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Attracting Adult Piano Students

Adult piano students can be the best group of students you will ever teach.
They have their own transportation, pay their own bills, are responsible for their own practice and are taking lessons because they WANT to.
How many times have you heard: “When I was 9 my parents let me quit piano and wish I had stuck with it”?  These are the adults that willingly enroll their children in lessons (for the long run) or enroll themselves for lessons.
After an eight year dry spell from teaching adults, I decided to start again, this time using Musikgarten‘s adult method.  It is written to be used in a comfortable group setting where your students will not feel embarrassed to sing, move and enjoy.
Here is what I did to attract adult piano students:

Free classes with strings attached.

Classes are free unless you miss a class – that is the class you pay for.  At the time of registration you hand over a check for $160 – the book/cd are paid for separately with check or cash.  Every time you are absent, for any reason, I earn $20.  At the end of the 8 weeks I will return your check or write you a new one if you were ever absent. Simple.  You probably won’t make any money those first eight weeks, but now you have a group of students who WANT to return because they learned so much and you are such a fabulous teacher!

Did it work? I have offered it twice and it worked beautifully both times.  I have only offered this when starting a new class.  But they signed up for 3 more sessions and now  half of them are still taking private lessons at my studio.

If you already teach using the Musikgarten piano curriculum, it will be an easy transition to the adult method.  If you are new to this fantastic program – go for the training!

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Piano Teacher Challenge!

(see updates here)

So, dear piano teachers…how many of us practice every day? You know, like what we expect our piano students to do? I know some of you perform every week in church or give a recital once a year.  But what about the rest of us? Your piano skills might not be of the concert pianist caliber, but are you maintaining and polishing the skills you have?
This is exactly what I was thinking this morning on that darn treadmill!

So I decided to challenge myself. For many years I have been relying on my ability to sightread easily – and fake it – through easy pieces.  But today I am challenging myself to play 12 scales and a new sonata or sonatina every day – for 30 days!

If you need to bring back some discipline into your piano practice, join me!  I will keep myself accountable by posting my progress every day.

Off to the piano I go!

Day 1

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Why students don’t practice

As I reviewed “The Practice Revolution” by Philip Johnston, I thought it would be a good idea to share his reasons of why students don’t practice.  Read below and check to see if any of these could be lurking around your home.

  1. Time Management Skills – there is not a set time for daily practice.
  2. Reading Problems – note reading that is… for those who have started reading music. And for my students this is equivalent to not using the Practice CD.
  3. Lack of parental help– At Dorla’s Piano Studio (DPS) parents are required to practice with their child at least up to book 4. Those in book 4, 5 and 6 should have a parent check that they have accomplished everything on the weekly assignment page.
  4. Parental Interference – at DPS that would mean parents who fail to attend the last 15 minutes of class and then confuse the child at home.
  5. A week with wings – children are soooo busy nowadays that it seems as if time flies.  If piano practice is not on the schedule it will not get done.
  6. Impossible Workload – if you feel the weekly assignments are too much for your child – make sure you let me know ASAP!  Your child might be in the wrong class.
  7. Not clear on what they are hoping to achieve – have you checked the assignment book?  If you do not understand – give me a call!
  8. Discovering that practice doesn’t work – WHAT!!? If your child comes to class excited about his/her practice at home and leaves class unhappy, and you do not know why….then we need to have a parent/teacher conference today!  I need to make sure you are both understanding what is required at home each week.

Practice is 50% of the learning process. If things are not working out at home – let’s talk about it soon.

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Summer Piano Olympics 2010

We had a great time during Summer Piano Olympics 2010, 4 days of synchronized playing, scale marathons and team musical sports.  Family members and friends joined us for the closing ceremonies which included  the award ceremony, procession of flags, synchronized keyboard performance and the passing of the Olympic torch.

Congratulations to all!

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Why include poetry in music class?

keys and book

Musikgarten uses the poetry of Aileen Fisher, for its unique ability to express a child’s perceptions of the natural world.  It is appealing to parents and children alike because of the childlike quality in the imagery it evokes, its expressive nature, and the sheer beautiful use of language.

In today’s world, language is often used incorrectly.  Even when there are no mistakes, language is rarely used beautifully.  Your children are in one of the most important periods of language development, building their expressive vocabularies based largely on the language they hear around them. That is why it is particularly important that we take every opportunity to model using our language beautifully, and Aileen Fisher’s poetry gives us the chance to do just that.

The poetry of Ms. Fisher ties in contextually with the Music Makers: At Home lessons, and her poems are often short enough for some of the older children to memorize.  Some of the longer poems are perfect for reciting slowly and exploring the movements suggested by the text, as we do in My Homeplace unit.   And still others, are just meant to be listened to, enjoying the sound of beautiful language being used expressively.

(this article is based on MK notes from J. Hannagan)