’t get Clavier Companion? Get a digital copy of this issue for free. Just click here. There is a lot of great articles in this issue. Clavier Companion is my favorite magazine. Relevant and engaging articles for piano teachers to look forward to 6 times a year. If you don’t already subscribe, I would highly recommend it!

Tech Tuesday: The Real Reason Teens Are Quitting Your Studio – Part 3: Technology!

I am excited to have Tim Topham as a guest today for our Tech Tuesday feature. He has a terrific blog that you should visit. His posts in this series have been spot on, be sure to check all of them out!

Teenagers and Technology – a match made in heaven

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This is the last article in a 3-part series I’ve been writing about retaining and motivating teenage piano students.

The initial idea for the series was borne out of feedback I received from readers of my free Teen Teaching Toolkit eBook. I found that despite their best efforts, many teachers didn’t know how to connect effectively with their teenage students and couldn’t work out why they were losing them to other activities.

I’ve already covered two key reasons that teens quit piano:

Part 1: They aren’t playing music they want to play

In the first part of the series, which you can read at Wendy Stevens’ fantastic Compose Create blog, I discussed that teachers of teenagers have to be open to teaching the music their students want to play.

Part 2: They don’t see the relevance in their lessons

In Part 2 of the series, I explained that teenagers also need to see the relevance in what they are doing and their lessons have to be practical and useful. To them. Now.

This week, in the final part of the series, we’ll discuss how keeping up with technology can help you motivate and retain teenagers in your studio.

Bach v Xbox – how can you win?

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Technology is a great motivator for today’s adolescents.

If you’re trying to get students to choose between 30 mins of Bach practice hands separately with a metronome and 30 minutes on their Xbox, you’re going to lose every time!

But what if they got to learn their favourite pop songs by playing along to the full band and vocals on their iPad for 30 minutes? Or if they got to practice their jazz improv by playing along with a bass and drums? How much more engaged could they be?

I’m not saying that learning Bach isn’t a good idea for the right student; rather, incorporating aspects of technology is what this post is all about. You don’t have to revolutionize everything that you’re doing in your lessons – small changes can have a lasting impact.

What if I don’t have an iPad?

OK, so I know that not everyone has an iPad. However, I’m hoping that if you’re reading an article like this and you don’t have one, you’re probably at least thinking about it. While I’m not here to convince you to buy an iPad, if you’re looking for ways to keep your teens engaged, I think it’s a ‘no-brainer’.

That said, not everything is about the iPad either. YouTube is a great resource and allows you to do far more than just watch and upload videos. Check out my post about creating playlists for students, for example. There is also plenty of free online music software on the web that you can use: notation software (eg. Noteflight), aural training software and music games.

So, how do you get a start motivating your teens with technology?

Here are my top 3 tips for using technology to inspire your teens this week:

1. Get stuck into Notestar! 

The free Notestar app by Yamaha is probably the app I use more than any other when it comes to teaching teens. Notestar provides backing tracks with full vocals for all the latest pop songs. It is updated regularly when new material is released and has lots of the 60s, 70s and 80s included, as well as the latest releases. You’ll even find Baroque and Classical music on there (try playing along to a string section for Canon in D!). While the app is free, songs are about $4 to download, however you can download the first 30 seconds of every song in the catalogue for free to check out whether you’d like it and to see how easy/hard the music is to play.

Notestar is perfect for kids who are learning to play chords and who want to play pop music as it makes otherwise boring chord progressions much more interesting. The on-screen music has printed notation and chord charts so students who can’t read music can still play by chords. There is also a feature to change the music to any key and also play at 3/4 and 1/2 speed while practising.

Tim’s Tip: This week, download and explore the app and the catalogue of music available (you can view and search the catalogue online here without even getting the app). Get a feel for how it works and which of your students might enjoy using it. Test it out yourself and then try it out on one of your teenage students.

