Category Archives: Uncategorized

Six Secrets of Successful Music Teachers

What makes a successful music teacher? I have observed and listened to many very successful teachers over the years. I am so fortunate to personally know many outstanding teachers, and I have learned from them. These are teachers of all ages who have studios full of students, including beginners and long-time advanced high school students. Here is what I discovered:

  • They have goals.
  • They are flexible, but not door-mats.
  • They don’t rigidly follow method books.
  • They don’t complain and they don’t make excuses.
  • They are willing to learn more and keep up to date.
  • They love their work and they do more than just teach.

Teaching music is hard. There are so many factors that we as teachers cannot control. Music is enjoyable,  yet it is hard to learn to read and it is hard to learn the coordination involved in playing an instrument. We teach because we love it and we want to share our love of music. It’s also how we make our living. This is a lot to balance and it is understandable that we get frustrated at times. However, we stay positive and carry on! I hope everyone reading this has a great teaching year!

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Don’t Swipe My Sharp! – An Easy Game To Learn Sharps and Flats

Don't Swipe My Sharp

Don’t Swipe My Sharp

The other day a student was working on accidentals while his sibling was waiting. “Why don’t you play the Don’t Swipe My Sharp game?” he asked. He told me that it was one of his favorite games and it really helps to learn sharps and flats. An older students thought this game up and if you don’t use the cutesy game pieces, it makes a good game for older students.

Even if you don’t have much time in your lesson for activities, I think this one is worth it. It is really lots of fun, with players swapping playing pieces back and forth, but learning while they play.

I  totally remade the playing cards with new graphics that fit a business card template, and I added a lot more “Swipe” cards, which has made the game so much more fun.  Get the PDF here. There is also a page of instructions, so don’t use your business card stock on that. I included the instruction page so you can store it with your cards in case you forget how to play. If you have already downloaded this game, I hope it has helped your students!

It is hard to explain this game, even though it is easy, so I made this visual guide. If you don’t understand it, let me know.

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Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp2

Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp3

 

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Filed under Intermediate Students, Uncategorized

Make Your Own Big Magnetic Staff Board

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Teaching Aids, Theory, Uncategorized

Practice Plus App Review and Giveaway

 

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It’s been a while since I have heard from the folks at Dynamic App Design, who made Metronome Plus, my favorite iPhone and iPad metronome app. Well,  they sent me this great new app that has just been released and now I have a new favorite. I found it easy to use, with music teachers and students in mind.

Let’s face it, I don’t have a lot of time at a lesson to fiddle around with an app, trying to remember how it works. Maybe if I were a 5th grader it would be easier.

Practice+ is a music practice app for musicians, teachers, and students.  All the fine features of Metronome Plus are here, but much more has been added.

Here is the exciting part that is such a helpful practice tool. Let’s say I have a tricky spot I want to speed up gradually. Usually I have to set my metronome, play it, go back to the metronome, reset it, and play again.

Now, I can set the metronome to the number of measures I want to practice and to increase the tempo after each play-through.

I tried this out with a section of music I am working on.  First, I set the starting metronome tempo to 80. Then in the top left box, I set the measure numbers to 2. In the middle box, I set the number of clicks I wanted the metronome to increase after each play-through loop.  The first time it was 80, the second it was 81, etc. I could have set it to increase more after each loop.

The box on the right shows how many times you have played the loop and what tempo range you used. The metronome speed is easily changed using the big plus and minus signs on each side of the metronome.

The loop practice feature really raises a metronome app to an entire new level!

Another extra is the recording feature. A teacher can record a tricky passage and email it to the student.

It also has a tuner, which will come in handy for piano students who play a band or orchestral instrument.

This app is $3.99 in the app store. Trust me, (having observed someone develop an app), it takes months to write the code for an app, and I think the price is very reasonable.

To learn about more features in the app, go to http://dynamicappdesign.com/practiceplus/
The iTunes link is here.

Today, I am happy to be able to give away this great new app to 3 lucky winners! [The contest is over!]

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below by Saturday, August 23, at midnight CST. The winners will receive a code to redeem the app from the Apple iTune store. I will email the code to the winners after the deadline. Be sure you are using a valid email address when you comment.

This app requires iOS 7.0 or later. It is compatible only with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. If you’re not sure what iOS version you are using, go into Settings>General>About>Version.

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