“What’s beside your piano?” The answer to this question is probably as telling as the question of “What’s inside your purse?” The items you keep beside your piano tell a lot about you as a piano teacher. But whether you have a bag full of tricks or simply an old wind-up metronome… try adding these 4 new items to your piano teaching studio this week:
1. A Studio Mascot
Yup, you heard me! Our studio has “Treblesome Tiger”. You can choose a mascot who reflects your studio, your area of the world or just your own personal taste. Grab a stuffy and give it a name 🙂 Your studio mascot goes home with a different student each week. He becomes their piano practice buddy as he “lives” on their piano during the 7 days until his return. The mascot comes with a practice log where your student records their piano practice minutes for the week, their favourite piece title from that week, and two things their mascot reminded them to do while practising. This gets your students thinking critically about their practice time at home and injects a bit of creativity into their time away from you. Students love reading back through the log at what their peers wrote (and comparing minutes practiced!)
2. Your Smart Phone or Tablet
If you want to connect with your piano students you need to integrate some technology into their piano lessons. Kids of all ages are used to technology being an almost constant part of their daily life. This technology is usually in the form of a phone it seems – so if you have a smart phone use it! Your phone has some pretty cool tools that are either meant for piano instruction, or are easily adaptable to be useful. So, turn off your ringer, but put your phone beside you for easy access to youtube, instagram, garageband, a video camera, note-naming games, twitter and more!
3. Highlighters and Mini Post-it Notes
I’m a big proponent of writing directly on a student’s sheet music. Having some bright and cheerful highlighters make finding patterns, sequences, intervals, accidentals etc. much more enjoyable for your visually-motivated piano students. Mini post-it notes prevent the “Oh, I forgot about that piece…” syndrome if you use them to mark the pages your student should look at each time they practice. For piano students who habitually don’t read their assignment books these post-its keep them on track… and I often write my assignment for the week on a larger post-it that I stick directly to the top of the page. It’s a constant reminder each time they open their piano books.
4. Congrats Cards
Congrats cards are mini certificates pre-printed on post-card sized card stock. Every other week I write the student’s name and something they did particularly well during their piano lesson. They take it home with them and it becomes refrigerator bragging rights. This is a great visual representation of the importance of positive teaching. Your compliments and “congrats” mean so much to your students who are desperate to please. Rather than sending them out the door with a generic “Good job!” you instead are forcing yourself to give them positive feedback on something specific. Kids respond best to genuine praise and will rise to the occasion.
These 4 items are easy to add to your piano teaching studio and will provide a welcome change for both you and your student! Happy Teaching 🙂