Category Archives: Teaching Business

So You Want to Play the Piano? by Melanie Spanswick

12696152_10154560093444517_1136126917_n

Melanie Spanswick is an English concert pianist, presenter, adjudicator, author, composer, and music educator. That is the short list! She has also written many articles for music publications and has given presentations and lectures on learning how to play piano.

To this list of outstanding achievements, she has written a book , So You Want To Play the Piano?.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in piano lessons for themselves or a family member. It is extremely comprehensive and includes everything you could possibly want to know about piano lessons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this, and anyone considering piano lessons should use this book as a resource.

An important chapter is how to find the appropriate piano teacher. She explains the confusing diplomas and degrees that teachers may obtain, as well as the conservatory system, such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and others.

The next chapter discusses popular method books and basic music theory. Melanie uses both the UK and North American music vocabularies. She reviews method books in detail and also discusses other music education methods such as Kodály, Orff, and Suzuki.

The book continues with detailed chapters on piano basics, technique, exams, festivals, and competitions. There is an entire chapter on technique with good photographs to explain the concepts.

One of the best things about this book is the extensive lists Melanie includes. There are lists of resources for everything she writes about including websites, methods, conservatories, examining boards in 8 countries, composers, publications, and more. It is a treasure trove of resources!

So You Want to Play Piano? is aimed for potential students, but it is a great reference book for beginning teachers who are starting a studio.  As an experienced teacher,  I found it contains helpful information including what to discuss at student interviews.

This book is currently published by Alfred UK and will soon be published in the U.S. by Alfred Publishing. You can read more about Melanie at www.melaniespanswick.com

Leave a Comment

Filed under Pedagogy Book Reviews, Teaching Business

B&W Assignment Sheets

Editable Assign Pages in Black and White

Editable B&W Assignment Page

B&W Assignment Page (ready-made)

One of the most popular downloads on my site over the years has been the black and white assignment page on my old website. Today I am posting an updated version, the one with the major and minor circle of 5th on each side of the page. This is just like the one I posted last week except there is no color, for those of you without color printers.

I made it in two versions. One is ready-made; just print and use. The other has text fields for you to label your own categories. When a PDF is “editable” this means that you can fill in specific blanks in the PDF with your own wording. You will not be able to change fonts and sizes. Lines, graphics, and words that are in the original cannot be changed. I hope the following graphic tutorial will help you personalize this PDF. Now, if you see a cute PDF form or worksheet that is “editable” you will know how to do it!

How To Use Editable PDF

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Teaching Aids, Teaching Business

Assignment Page Template-Editable

Editable Assignment PageEditable Assignment Page (type in your own wording)

Assignment Page (you cannot edit this one)

I made a new assignment sheet to match my color theme for this year. If you’ve been following for the last few weeks, you will notice this coordinates with the calendar and binder cover. If you’ve ever used my assignment sheets before, this one is similar, but I made some changes I think I’m going to like better. One thing I really wanted to change was the staff. In the old version there wasn’t enough space to write ledger line notes.

I print on the front and back of each page. I punch holes in BOTH sides of the page. That way, all I have to do is turn the page over and put it back into the binder. This saves a lot of paper and saves space inside the binder.

I’ve had so many teachers tell me they love the ability to edit PDF’s, so I decided to make one assignment page editable just for my readers. :) If you have never edited a PDF document before, I written some instructions. Email me if you can’t figure it out.

Directions on how to edit a PDF

  • Open the PDF in the latest version of Adobe Reader. (This is the same free program you should use to print all of my material.)
  • There are about 12 text fields. You do not have to use them all.
  • Some of the text fields are centered and some start on the left side.
  • Select “Highlight Existing Fields.” This will show you where to type.
  • You should see a large blinking cursor.
  • Type any text you desire, but it has to fit in the field.
  • After you have edited the assignment page, save it with a different file name so you can use it again.

Printing on Both Sides

I have a duplex printer, which means it will print on both sides of the paper. In order to do that with a PDF, you need a two page PDF document. Then select the duplex (two-sided) option on your printer. If you don’t have that option, print on one side and use a test sheet to figure out how to print on the other side without getting it upside down.

I use an inexpensive electric hole punch that I bought from Amazon. It’s lightweight plastic and I was worried it wouldn’t last, but I’ve had it for several years now with no problems.  If you use the link to buy it, a small percent goes to me to help defray the website hosting fees. Thank you to those who help support this site because without your help it would not be possible!

7 Comments

Filed under Teaching Aids, Teaching Business

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!

 

14 Comments

Filed under Teaching Aids, Teaching Business