Sticky Teaching Tips | Music Lesson Ideas

Getting what we teach to stick is what we hope for. Unfortunately, we aren’t always able to make it stick. The following ideas may help you focus on what you really want your students to remember, and how you can help them the most.

1) The Main Thing
Students want to know what the main thing you want them to remember is. Their brains are even wired this way, storing the “main thing” and deleting the rest. (If you’ve seen the Disney movie, “Inside Out,” they illustrate this beautifully with memories that look like marbles and employees who are responsible for deleting the memories no longer needed.) The best thing you can do for your students is to decide what you really want them to know and repeat it often.

My main thing is “practice slowly.” I often ask students, Do you ever get better by playing it wrong?” Sometimes, after they’ve played it wrong 10 times in a row I’ll ask them, “ Now that you’ve played it wrong 10 times in a row, what are you good at?” With a smile on their face, they’ll say, “Playing it wrong.” Getting kids to play slowly is a hard sell, but if you say it enough times, some of them will begin to practice that way – or at least believe that you believe it’s the best way. :o)

2) Be Predictable, But Not Boring
Kids love routines. When things are predictable, stress on the brain is reduced and combined with a routine of repeating your “main thing,” your students encode information faster. Just don’t forget to mix it up a little bit to make things interesting.

My students typically begin their lesson at the piano. In the last few minutes, we often experience something new. Sometimes it’s a theory game. Sometimes it’s a lesson about a composer. Recently I ended a lesson by making a video for dad, because he wasn’t there to see his daughter’s wonderful performance of Part of Your World from the Little Mermaid.

What’s your main thing? I’d love to hear about it.


Browse More Piano Sheet Music and Music Theory Posts:

It All Adds Up! | Rhythm Worksheets (Music Theory)
Free Music Theory Worksheets for Kids (Note Names)
Free Beginner Piano Sheet Music | Level 1
Free Beginner Piano Sheet Music | Level 2
10 Beginner Piano Pieces Kids Love to Play
MMF All-In-One Piano Book | Level 1A



How to Make an Animated Banner for

Interested in creating and animated banner for your store? It’s easy, and you’ll be able to quickly grab the attention of your visitors to tell them what’s great about your resources …. and you!


What You’ll Need:
Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
Adobe Illustrator, Paint or Word Processing Program (Basically, a program to create images)

Step 1
Create 3 or 4 images for your animated banner. Share your top resources. Ask people to follow you. The images should be 450px x 150px. If you’d like to have the gray in you banner match the gray on, here’s the HEX code: F1F0F0.

Step 2
Open images in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and follow the instructions in this video.

Step 3

Host your gif animated image. If you own a website, host the images in your images folder. If you have a WordPress or Blogger account you can host the image there.

Step 4
Copy the image code from the HTML view. It will look like the image below. In the middle will be the name of your animated gif file.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 10.39.35 AM

Step 5
Here’s the final step. Paste that code into your quote box on, and “Save”. That’s it.

Now you’re marketing on TpT like the big guys!



Make More, Teach Less | A Comprehensive Guide to Running a Music Camp or Workshop Review

A fellow teacher in the area where I live has been busy at work on a new resource for music teachers, and I expressed an interest in sharing it. If you’re a piano teacher or general music teacher, this new resource might be just what you’re looking for to help keep income flowing in over the summer months.

Make More, Teach Less | A Comprehensive Guide to Running a Music Camp or Workshop – Review
Piano teacher, Jennifer Foxx, consistently has great things to share, so I didn’t have to think twice about sharing her new resource with you. Make More, Teach Less exceeded my expectations in it’s completeness and usefulness. Her guide is presented as a video series which is divided into 9 modules including:

Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Logistics
Module 3: Structure
Module 4: Ground Rules and Policies
Module 5: Fees, Licensing & Liability
Module 6: Marketing
Module 7: Lesson Plan Tips
Module 8: Do’s and Don’ts
Module 9: Conclusion


The video series also offers a premium upgrade. If you decide on the upgraded package you’ll also get things like:

1) A 13 Page Printable Workbook
2) Lesson Plan Templates
3) 20 Popular Games & Activities

If you’re an elementary general music teacher you’ll be well prepared with the basic package. If running a music camp is new to you the 20 Popular Games & Activities alone is worth the price of the upgrade. It’s the ingredient that will make the experience come alive for the kids, including relay races, game show style games, circle games with a musical twist, water play, etc.

Interested in starting a music camp or workshop of your own, but would like to avoid expensive mistakes and wasted time? Jennifer shares her 20 years of experience in this wonderful new resource.


Take a Video Tour

Make More, Teach Less Video Tour of Jennifer’s new resource


Purchase Music Camp Guide

Make More, Teach Less | A Comprehensive Guide to Running a Music Camp or Workshop – 49/Basic Package (Affiliate Link)

Here’s a Coupon Code to save 15%: CAMPLAUNCHPARTY
It’s good though Monday, Feb 15th, 2016.


Orchestral Instrument Families Lesson and Printable Resources

Piano lab is a great place to learn about piano lesson specific needs, such as note names, rhythms, and intervals. But why not extend things once in a while to enrich your student music lesson experience. Include a lesson on the instruments of the orchestra.

If you’re not a big advocate of lab time, here are a few things to consider.

