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Sunday, February 19, 2017

3 Tips for Including Adult Students in Your Studio

Adult music students are my absolute favorite to have in my studio. For a while though, I didn't really consider the possibility of teaching adults. I thought that people often either did something in childhood or didn't and that usually dictated what they continued with beyond their schooling years. However, there's definitely a market for teaching adults. I've seen two different types of adult lesson seekers: those who have had a dream to learn an instrument their entire life and they're finally pursuing the dream OR those who played an instrument back in their school days and they want to relearn that instrument(I had one adult flute student who wanted to be able to play duets with her son who was starting to learn clarinet in middle school).

Adult Students are the best because...

1. They actually practice.
I don't know about you but I find that lessons are so much more pleasant when students practice. The great thing about adult students is that most of them actually want to practice. Unlike students who are sometimes encouraged to or forced to take lessons by their parents, adult students typically spend their own money on lessons to learn something new that they actually want to do.

2. They have fully developed attention spans and brains.
Don't get me wrong, I love teaching adorable 5 year olds. They're full of energy and excitement. But sometimes it can be exhausting to keep them on track. With adult students, they can easily stay focused for 30 or 60 minute lessons. I've found these lessons to be much less tiring.

3. They're...adults.
Sometimes it's nice to talk to another adult. While they likely won't make you a cute, thoughtful hand drawn memento for your desk, they speak your language. Oh, and they wash their hands, which is a huge plus when strep throat is making it's rounds.

3 Tips for Teaching Adult Students

1. Make sure you have a method book for adults.
Many method books have bright colors, cartoons, or language for children. While that's great for your younger students, your adult students will definitely appreciate an adult looking book. Make sure you have some method books to recommend. For piano students, I use Alfred's Adult All-In-One Piano Book and for flute students, I use 
Rubank's Flute Beginner Method Book(their beginner book is called "elementary" but the word elementary is used in the sense that it is simpler or easier and not that it is geared towards elementary aged students). 

Please note, these links are affiliate links but are the books I use in my actual studio.

2. Do a pre-lesson assessment of their musical skills.
It is really important to ask questions about prior musical experiences with adult beginners. Initially one of my adult students told me that she can't read or play. After asking her some questions, I found out that she actually played flute for three years in middle school and thought she didn't remember anything. She thought wrong by the way - although rusty at first, she quickly began remembering how to play flute and read music and was able to progress much quicker than a true beginner. Knowing this experience changed my approach to teaching her and allowed her to progress further.

Some questions to consider:
  • Have you ever played any instruments?
  • Were you involved in band, choir, orchestra, or any other ensembles?
  • Have you participated in a church choir or church band?
  • Can you read any rhythms or music notes?
3. Find your student's dream music.
A lot of times, your adult student has a dream song or piece of music that they'd always wished they could play. Because they don't have a school ensemble or contest to keep them interested and motivated, I use this dream music as a way to keep them engaged. I have them pick out a few pieces or songs and see if we can include a small chunk into each week's lesson. Right now, one of my student's is working on a Cristofori's Dream, a piece he's always dreamed of playing(ha..ha...ha?).

So tell me, do you have adult students in your studio? What do you love about teaching adult students and what are your challenges?

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Stress Relief Tips for the Music Teacher

Being a music teacher can bring a lot of stress. From teaching classes(sometimes to the entire student population) to putting spectacular performances, it's definitely easy to feel the pressure. Check out these tips for relieving stress and keeping calm.

Being a music teacher can bring a lot of stress. From teaching classes(sometimes to the entire student population) to putting spectacular performances, it's definitely easy to feel the pressure. Check out these quick tips for relieving stress and keeping calm.

Find a Happiness 9-1-1 Song
This is a tip from one of my favorite podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In one of her episodes, she suggests finding a song that will give you a little pick me up when you hear it. It might be an upbeat Top 40 song or a nostalgic song that brings you back. This can be a go to song or playlist to play on your way home from a rough day or during a break to get you through the rest of the day. Need some inspiration? There's a pre-made Spotify playlist from the podcast!

Take a Short Guided Meditation Break
Meditation has so many benefits. At first, I was intimidated by meditation. I had always envisioned meditation consisting of someone sitting by themselves on a hard surface for a very, very long time. It doesn't have to be that way! I use a wonderful app on my phone called Meditation Studio. The first course breaks down how to meditate in easy 5-10 minute chunks. After completing the starter course, you can choose guided meditations that focus specifically on stress relief that can be as short as 2 minutes. This can be a perfect break in between classes or at lunch to de-stress.

