Digital Toolbox: Music Streaming

Music is an auditory art form. It is too easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of playing and so visually engrossed in the score that we neglect to focus primarily on the sound being produced. Pianists will fall into this trap from time to time especially when tackling difficult works. As music is an auditory art form so much can be learned by simply listening to music. This includes listening to the music we play as well as listening widely to recorded works of others. When listening to recordings we are able to evaluate and imitate what we are hearing and apply it to our own musical practice.

 “By prescribing listening to students we show that it is as equally valuable as the rest of their practice regime.”

While I frequently shift students focus back to sound in their own music making I wanted to place more emphasis on listening to recorded works outside the studio. Too often students report listening to performances of their works on YouTube. While when used appropriately YouTube can be a fantastic resource, by relying on these searchers students often end up listening to less-than-desirable interpretations of their works. For pianists-in-training distinguishing between the good, the bad and the ugly  isn’t something that always comes easily.

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Why use MoodleCloud in instrumental lessons?

MoodleCloud is a free version of Moodle  (an online learning platform). It is designed for educators and targeted “towards small users of Moodle: very small schools or companies, or lone teachers with a few classes..”(Read more here). In other words, MoodleCloud is a perfect fit for music studios, like Poco Piano Studio!

MoodleCloud is a highly customisable system. You can create courses structured around anything you want for your students. You can create assignments, quizzes, upload and link students on to great resources among other things. After much fiddling around I discovered the best way to use MoodleCloud for my studio, here is a quick peek!
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A Higgledy Piggledy Christmas!

Music by Elena Cobb. Illustrations by Nathalie Chabelnik Wood.

December 2015 marked the end of my first year running Poco Piano Studio. During the busy month I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of gifts I was recieving from students! I was extremely grateful and wondered what I could give my students in return, after all I’m not the only who deserves a gift for working hard all year! Learning piano requires a lot of hard work, dedication and a large time commitment from students which definitely earns them a reward as well (in addition to the satisfaction of being able to play piano of course!).

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Why I Love Garageband

Why I Love Garageband

Recently a student begun sharing her own songs during our lessons. We’ve been having lessons together for around two years and she is currently working on her preliminary grade (AMEB) repertoire. It’s absolutely astounding what new students can accomplish with a basic knowledge of chords and scales… but that’s a topic for another time! After hearing a few of her songs I suggested we record some and the student was very onboard with the idea. I decided to use GarageBand to do this because it’s extremely user friendly and the student had access to it outside of the studio. At the end of each lesson we work on recording her song, little by little until it’s finished. We are now nearing the end of the process and the student still looks forward to recording her song each week! The experience has been rewarding and enhanced the students learning in a variety of different ways. In this post I intend to discuss five benefits from the process that stood out the most to show why I love Garageband and will continue integrating it into the studio.

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20 Piece Challenge

Word Cloud

With term 4 coming to a close it’s time for Poco Piano Studio to launch our first ever 20 piece challenge. The challenge was inspired by the ’40 Piece Challenge’ run by The Art of Piano Pedagogy, a Facebook group consisting of over 10,000 piano teachers around the globe. Intrigued to learn more  I read  a blog post by Elissa Milne, ‘Where did the 40 Piece Challenge Begin?’. The aim of the challenge is to enrich our music studies by learning a greater quantity of work, but how does that work?

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Composing & Creating From Day One

I was browsing lesson ideas on Pinterest when I stumbled across ‘Paint Chip Improv‘ from Teach Piano Today. For a while I have been thinking of ways to get students playing and creating music from their first lesson before being introduced notation. I want the first lesson to be fun, engaging and motivate the student to want to learn more. When I read about this game I thought I’d hit the jackpot! I now use it during my first lesson with new students and it ticks every box.

Paint Chip Improv

Paint Chip Improv

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Piano Posture & Parent Participation

The weekly lesson only takes up a small amount of time that students spend at the piano, majority of the time they’re on their own practicing. This is where bad posture and practice habits form. I spend time in lessons showing students both how to practice at home and correcting their posture and usually by the next week the same posture problems are reappearing. Our minds are always so busy while we practice it can be very difficult to focus on our posture at the same time. Sometimes what is really need is a tap on the shoulder show us we’re doing something wrong, unfortunately I am only able to do this in our lessons and at home the student is largely on their own.

Lately I’ve been thinking of ways to get parents more involved in the music education of their children. Fortunately you don’t need any musical knowledge to understand what constitutes correct posture at the piano. I stumbled across this great posture infograph at Hoffman Academy that I now give to the parents of all of my piano students.It fits perfectly on a double sided A4 page and is really easy walk through at the end of the lesson!


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Student Details Forms

 Student Details Form (.doc) | Student Details Form (.docx)

Can’t believe it’s August already! Poco Piano Studio is in our eighth month of operation, currently operating with two students I’m very proud of how far we’ve come together. There is no greater buzz than seeing your students progress and develop a lifelong appreciation for music! I am now putting my focus on growing our little studio. The bigger our music community the more group activities and competitions I can run for the students!

I wanted to share with other teachers my student details forms.Not only are they a must for administrative records of your studio but they are great to keep handy for phone inquiries, booking new students in lessons and getting to know new students. The music history section gives you guidance of how to plan for your first lesson together. I like to get an overview of how the student uses their music skills outside of the lesson. If they’re not apart of any ensembles I encourage them to join some, joining a choir is a great place to start for beginning students who aren’t comfortable playing piano with others yet. Choir provides the joy of group music making without the pressure of playing an unfamiliar instrument.

Student details form

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Practice Books… hot off the presses!

Finally invested in a new printer which means…. Practice books!

Practice Diary

Preview: Cover of Practice Book 1.1

This is my practice book template and I’m very excited to try it for this weeks lessons. I’m sure I’ll make improvements and adjustments as I go, let me know how it works out for you! I

Practice Book 1.0 1.1 (revised!)

Practice Diary (.docx) | Practice Diary (.doc)

All you need is a double sided printer. 🙂

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Inspiration or decoration?

The Elephant  Royal March of the Lion  Africa

When I first hung these frames above my piano I intended them to be some fun decoration. I chose to include two pieces from the Saint-Saens suite ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ because it was something most students would be familiar with or have played a piece from at some point. (I particularly like the value of teaching ‘The Elephant’ for students with a shaky left hand because there is definately no hiding!). The third frame features ‘Africa’ by Saint-Saens.

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