Just the other day I saw our paper girl taking a break on the curb… texting. This is not usually something that draws my attention, except for the fact that our paper girl is only nine years old!
Yes… these days everyone has a cell phone, including my piano students… and probably yours. And, if you’re like me, you’ve no doubt had to implement a “turn the cell phone off during piano lessons” rule. After all, our ever-connected teens become completely distracted if the phone rings, tweets, buzzes, or vibrates.
Well… for the next couple of weeks, I’m throwing my own rule out the window. Because, although my piano students won’t be allowed to text, tweet, or talk during lesson time, their cell phones will be put to great use.
Cell Phones in Piano Lessons; Can it Work?
Here’s 4 proactive ways you can deal with teenagers and their cell phones:
1. I make use of the video recording function on my kids’ smartphones a lot. It’s a great way to provide some visual feedback on their playing. No matter how many times you may tell a student something, it’s always much more effective if you can tell them and show them at the same time “See your wrist right there? Let’s change that.” This way you aren’t interrupting them as they play, but you aren’t missing that teaching moment. If you have Apple TV you can then immediately broadcast their video to a larger screen. Very cool; you’ll have their undivided attention. The best part of this is they can take this video with them when they leave and can watch it all week!
2. I’ve tried practice diaries with my piano teens and, to be totally honest, they haven’t worked. They’re either empty at the end of the week or else I can tell they’ve quickly filled them in in the car on their way to their piano lesson. (I can tell this because I used to do the exact same thing as a teenage piano student.) Instead, my teens are going to Tweet me their practice notes. They’ll have to come up with 140 characters that describe what they worked on, what went well, what went wrong. With a hashtag that keeps them organized (for example #adamspractice) it will keep a running log of everything they’ve done for the week and I can check in whenever I want. Let’s face it… pencils and pens are on their way out!
3. Want to keep track of your teen’s practice hours? Have them “check in” to their piano bench on Facebook each time they sit down to practice. This is also cool because it will show up on their Friends’ newsfeeds as “Julianna is at – Her Piano Bench” if you set it up as such. You can also have them “check in” to your piano studio – great word of mouth advertising on their often large social networks! If you need help making this work check out this link and if privacy is a concern do some research first to be sure your settings are as they should be.
4. Your teens’ smart phones can also be used as a motivator if you harness their social media adoration. Snap an Instagram photo of the piece they recently completed, share a performance video you recorded on their Facebook page (or your studio’s Facebook page), Tweet about something specific they recently did to impress you and tag them so they see your Tweet… the possibilities are endless.
Relevant Piano Lessons = Happy Students = Growing Studio
By making piano lessons relevant to your teenagers in as many ways as possible, you will have more success in bridging these tough years when piano students typically lose interest and quit. And with teens, relevancy is often found by involving their friends in somehow. So, say “okay” to their smart phones in a way that is productive and watch their motivation soar!
Motivated students are happy students. Happy students come back year after year, and turn in to referral-generating machines. For more great tips on keeping your students motivated and your studio growing, check out our teacher’s guide, Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers.