Category Archives: Teaching Aids

Back to School Calendar and Post Cards

Calendar-2015-16

Scheduling Calendar 2015-16

I remember when Arlene (a wonderful piano teacher/judge) showed me her studio calendar. It had dates on the sides and her piano studio schedule typed in the middle. I had never seen a calendar quite like this so I set about making one. By putting this calendar on the cover of my students’ binders, I solved the problem, once and for all, of remembering when events were scheduled.

I also added something that is one of the smartest things I ever did. I put in a “Deadline to be Memorized” date. If you have ever sweated it out before a student performance and the piece is still not memorized, you know what I’m talking about.

So I have a firm memorization date and it has really taken a lot of stress out of festivals and recitals.

Some teachers have asked me if I let students play in my recital if they don’t have their music memorized by a certain date, and the answer is yes, I do let them play!  There is always some kind of work-around: a back up piece, using the music, or playing a duet. My students know I am really big on back-up pieces. But for events such as festivals where parents pay money and students get a grade, I’m firm about the memorization deadline.

Today I present my 2015-2016 academic calendar. It is designed for you to print, re-insert it into your printer and using you favorite word processing program, typing your schedule of events and holidays for each month.

Set margins about 2 inches on each side and about 1.5″– 2″ from the top. After printing, insert it in the clear cover of their binder. For good measure, email a copy to parents.

To save ink and paper,  type and print your schedule on blank paper and hold it under my calendar in a bright window. Then you can see how well your typing will fit. Adjust your layout as necessary and save if you want to use it next year because I usually use about the same margins.

I made this to be an ink-saving design, with just a little color to make it fun. I drew everything, including the pattern on the border. The color you see on the screen will not be the printed color. Mine looks dark navy blue when I print it. Blue on a monitor is hard to match on desktop printers. If you’re a member of MTNA, don’t forget the discount at Office Depot/Office Max.

I’ve also included some printable post cards to remind parents when lessons resume.

I make this calendar every year, and once your students get used to it, they will always want one!

 

9 Comments

Filed under Teaching Aids, Teaching Business

Piano Adventures® Player

 

Piano Adventures® Player is copyrighted by Dovetree Productions, Inc.

Piano Adventures® Player is copyrighted by Dovetree Productions, Inc.

During TMTA Elizabeth Gutierrez announced that the Fabers have a new iPad and iPhone app, Piano Adventures Player, to go along with their piano method, Piano Adventures. This is a free app, with in-app purchases for more music. [Disclosure: I am not associated with Piano Adventures and I was not compensated in any way for this review. The opinions are my own.]

This purpose of Piano Adventures Player is for students to play pieces from the Piano Adventures method books with high quality musical accompaniments. The accompaniments are lots of fun to play along with.

When you open the app, on the top of the left hand side there is a menu where you can select an individual level of Piano Adventures. So far, there are 4 levels in the app. Each level includes 3 free pieces from the book.

Once you are in a level, select the tab “Get More Songs” and you are taken to a page where there is a $4.99 in-app purchase for the accompaniment tracks for the Method, Performance, and Technique books of that level.

Piano Adventures Player is easy to use with your acoustic piano. Select your level, set the tempo, and start playing along with the accompaniments. I like the visual representation of the count-off so you know exactly when to come in. You do not need any other equipment but a good set of speakers is nice.

If you have a MIDI keyboard or piano, there are 2 other ways to play along with the accompaniments:

  • In the Follow Mode, the accompaniment will follow along with the student’s tempo.
  • In the Wait Mode, the accompaniment will wait until the student plays the correct notes.

In order to connect your iPad to a digital piano/keyboard, you will need Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit. I connected mine with my old MIDI In and MIDI Out cable with a USB plug on one end. If you are new to this, I do not advise you to buy these cables without someone to help you.  Also, there are different iPad camera connection kits, and you need to know which one your iPad uses before you buy.

There are more features in this app, such as the ability to set loops, adjust balance, parts, and a keyboard view with light up keys. I’ve probably left something off!

Piano Adventures Player is a wonderful addition to piano pedagogy. I hope that more methods will consider this approach to accompaniments, now that CD’s are becoming obsolete.

For more information about this app, go to http://pianoadventures.com/player/

If you’re in San Antonio this weekend, June 27, 2015, come to Elizabeth Gutierrez’ Piano Camp for Piano Teachers. Elizabeth has some great sessions planned, and I am presenting a session that will walk you through how to use this app and a lot of other good ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under iPad Ideas, Music Reviews, Teaching Aids

One Minute Club 2015

One Minute Club Pack2015

One Minute Club 2015

It’s time to post the 2015 One Minute Club Cards! This year’s set also includes two certificates, including one for the Junior One Minute Club. the junior cards are yellow.  There is also a handy chart where you can keep a record of their scores. Just remember to keep it lighthearted and fun!

Below is a video I made several years ago showing students of all ages giving it a try!

One Minute Club from Susan Paradis on Vimeo.

These cards are formatted for 2 x 3.5  perforated blank business cards. The borders in the cards extend past the cutting lines to aid in printer alignment problems. Make sure your PDF printer window is set to “actual size,” and you are using the latest version of Adobe Reader.

In case you don’t have any blank business cards,  I added short cutting lines for you to connect and then cut using regular card stock.

After students earn the cards,  I put them in clear plastic ID holders and attach them to their  book bag with a small chain. The next year all I have to do is insert the new card.

The last several years, I’ve increased the way I use this card with students who can identify note names, but are slow playing them.

  1. I use mini flash cards printed in different colors for the treble and bass clef.
  2.  First, I show the student the card and I identify it for the student, saying Bass C, Middle C, etc. and the student plays the key.
  3. Then the student has to identify the card the same way but this time he doesn’t play.
  4. Then we do just the space notes the regular way. When those are mastered we go on to line notes.
  5. I review steps 1 to 3 at every lesson.
  6. I have individual goals for each student who will be given the Junior Club Cards. But I want every child to be able to do at least the cards around middle C.

If you’re reading this and have no idea what the One Minute Club is, well, I’ve written about it extensively. For more information, use the search tab on the right, and type in One Minute Club or follow this link for last year’s post.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Certificates, Intermediate Students, Note Identification, Teaching Aids

Make Your Own Big Magnetic Staff Board

Magnetic-Staff-Board

Magnetic Board Symbols-1

I’ve always wanted one of those big magnetic white boards  with a  music staff. They are expensive, however, so for years I’ve been planning on making my own. Recently my daughter moved and gave me an almost brand new 3’x 2′ magnetic board!

I’ve been using the magnetic board at every lesson to teach how to place sharps and flats on the staff  in order to construct key signatures.  All of my students have said it is so much easier to learn them this way. It’s also a great way to show beginners stem direction, and even learn note names. It is a lot faster and more fun than using a worksheet, too. This has been so helpful in my studio that I can’t imagine why I waited so long to actually make it!

I thought about using a marker to draw the staff lines on my board, but I was afraid I would mess it up.  Instead I decided to use 1/4″ art tape, also called drafting tape or artist tape. [Disclosure: This link to my Amazon store is just to show you art tape, and the current price is less than what I paid for mine at a craft store. Please buy it where you find the best price.] I think wider tape looks too big for the size of my notes. I wanted my lines to be about the size of a line I would draw on the board, if I had steady hands!

Magnetic white boards are a lot more expensive than the non-magnetic variety. The most expensive places are office supply stores. Sometimes Amazon has great buys, but be sure to buy the magnetic variety if you mail order one. If it doesn’t specifically say it is magnetic, it is not. Here are some suggestions to get one at the best price:

  • Use a 40% coupon at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
  • Check out Sam’s or Cosco.
  • Buy a giant size oil changing pan at Walmart and spray paint it white. This is the real do-it-yourself method, because the big pans are under $15.00. (Make sure it is magnetic.)

It is very important to me that the symbols are “see through” just like notes on a page. So BEFORE I laminated anything, I cut out the inside white part of each symbol. Just remember, cut it out before you laminate!

 Material

  • Ready made magnetic white board about 3′ x 2″
  • Or a large metal oil pan and white spray paint, if you make your own board
  • 1/4″ black art tape
  • Heavy Paper or card stock
  • Scissors
  • Small scissors and/or craft knife
  • Template for lines
  • Thermal laminator and lamination pouches (film)
  • Magnetic tape
  • Tiny bit of glue
  • Sharpie for touch ups
  • Ruler

Instructions

Print the symbol pages with black ink and cut out each symbol. Cut out the inside of each symbol with small scissors so that there is no white showing. I cut a slit with a craft knife before I cut the inside but that is optional. Use a black sharpie along the edges if needed to cover up little bits of white.

Use your whole note as a measure to determine the size of your staff.  My staff lines are 1 1/2″ from the top of the tape line to the top of the next tape line, but you should measure your printed notes and make the lines to fit.  With a ruler make a template to show the placement of the tape.

Line up the template where you want to put the lines for the staff.  Cut tape the length of your white board and place 5 lines horizontally on the board.  In this photo, you can see I discovered the staff is too close to the edge for high ledger lines notes, so I plan to move it down. Originally I was going to make a grand staff. Staff_Whiteboard

Place the cut symbols and notes into lamination pouches. Leave enough room around each symbol so that they can be cut in rectangles and squares for ease in handling.

Staff_Whiteboard2

The Bass Clef

The dots on the bass clef should be cut out separately. Place the cut out bass clef (without the dots) inside the laminating pouch and lay it over your template. Open the pouch. Put a little bit of glue on a toothpick to glue the dots in the correct place on the laminating pouch.  The dots will need to be centered on each side of the bass F line. The glue will hold the dots in place. Then close the laminating pouch and run it through the laminator. This worked great for me and was not as hard as it sounds. Now the dots are “floating” beside the clef. My students keep asking me how I did it!

BassClef

Cut small pieces of magnetic tape and place it on the back of each symbol. Well, it wouldn’t be a Magnetic Board without magnets! :) Trim the tape as needed to fit the symbol. Every symbol needs at least 2 pieces of magnetic tape and the bigger symbols need more.

The free printable contains:

  • 1 Treble Clef
  • 1 Bass Clef
  • 8 Whole Notes
  • 7 Flats
  • 7 Sharps
  • 2 Naturals 
  • 2 Double Sharps

To conclude, it was not hard to make my magnetic staff board and symbols. In fact it was a lot easier than writing this post which took me about a week! I find it hard to write directions, so please leave a comment if you have a question about the instructions or even a suggestion! If you have made a magnetic board with an oil pan, give us some tips! I’m not sure how many do-it-yourselfers are out there, so let me know if you would like me to post some more big symbols such as time signatures, bar lines, and rhythm notes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Teaching Aids, Theory, Uncategorized