Category Archives: 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!

 

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The Berry Basket: The Story of a Rescued Piano Book

BerryBasket

One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can sit at my computer and ramble on about anything. Today, I’m going to tell you about a little out-of-print piano book I found on the internet.

I’m not sure what sent me to a site on Etsy that sold vintage ephemera, which is a fancy word for old printed collectables.  Somehow I found myself looking through a selection of used vintage piano books the shop was selling to cut up and use for crafts. How sad, I thought, that these old books, once lovingly handed to young children and toted back and forth to piano lessons with the hope that the children would fall in love with piano, are now reduced to being cut up for who knows what.

As I was looking and reminiscing, I came upon a 1953 piano book that looked so charming I had to take a close up look. It was named The Berry Basket, and it had the cutest vintage art on the cover. The seller had some pictures of the inside art (with no mention of the music), and I knew I had to get it.  The price was only $3.00 so I clicked the buy button. In a few days, there it was in the mail, saved from destruction and in the hands of someone who could appreciate it!

The book is written for beginners, and the first pieces are only 8 measures long, with sweet, vintage drawings on every page. Each little piece has simple, child-like lyrics.

I was happy to discover the music is in different 5-finger positions and keys. There are no C position pieces in the entire book!  The lyrics are very simple and childlike, back when young children were more innocent and didn’t know the questionable lyrics of today’s popular music.

Since this is a previously used book, there are markings from the teacher.

“Work out notes H.S. Don’t Guess.”  

“Count.”  

“Slow.” 

Some things never change in piano!

According to the preface, the music and words were written by the Sisters of the Holy Cross attending a music workshop in Salt Lake City, conducted by Bernice Frost, a well-known composer of piano teaching music last century.

I wonder what Bernice Frost said in her workshop that inspired the Sisters of the Holy Cross to compose this music? The preface says the book offers, “… development in the basic requirements of elementary musical training. Foremost among these are ear-training, singing, keyboard range and feel, essential points of technic, and pianistic style.”  Maybe Bernice Frost gave them ideas of all the many things that can be done at a piano lesson besides just playing the music. I like to think so.

Maybe the child who used this book is now a piano teacher in his or her golden years, with hundreds of former students who love piano music! I like to think that, too!

The Berry Basket Published by J. Fischer Bros

The Berry Basket
Published by J. Fischer Bros

 

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Grand Staff Binder Covers and Using Binders in Music Lessons

Covers for Student Music Binders

 Binder Covers

The front and back covers of binders are valuable real estate for learning. I noticed when I started incorporating theory information on the binder cover, they learned it easier because they see it all the time. Well, that is, if they practice they see it all the time! :)

It is well worth the few extra dollars to buy your students the kind of binder that works the best in your lessons. In my studio, the cost of the binder is deducted from their book and activity fee. However, some teachers include the price in either a registration fee or build it into the tuition fee.

I use one inch binders, and I buy the more expensive  “Clear Cover Heavy Duty” binders made by Avery. (I’m including a link to Amazon for those of you who can’t get to a store.) These are often a lot more expensive, but you can get them at the big box stores in the Back to School section for a few dollars this time of year. The thing I really like about this particular binder is the “one touch” open and close. It easily opens with one hand and I do not need to take the binder off the music rack to open it.

I print my assignment sheets on both sides, and I punch holes in both sides of the page. Then all I have to do is turn the page over to reuse it. All that page hole-punching is a lot easier since I bought an electric hole puncher  on Amazon. I’ve had it now for 3 or 4 years and it’s still going strong. It punches about 15 pages at a time. My advice is to keep it cleaned out and if your paper is thicker, such as card stock or 24 pound, put in less than recommended. My assignment page is a free download. The early childhood one is here.

The binder covers you see today match the design I posted two weeks ago. I have some students who are too young for key signature charts, so I use the grand staff binder cover instead.

Included in today’s PDF printable are:

  • A front cover with the notes of the grand staff labeled for students who are too young for a key signature chart.
  • A black and white version of the same staff.
  • The grand staff in landscape view with the notes labeled.
  • The grand staff in landscape without the note names so students can write them in.
  • The grand staff in landscape in black and white.

The version of the landscape grand staff  is similar to the one I posted last year, but it uses less ink. I laminated it and made a poster out of it but it also makes a nice binder cover. The unlabeled one is great to put inside a clear sheet protector to practice writing note names with a dry or wet erase marker. It also works on an iPad. If you don’t know how to print one page from a multi-page PDF, please see my FAQ.

When I decided to switch over to using binders, I was a little worried it would be too cumbersome and a lot of trouble. Now I have it down to a science and it works great. Teachers have a place to add Picture Scales, (legal) music downloads, and theory sheets. The pocket on the front makes a great place to store sheet music. Many teachers add a small yearly charge for the cost of ink and paper.

[Disclosure: If you buy something from my link to Amazon, I make a few cents to support the expenses of maintaining this website, so thank you for your support.  However, I encourage you to check out prices to find the best buys in your area. I absolutely do not link to something unless I have it myself and I think it is a good price.]

 

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2014-2015 Calendar, Key Signature Chart, and Reminder Cards


2014-2015 Calendar Set

Calendar 2014-2015

It’s time to start planning for fall semester lessons. An organized studio is a happy studio where parents and students know well in advance what is coming up!

There are 3 pages in this document, a calendar, a matching key signature chart and a set of reminder snail-mail postcards.

This 2014-2015 calendar is designed for you to type your studio events in the center. I suggest you put dates for:

  • Festivals, including sign-up deadlines
  • Recitals
  • Holiday breaks
  • Days your studio will be closed
  • Group lesson dates
  • Deadlines to memorize music for events

After you print the calendar, measure where you would like to set your margins in a word processing program like Word or Pages. Here are the margins I used:

  • Left – 2.50
  • Right – 1. 25
  • Top – 1. 25
  • Bottom – .75

Calendar Binder Cover

However, the margins are going to depend on your printer and the font size you choose. I suggest using only one font with a size of around 11. The above photo uses 11 point Arial.

In the first line, I put my studio email address. In the second line, I added my phone number where parents can text me if they are running late. Skip several lines and start your studio schedule on the left margin. When you finish, go back and center the headings. I also increased the font size and changed the color.

After printing the calendars, place them in the see-through cover of the student’s binder. On the back of the binder, you can insert the key signature chart. I always feel like the more they see it, the more familiar it becomes.

Once you get used to using binders with your students, you will never want to use any other kind of assignment book. You can use dividers for music, scales, theory, downloads from the web, etc. Feel free to use my assignment pages, found here, Assignment Page, and the one for young students here, Assignment Page for Young Students.

Now when your forgetful students ask, “When does my sonatina have to be memorized?” or “What day is the theory test?” tell them to look on their binder. They usually say rather sheepishly, “Oh, yeah.”

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