2. Find out about how other people are using iPads by reading blogs, magazines and following discussion threads.

I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to iPads and I’m always on the lookout for new app recommendations from others. When it comes to buying an iPad and downloading apps, it pays to do some research. Here are some of my favourite resources:

Tim’s Tip: If you haven’t already done so, get a Facebook account and sign up for the groups that I recommend in my post: Top 4 Facebook Groups for Piano Teachers. This is one of the best ways to keep current with trends in music, technology and teaching (and meet teachers from around the world). Set aside a couple of hours this weekend and start doing some research and experimenting at home with apps – you’ll be amazed at what you find.

3. Set engaging practice goals using technology

While many of your teens may have no issue with motivating themselves to practice, there will always be some in your studio who would benefit from a boost. Here are some great practice motivator apps:

  • Scale Blitzer, an Australian app, is one of the best apps for encouraging students to practice scales. Set students some scales to work on and the app will do the motivating for you! It even has an international leader-board of top scores – great for those with a competitive edge.
  • MusicFlashClass is a great app for note recognition. I often ask students to spend 10 minutes on this a day while they are learning the notes on the stave. Both have competitive settings with time limits and count-downs that are great for teens. PianoNotesPro allows students to do the same thing using their MIDI keyboards. It even has a setting that allows students to practice chord inversions, not just notes.
  • Motivating exam students to practice their aural skills can be like pulling teeth! To encourage them, try using one of the following apps: ABRSM, AuralBook, Auralia.

Tim’s Tip: If you have students preparing for exams, trial one of the aural or sight-reading apps and show students how to practice with them at home this week. If you have teens learning to read music, allocate them some time on MusicFlashClass or PianoNotesPro every day at home.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series about motivating teenagers in your studio. They can be such a fun bunch of students to teach and so rewarding when you connect effectively and can make a real difference in their lives.

While sometimes challenging, I get enormous pleasure from inspiring children to play the piano. I remember how much I enjoyed learning music through high school, the kudos I received as a piano player from my peers and the pride expressed by my parents and family. To be able to give that same gift to another young person is priceless.

For even more teaching tips and ideas, make sure you head to my website. Also, don’t forget to get a copy of my free Teen Teaching Toolkit while you’re there.

Good luck and please get in touch with me if you have any questions.

Bio

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Best known for his blog at timtopham.com where he has been sharing teaching resources, tips and repertoire ideas with piano teachers and students since 2011, Tim Topham is also a well-respected presenter, performer and accompanist. Tim is Head of Keyboard at Xavier College and has also taught in Western Australia, Tasmania and the United Kingdom. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, a Bachelor of Music, Diploma of Education and AMusA (Distinction). He has worked in education as a classroom teacher, private studio teacher, head of department and head of campus. His new eBook: Teen Teaching Toolkit may be downloaded from his website: timtopham.com

Tech Tuesday: Moosic Studio Update (and giveaway!)

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I am excited to announce that the version 1.1 update that everyone has been waiting for with the iPad app, Moosic Studio is officially live and kicking! Yes, teachers Moosic Studio now includes invoicing and more!

So let’s find out what everyone will see with the new update. I know billing was the most anticipated, so we will begin there. There are 3 main new features related to billing:

1. Invoicing- (hoorah!) This feature has been one that teachers have been chomping at the bit for. With this feature, teachers will be able to invoice for any period of time. Whether or not you invoice monthly by the semester and such, you can make it happen. If you need to make an adjustment (add a charge, give a discount, etc…) you can. In addition you can easily add flagged student expenses to your invoice so you are able to get reimbursed. When you mark an invoice as paid, Moosic Studio will automatically mark all the associated expenses as “PAID”. Do you have parents that still pay by check? You can now easily capture an image of the check for your records. How convenient is that? The nice thing about the invoicing feature is being able to view a list of invoices for whatever month you need to. You can group them by paid or outstanding so they are easily tracked. If you use Evernote, Dropbox or similar service, you would be able to send their invoices through those services as well as emailing or printing them out.

