Before having kids, I was a very linear worker. I would start a task and not stray until completion. Of course, keeping my linear course back then was easy… there was nobody asking me to make another snack, to play inside a cardboard box, or to put a bandaid on an invisible cut.
These days, things are much, much different. I can now make dinner… inside a cardboard box… while healing a plethora of invisible wounds. Parenting has made me a multitasking superhero and a much better piano teacher.
Today I wanted to share with you some creative multi-tasking strategies I use to squeeze every last drop out of a 30 minute piano lesson…
Strategy 1 – How Does That Make You Feel?
Lesson notes are the telephone wires that keep the teacher-parent-student communication triangle functioning smoothly. But writing lesson notes during lesson time can be less than productive for your students. So, include your piano students in the lesson note process.
Let your piano lesson note-writing double as a self-reflection activity. Instead of writing notes on your own that read something like, “Remember dynamics in Monster Truck Mayhem” (Okay…now I totally need to write a piece with that title!), ask your students to complete sentences that are constructed something like this:
- I’m going to remember to (fill in the blank) when playing Monster Truck Mayhem because it made the piece sound really (fill in the blank) OR
- Even though (fill in the blank) was difficult when I first played Monster Truck Mayhem, next week it will be easier because I will (fill in the blank) when practicing at home.
Strategy 2 – Tell Me About Your Day
A good piano lesson environment is built upon a good student-teacher relationship. And a good student-teacher relationship begins with conversational bonding at the beginning of each lesson. The problem is that some students can talk and talk and talk if given the free reign to talk and talk and talk.
So instead of beginning a lesson with an open-ended discussion, tie some ear training activities into your conversational bonding. Tell your students that you are going to play either minor or major chords. If they hear a minor chord they have to tell you something that they did not like about their day. If they hear a major chord they have to tell you something that was particularly exciting about their day.
Be creative with this activity. Notes played staccato can trigger conversation about high-energy moments in your students’ days events of the day while notes played legato can trigger conversation about the lower-key events of the day.
Strategy 3 – Lost in the Bottomless Backpack
There is something magical about a piano studio in the way it can transform the simplest backpack or music bag into a “Mary Poppins-like” bottomless sack. If you’re growing tired of watching precious minutes slip away as a student rifles through a backpack try this… hang some hooks in your waiting room.
Then, train your students to arrive at piano lessons five minutes early, hang their backpacks on a hook, remove all required lesson materials and wait at your door with a huge smile that says, “I’m ready to rock!”.
Strategy 4 – Back to Back Piano Games
Setting up piano games can sometimes eat into lesson time. So, try being flexible with your piano lesson routines to eliminate set-up time. Piano games do not always have to come at the end of a lesson… piano games are an enjoyable way to start a piano lesson too.
Instead of using piano games at the end of a lesson only, avoid extra set-up by playing a piano game at the end of a lesson with one student and playing that same game at the beginning of the next student’s lesson. This way you’re only setting up a piano game every other lesson.
Strategy 5 – Extra Security To Help With Disruption
Do you have students who spend the first five to seven minutes evading anything to do with piano lessons? Are they disruptive? Do they tear around your studio as you try to lure them to the bench?
Stop the chase! And, instead, insist that Mom or Dad accompany these students through your studio door and directly onto the piano bench. Then, invite Mom or Dad to stay for the first 5 minutes of the lesson to help set a calm tone for the rest of the lesson while you get right down to business.
While many students will quickly get into ship shape form with Mom or Dad in the room, for other students, Mom or Dad may be a further distraction. If this is the case…avoid this strategy altogether as doing so may ALSO save you lesson time! 🙂
Are You A Multi-Tasking Superhero?…
We would love to hear any tips and tricks you use to save time in piano lessons. Tell us about your multi-tasking superpower in the comments below…