Keep a Pick Me Up Box
Find or purchase a box and fill it with good memories of your teaching career. I recommend plastic since it will hold up a little better rather than a cardboard box. Fill it with student notes or drawings, print out positive parent emails, favorite concert programs, pictures of music making, and anything that will bring a smile to your face. It's great to have the reminder of what I do what I do, especially after a receiving a tough email or having an observation that didn't go exactly as planned. I also put some of my favorite chocolate in my box. You may even want to add a small gift card to your favorite coffee shop to use "in case of emergency" for those extra stressful days.

How do you stay calm during stressful days? Comment below!

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rhythm & Poetry

Cross curricular activities are great. But sometimes it's tough to marry two subject areas evenly. While using songs to teach addition, grammar, and other concepts is helpful for students, it may not truly be teaching or reinforcing musical concepts. Incorporating rhythm and poetry into a lesson can give both subjects equal attention.

Marry rhythm and poetry together into one activity with rhythm haikus. These fun, easy poems are a great opportunity to incorporate cross curricular activities into the music classroom.

I like to use haiku poems. They are fun, fairly easy to write, and come with a rich history. Students may even be learning about them in their reading class! A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem written in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. When translating this into music, I use one syllable=quarter note and two syllables=eighth notes. 

Pick a topic that you want your students to write about. Depending on the grade level and student ability you may choose to provide them with a word list or you may want to brainstorm words with students and categorize them into 1 or 2 syllable words. To help students determine how many syllables a word has, I have them place their hand under their chin and count the number of times their chin taps their hand while they say the word. If a word has more than 2 syllables, you may consider discarding it or fitting it across 2 rhythms (e.g. butterfly as 2 eighths and a quarter). 

Guide students through the haiku 5-7-5 pattern and give them time to work on their own. After writing their poem, students can practice saying the rhythms and/or saying the words rhythmically.

Interested in incorporating rhythm haikus into your classroom but short on time? Check out my pre-made ones! They come with rhythm sheets, word suggestions, and slides briefly explaining haikus and how to write them.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Costume Ideas for Music Teachers

Monday, September 26, 2016

Volunteer Organization Made Easy

Do you want to take your students on a field trip but dread volunteer sign ups? Did your last party or celebration have 15 desserts and 1 side dish? Do you want an easy way to display class wish lists and ensure you get what you want? Sign Up Genius is the answer!

From field trips to celebration parties, organizing volunteers can be a stressful experience. Luckily, there's a solution for you! Check out this post for a music teacher's favorite tool.

Pick a Theme That Works
Sign up Genius offers countless themes for your sign ups! I love this feature. The themes are neat and clean. Volunteers can easily see what kind of event they're signing up for just from the picture. 

All Dates in One Place
One great feature of Sign Up Genius is that if you have a recurring event, such as required chaperones at a rehearsal or event, you can put all the dates on one sign up. Volunteers can easily see where there's a need and what works best for their schedule. You can also keep track of who has signed up in real time. You no longer have the stress of keeping track no of paper slips that often come in past the due date.

Send Reminders
One of my favorite features is the reminder feature. Sign Up Genius will automatically send out a reminder email to your chaperones for upcoming events. This takes the stress out of sending out reminder emails or text messages.

I Love Sign Up Genius!
This website has saved me so much time and agony! From signing up ushers for concerts to organizing post concert celebrations, this has streamlined volunteer organization. It is easy to set up, looks clean, and best of all, it's FREE to use!
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Obwisana - A Singing and Passing Game from Ghana

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

5 TED Talks for Music Teachers

I love TED talks! They are just long enough to fit a substantial amount of information and short enough to watch in one sitting. These are a few of my favorite TED talks to inspire music teachers all around!

As music teachers, sometimes we need a little inspiration! These 5 TED talks will give you just that. From serious questions to fun solutions, these TED talks are sure to inspire and excite!

Eric Whitacre - A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong

Technology is transforming so quickly. It is amazing what happens when you combine technology and music. This TED talk features Eric Whitacre talking about his virtual choir.

Stefon Harris - There Are No Mistakes on the Bandstand

Sometimes as music educators, we can get hung up on perfection and can beat ourselves up over mistakes. Mistakes are only often perceived as mistakes because of the way we react to them. It's a good lesson for us as teachers and for our students as well.

Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity?

There is certainly a reason why this is one of the most popular TED talks of all time. As music educators, we value creativity. Ken Robinson is a wonderful advocate for nurturing students' creativity.

Rita Pierson - Every Kid Needs A Champion

This is my absolute all time favorite education related TED talk. Rita Pierson reminds us as educators that it is important to believe in our students and foster positive relationships with them.

TED Staff - It's TED, The Musical!

For those of you who love musicals, check out this TED talk! This one is just for fun. Sometimes you need a little laugh after a long school day!

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