It is June 1st, but here in my corner of piano teacher land it feels a whole lot like January 1st. With the crazy race to the end of the semester finally complete, I sit here in that same post-holiday daze most people find themselves in come New Year’s morning. And it wouldn’t be New Year’s for me without lists! I don’t exactly bother writing resolutions in the usual sense, but I love looking back on the year and trying to think of all the highlights, changes, accomplishments…really, it is like retroactive resolution writing! I just look at all the good things that happened and pretend that I resolved to do them the previous year. Very gratifying, I tell you!
June 1st seems like a good day to apply this very activity to my teaching life, particularly because this past school year was one of many changes for my studio. Once I start musing it is tough to stop, so I warn you that this may turn into the first of several posts. Today we will stick to the concrete and tangible: (I’ll save my philosophizing for another day!)
Semester system billing
The biggest change I made last year was to switch to a semester/tuition system for my private teaching. I plotted out the entire school year calendar based on 36 lessons between September and May and had families pay a set monthly rate. Best decision ever.
Technique Practice Charts
I spent some time last summer planning out a more systematic way of introducing new technical elements for each of the National Music Certificate Program levels. I then created packets of weekly practice charts with checkboxes (oh the gratification of checking a box– no child can resist it!) to help kids track their technique practice. These charts still need some tweaking (summer project) but I’ll post them here sometime soon in case other folks find them to be helpful!
Lesson Notes in Excel
In the past, I have tried various systems of notebooks and such to keep lesson notes. This year I started doing my notes in Excel and though this is another work in progress area, I did a much better job of keeping track of student progress. Plus I could actually remember what happened at the previous week’s lesson!
Music lists on Sheetmusicplus.com
I wrote about this recently here. Ordering new materials became much easier with this system.
Ultimate Music Theory
I have been less than satisfied for a while now with the theory books out there and was thrilled to discover Ultimate Music Theory. As my students have started taking the NMCP Rudiments theory exams these books have been a huge help!
TonicTutor.com is a charming music games website by Christine Donkin. This was my first year using the site and I found it to be a great means of getting my kids to practice ear-training and theory concepts on their own. It has been very neat to watch the site develop and I appreciate how quick the creators are to respond to input from teachers. Some of my kids really took to it and did their games consistently all year. Others were a bit more haphazard, and frankly I did not get into consistent routine with checking in myself. (New Year’s resolution maybe?)
Another really big change this year was my discovery of the internet. I mean, sure, I was already online all the time reading cooking and knitting blogs…But somehow it just never occurred to me until recently to investigate whether music teachers were out there in the ether too. I may save some of my poetic thoughts on this subject for my next “philosophical” New Year’s post, but really, I am just brimming with excitement over the amazing community I have discovered. Starting this site has been a fun adventure and I look forward to where it will take me in this New Year!