Archive for September, 2009

Invest In Yourself So You Will Have More To Give To Your Students

Monday, September 21st, 2009

by Amy Gould

Republished with permission from Music Teachers Helper

Being a teacher requires you to give a lot of your energy to your students. If you don’t spend time taking care of yourself and replenishing your own energy levels, you may get burned out. Summer is a great time to focus on yourself. Here are a few ideas that I’ve come up with to help you replenish your own energy. If you add a couple of these to your weekly schedule, they will pay off big time.

Start or make over a work out

Any way you can take time for yourself is a good thing, but working out is good for a lot of reasons. It raises your endorphins, which are the feel good hormones. It helps reduce stress. Plus you will increase your lung capacity and stamina. Even getting out and going for a bike ride or a walk will improve your outlook.


Meditation helps you to relax it has been shown to increase immunity. The best part is that if you have a regular practice, the effects last longer. I’ve noticed that when I regularly do yoga and meditation, I experience less performance anxiety, less stress in rush hour traffic, more patience in lessons or stressful situations and more.


Yoga has many benefits. Some of them are the same as meditation. Since yoga requires diaphragmatic breathing, it is great for breath support. It also helps to improve range of motion and flexibility. It has helped me to get rid of tension in many places. Deep breathing for an 20 minutes to an hour helps to reduce stress as well. Yoga is a moving practice, so it is great if you aren’t good at sitting still for meditation.


Massage is great for reducing stress and getting rid of pain or stiffness. Some forms are even good for improving flexibility. I know that I feel like a million bucks after getting a massage (even if I was in complete melt down mode when I went to the massage.)

Mini Vacation

Take a day off. No cleaning, studio work or anything allowed. Sleep in, go somewhere fun or just stay home and watch all the movies that you have been dying to see. Sometimes a real vacation can cause more stress then it alleviates. A day or two off at home can make you feel like a million bucks. If staying home is too stressful (with all of its visual reminders of things that need to be done, phone calls and chores), stay for a day or two at a hotel nearby. While you are there book a couple of hours at a spa.

Inspiriational CD, book or seminar

Listening to inspirational books on CD, reading a book, or going to a seminar on motivation are all great ways to improve your outlook. Here are a few to get you started.

Zig Ziglar – Better Than Good, Creating the Life you Can’t Wait to Live.

Anthony Robbins – Awakening the Giant Within.

Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way

Eloise Ristad – A Soprano on Her Head

Read for fun

Take a look at the list of recommended books from your library. Pick something fun that you might read if you were a kid. (no self help books, educational reading or anything else applies.) Spend as much time as you can getting lost in the book (no guilt allowed either.)

Try to pick one or two of these to add into your week. If you add them in weekly or daily, it will help you to avoid burn out and have more energy to give to the others in your life.

Finding Ways to Communicate: Fitting Your Audience’s Style

Friday, September 18th, 2009

by Rachel Velarde
Republished with permission Music Teachers Helper

I have a voice student who only communicates effectively through her MySpace account. Emails and phone calls don’t work when trying to reach her.

One student communicates solely through text messages. Her mother I can ONLY contact through land-line (no email, text, cell phone messages – although she has that capability).

When I was in college (early 1990’s!), I would try to call home and the line would be busy – my mother was on the internet! So, I’d send her an email and 5 minutes later, I’d get a phone call. When I graduated for college, one of the running jokes was that we were going to grad school so that we could continue to have an email account (hotmail was JUST in its infancy, Windows 3.0 had just come out and Gmail wasn’t even a thought in Google’s nonexistent eye).


Nowadays we have SO many options to reach one another that frequently we are communicating TO other people rather than WITH others. Blogs (like this one, for instance) often tend to talk a lot without having conversations. I am trying to raise my “presence” as a blogger so as to increase my conversations, but don’t want to monetize the blog. I just want to communicate with more people! So, it’s a slow process.

Communication, though, is KEY! Social Media (TwitterFacebookMySpace,FriendFeedGoogleDelicious) allows you to share and network information throughout your “friend network.”

I use Twitter (via Seesmic Desktop – which integrates my Facebook updates) to find cool information. I’ve found some really amazing people out there who have worthwhile information. I started by following a few really interesting people I’d run across while doing web searches (it started with Chris Foley at The Collaborative Piano Blog). Then, I went through who THEY were following and followed them too. Chris Brogan is the social media guru I ran across through Chris Foley (I’ve subscribed to both of their email RSS feeds for almost 2 years now). Between the two of them, I’m covering a large portion of musicians and social media information. Through this method, I now have over 1000 followers on Twitter (which I’ve only seriously been using since March 2009) and am “following” over 1000. It’s not easy keeping up, so I don’t try to follow everyone.

With Seesmic Desktop, I can do a search for my favorite “tweeple.” I then keep those searches at the side and can pull them out at any time to view what they’ve been saying recently. I also go through my stream at least once daily. I then use an application called TweetLater to send out interesting links that I’ve found at spaced out intervals (I’ll sit down at Twitter for about 20 minutes, but send out links that post on my schedule – I choose about 1 per hr throughout the day). Seesmic then lets me know if/when someone responds to my tweet.(more…)

References – as requested

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

By Leah Coutts

I have been asked to supply the references I used for my presentation on motivation – here it is, along with where the books are available to purchase online (the pictures are links):


Clark, F. (1992). Questions and answers: Practical advice for piano teachers.Northfield,Illinois: Instrumentalist Co

Uszler, M, Gordon, S., & McBride Smith, S. (2000). The well-tempered keyboard teacher (2nd ed.). New York: Schirmer Books.

Darling, E. (Ed.). (2005). A piano teacher’s legacy: Selected writings by Richard Chronister. Kingston, New Jersey: The Francis Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

Coats, S. (2006). Thinking as you play: Teaching piano in individual and group lessons. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Guy, S. (2006). If it’s not new and exciting, it’s old and boring. Keyboard Companion, 17(4),30-31.

Hisey, A. (2002). What is “fun?” Keyboard Companion 13(2), 25-26.

Huitt, W. (2001). Motivation to learn: An overview. Retrieved from Educational PsychologyInteractive: Motivation Web site:

Kreader, B. (2000). What do you do with a student who hates to play the piano? Keyboard Companion, 11(1), 5-7.

Lyke, J., & Enoch, Y. (1987). Creative piano teaching. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes.

Tollefson, M. (2000). How do you motivate a student who is not practicing?Keyboard Companion 11(1), 26-28.

I recommend that all teachers have a library of resources on which to draw to further their insight into learning styles and teaching practices that can further their own teaching.