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2. Per Student Expense tracking-  Part of running a business is making sure expenses on all sides of the coin are tracked. In the Student Detail page, you can now track expenses for students. Just tap on the Student List and then the student, scroll to the bottom and start adding expenses. You can track them entirely independently from the studio expenses. If you collect a yearly “Materials Fee” to pay for materials or events (music, recitals…) you will be able to easily track these expenses with this feature. Maybe you don’t have a materials fee but rather just buy the materials and get reimbursed? You can then add a flag to the expense to be added to the families invoice so you can be sure you are reimbursed!

3. Studio Transactions– This can track both debits (for expenses) and credits (for additional income). This is an important feature especially come tax time. Moosic Studio now allows you to track and itemize studio expenses and additional income (church jobs, accompaniments, etc.) and keep a running balance for it all!

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A few other updates you will find in Moosic Studio:

Dashboard-

– New multi-currency icon
– Cents are no longer displayed
– Large amounts will be displayed properly

General
– “Billing” has been changed to “Financials”
– Students and parents are now displayed with a case insensitive sorting
– Student emails pre-populated with Student and Parent’s email when emailing a lesson

Lesson Creation-
– Changed “Theory” to “Theory Lesson”
– Cost type (Flat Fee & Per Lesson) is now required if the lesson cost is anything other than $0.00
– If lesson frequency is weekly, days of week are now required
– Removed auto-adjustment of dates and times when creating a lesson
– Added lesson summary and confirmation when creating a lesson. This means that users will have the opportunity to review lesson details before they save them. So if you need to make any changes, you can do so until you get it right.

If you are a teacher that held off on buying Moosic Studio but now thinking, darn! I should have bought it, I could really use something like this in my studio! Well, I have the giveaway for you! Carlos is offering one lucky reader a free download of brand new off the press updated app to try! But DO NOT WAIT ONE SECOND to enter! Enter right now because you only have until 10:00pm TONIGHT mountain standard time before I pick a winner! Yes, that is right, one of you lucky teachers will be able to start using Moosic Studio within 24 hours for free if you win! But you can’t win unless you make a comment below on why you want to win Moosic Studio.

Be sure to like Moosic Studio on Facebook so you can stay up to date with this great app! And just a reminder, if you don’t have an iPad (YET!) but know you will be getting one in the near future, go ahead and enter because you can still download the app now. It will sit in your iTunes store until you sync your new iPad. So what are you waiting for, enter now! Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook as well!

Moosic Studio is compatible with the iPad (iOS 5.0 or later) and is available to purchase for $69.99. (Totally worth it when you consider all that it includes and no monthly expenses!) Customer support for this app is superb! Carlos Fontiveros is always willing and able to help teachers navigate around Moosic Studio and always keeps the needs of teachers in mind. Thank you Carlos!

(You can see my original review of Moosic Studio – 6 months ago- before these updates here.)

Blog Makeover (updated IOS apps and more!)

Last week I was busy with a new template for my blog so I can add pages. This is something I wanted to do for awhile but my current template wouldn’t allow. So without further au du… you will now find at the top of the blog the following pages…

Home– Where you will find the recent posts.

IOS Music apps– having this page will make it much easier for me to update on a regular basis. Eventually this will include links, but I wanted to get this page up right away.

Presentations– These are presentations I have given to music teachers. I would love to come present to your group and hope you would keep me in mind.

Reviews– For those who would like me to review their product etc…

Store– What I have available to purchase.

 

Also- Don’t forget tonight by 10:00pm Mountain Time is the last chance to enter the Jazzed About 4th of July giveaway!

Tech Tuesday: iPad VGA Adapter

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Just a little tool tip this week for Tech Tuesday. I am using a free app called Christmas Cyber Scramble during Christmas camp this week. (By the way you can also play this game on the computer!) I use my projector a lot during camps/workshops and wanted to be able to project this app so all the students can see it. The iPad VGA adapter is just what I needed for this. I just plug it from my projector to my iPad and it mirrors everything that is on my iPad so all the students can see the app. Love it!

Just a quick note about the Christmas Cyber Scramble app, we played it yesterday at camp and the kids had fun, it was definitely a more challenging game. The fun thing about this app is you can create players and/or teams. I created two teams. We played up to 10 guesses each. It was a fun and an easy activity to do.