Program Development

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As a piano teacher, I have found that one of the most effective motivational tools in encouraging my students to practice is by providing them with performnce opportunities throughout the year so that they have something that they are always working toward. In the next few weeks, I’ll be assigning pieces for our end-of-the-year recital, and I find myself spending a great deal of time selecting pieces that will fit students abilities and interest. Here’s a few tips for teachers as you seek to find appropriate performance numbers for the students at your studio, and please feel free to list any ideas that work for your students in the comments section below.

When it comes to running my studio, I am always looking for the next big challenge. Just when I’ve taken my business to the next level, I’m ready to tackle something new and a little bit scary.

Taking a look back, here are some of the adventures I’ve experienced in the last two years: leaving a fantastic job to take my part-time studio full-time, completely remodeling my studio to better meet the needs of my family and my students, and hiring a subcontractor to expand my business.

Of course, there have been bumps in the road along the way, but overall, each adventure has made for a more successful studio…which is why I’m getting ready for the next one.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

In the November issue of Clavier’s Piano Explorer (a wonderful little magazine for piano students), there was an article on creating good practice habits. The challenge was for students to practice 100 days in a row. Students that completed the challenge get to have their names printed in a future issue of the magazine. To motivate my students to develop the habit of practicing every day, I adopted the 100-day challenge in my studio, offering prizes to those who complete the challenge. In addition, I decided to take the challenge as well!

Recently I completed the challenge along with a handful of students. Practicing every day became a habit that I made time for. Part of committing to the challenge meant that practice did indeed have to happen every day, no matter what – like brushing your teeth. For students that went on vacation and had no access to a piano, listening to a recording of their piece was an optional substitute for practice, but only if absolutely necessary.

I have been a rabid fan of yoga for almost 12 years now, and I give it a lot of credit for the improvements I have made as a musician since then. When I first began studying piano, I was a typical voice student… full of feeling, but a little challenged by the kind of focus that instrumental work requires. I desperately wanted to play piano. I had a dream of playing on stage while I belted out my own original songs. The problem? I couldn’t seem to focus long enough to remember how to play a few basic chords. Getting the right rhythm when switching from chord to chord was so hard… and don’t get me started on how challenging it was to coordinate BOTH of my hands at the same time! I worried I would never get it. Luckily, around the same time I took on the piano challenge, I was also beginning to learn about yoga and meditation. Here is what it did for me.