  • Visual learners like doing things such as completing worksheets, drawing pictures, or browsing websites.
  • Auditory learners listen to enhance their understanding. If they hear their piece performed correctly, for example, they stand a much better chance of playing it well.
  • Kinesthetic learners learn most everything by doing. They build it, disassemble it, and play it to understand.

and don’t forget the growth potential in thinking skills….

  • Bloom’s taxonomy outlines the areas of thinking skills from low-level thinking skills, such as remembering and understanding, through higher order thinking skills, such as evaluating and creating.

Lab time can take a student to every one of these learning domains, and provide them with an opportunity for lifelong success beyond anything you might imagine. All you have to do it provide the opportunity.
Convinced that lab time is a good thing?

Here’s a list of excellent online and printable resources:

Online Info – San Francisco Symphony Orchestra Website: 1) Instruments of the Orchestra, 2) Music Lab, and 3) What’s Up at the Orchestra? – New York Philharmonic Kidzone 1) Instrument Storage Room, and 2) Instrument Lab.

Printable Info
Hey Kids, It’s a Flute
Hey Kids, It’s an Oboe
Hey Kids, It’s a Clarinet
Hey Kids, It’s a Bassoon
Hey, Kids, It’s a Trumpet
Hey Kid’s, It’s a French Horn
Hey Kids, It’s a Trombone
Hey Kids, It’s a Tuba
Hey Kids, It’s a Violin
Hey Kids, It’s a Viola
Hey Kids, It’s a Cello
Hey Kids It’s a String Bass
Hey Kids, It’s a Harp

Free Printable Worksheets
Woodwind Family | Worksheet
Brass Family | Worksheet
String Family | Worksheet
Percussion Family | Worksheet

Printable Game
Zin, Zin, Zin A Violin | Musical Instrument Identification Game


Browse Piano Sheet Music and Music Theory Posts:

Nursery Rhyme Piano Sheet Music for Children
Carnegie Hall Park (Matchbox Parking) | Music Theory Board Game
Free Beginner Piano Sheet Music/Level 1
Free Beginner Piano Sheet Music/Level 2
Free Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 3
Free Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 4
Free Easy Piano Sheet Music/Level 5


Best Practices for Professional Piano Teachers

The perfect thing to do doesn’t always occur to us. Hopefully this post will provide piano teachers with a few tips to make sure we’re always doing the right thing.

Here goes…

  • Don’t copy sheet music. It’s illegal. The only exception to this rule is if the sheet music is provided free of charge by a website the expressly allows reprinting. Even then, make sure they own the copyright.
  • Return parent phone call and emails promptly.
  • Return parent/student inquiries promptly, even if you don’t have room for them.
  • Establish and maintain fair lesson policies and rates.
  • Be supportive of other teachers even if your don’t agree with everything they teach. After all, you’re hoping for the same treatment.
  • Support younger teachers. You were young once.
  • When serving as an adjudicator focus on providing the student with positive and helpful comments, rather than critical comments about the teacher.
  • Allow students to complete lessons with a teacher before accepting them into your studio.
  • Thank fellow teachers for referrals. You would appreciate it if they did the same.

That’s all I’ve got. As always, your comments are encouraged.



Music Studio Management: The Art of Raising Your Rates

Part of teaching piano (or any instrument/voice) is the management of your business. Many teachers don’t care much for the business side of things, but these this need to be addressed… so here goes.

Inflation happens, so music lesson rates need to change. Housing, cars and food are all getting more expensive. They understand. The parents of your students receive raises every year, so why not you.

Okay now for a plan.

How Much Should I Raise My Rates?
In my experience, and the experience of other teachers, it’s best to raise your rates only a dollar or two at a time. Parents will think, “A dollar? Sure that’s nothing.” If you try for five dollars (because you haven’t raised your rates in awhile) you might find that many of your students will quit. I read about one teacher who shared that when she raised her rates five dollars she lost 9 students.

How Often Should I Raise My Rates?
It’s my thought that you should raise them annually. The reason being, you can raise them by a dollar each year, and avoid the “shock value” that a larger amount brings.

When Should I Raise My Rates?
I have always found that the best time for raising lesson rates is in the Fall, as school is starting. New students are signing up, and it’s a time for new things for your students. If you have a new student that signs up in July, just start them at the new rate. It will save you the grief of explaining why you are raising their rates after only one month.

I wish you the best in the management of your studio, and as always I welcome your comments.




5 Tips for Teaching the Young Pianist (Age 3-6)

Most school teachers are faced with teaching only one grade level. As a piano teacher you must develop strategies for teaching students as young as three years of age.

This post will address the challenge of teaching students ages 3-6 years of age.

1) Lessons Length – Determine a lesson length that your student can manage. It might be as little as 15 minutes per week. Consider spending half of the time at the piano, and the other half at the kitchen table learning note names and rhythmic values.

2) Questions – When you ask a question, give them time to answer. This really just good teaching. With this age group you will really have to be patient. It might take young students a while to come up with an answer.

3) Keep Instructions Short – Throughout the lesson, instructors should set achievable goals with very few words, and then attempt them quickly. Lost time will result in distractions and loss of focus.

4) Movement – Young students need to move. Be creative with your approach, giving them opportunities to learn through movement. Example: Ask them what a whole note is, and then let them show you by placing four blocks together on the floor to represent four beats.

5) Encourage – Each and every time a student meets your goal, congratulate them. Your goal should always be to build up the child and create in them a love for learning.