An iPad (or other tablet… for ease of writing we’re going to say iPad) seems to be on the wish list of many piano teachers nowadays. We all hear about the wonderful apps for piano students, there are lists and lists of them on the internet (we have a great one over at PianoGeekWeek.com!), and it’s so easy to click “purchase” and download those cute little icons.
But then what?
Finding a Balance Between Technology and Teaching
Are you concerned that adding an iPad to your lessons will cut into your teaching time? Are you worried that playing “games” during lesson time is not the best use of your precious time with your student? Do you wonder if an iPad can actually enhance your teaching or if it’s really just something you can use as a glorified reward for good behaviour?
All very good questions.
For an iPad to really work for you in lesson time you need to find a good balance between technology and teaching time. Here’s how!
1. Choose piano apps with criteria in mind
Shopping in the app store is like a trip to your local Dollar Tree. Everything (almost) is 99 cents! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “bargain bin” hype, happily clicking through the suggested apps. But instead of purchasing and using apps in a haphazard way, choose apps based on clear criteria. When first adding an iPad to your piano teaching studio, decide which part of your lesson would you like to add technology to (rhythm practice, note reading practice, performance practice etc. etc.) and search for apps based on that criteria only.
2. Don’t focus only on the typical piano apps
There are many apps that you can use in conjunction with your normal teaching that aren’t necessarily music apps… other educational and drawing apps can be modified to be useful in piano teaching situations without completely replacing your own instruction. Using an iPad as an assistant rather than as a replacement adds that fun, techie aspect to your lessons without changing who you are as a teacher. Be creative… how can other non-music-related apps be used in your lessons to enhance what you already do as a teacher?
3. Teach your student to read music off of a music reader
This is one skill that is going to become rapidly important as the digital music world grows in leaps and bounds. Huge binders of music are quickly becoming extinct as performers instead opt for the handy and slick digital music readers. But playing from a screen rather than sheet music takes practice, and using lesson time to learn this skill is valuable. Give your students a leg-up and have them practice reading digital sheet music on your iPad. Try Yamaha’s NoteStar app; it’s not just a music reader, but also provides a very cool background track to play along with! It’s all the benefit of duets… but your duet partner is seriously cool.
4. Assign games for home practice
You’ll squeeze more learning time from your students if you assign Piano app practice time at home. Many parents now have an iPhone or Android and most iPad/android tablet apps are compatible. Request daily practice with flashcard, rhythm, note-reading and theory apps and you’ll be guaranteed that your students will be happy to oblige! I’m not a huge fan of sitting and watching my student play games on the iPad in lesson time; but having them complete these skill-building games at home/in the car/at the Doctor’s office etc. etc. is a real plus!
5. Use your iPad for yourself too!
The iPad can be so much more than just a glorified video game machine. It has the capability to organize schedules, take notes, keep track of your book library, record and edit student videos, create worksheets… it can even be used to offer online piano lessons! Spend some time each week researching how the iPad can enhance your piano teaching life. Just a few dollars spent on apps can really make a difference to your productivity.
Can you teach piano lessons these days without an iPad? Absolutely! Can an iPad enhance your piano lessons? Most definitely. With a careful balance of technology and teaching, you can inject some innovation into your piano teaching studio and enjoy the benefits it will provide to both your students and to you.
One of the coolest uses of the iPad in a piano teaching studio is the ability to publish compositions. And, if your piano kids are using “The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff” to learn how to compose, they’re definitely going to want their amazing creations in print! If you’re not currently teaching your students to compose, this is the perfect time to start. We’ve taken all of the “Where do I even start?” away with this hilarious and useful book.