Program Development

blogOwning your own studio can be a bit lonely.  Especially if your studio is small, and you don’t have other employees and aides with whom you interact regularly.  But being a studio owner doesn’t need to be isolating.  There are many professional organizations out there that can provide opportunities for comraderie and collaboration and the reasons to join them are many.


When I first knew our family would be moving, I contacted the president of the local music teachers organization from the area where we were relocating.  When I got to town, I had coffee with her and discussed ways to get started with students.  She was incredibly helpful in helping me understand the market in my new town, and since her studio was full, she referred three students my way.  Through word of mouth, these three students grew to twelve students in a few short months.  Another teacher in our organization gave my name out to a local school, where I also picked up several students.  I have done my best to pay it forward; now that I have a waiting list, I have sent students to new teachers in our group and I know that they, too, have been grateful for the referrals.  It is my experience that teachers in these groups want to support one another and help each other grow their studios whenever possible.

The Music Lesson
How do you teach music? When do you start teaching musicality? What is musicality? What is music? In his book, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, Victor Wooten, five-time Grammy Award winner bass guitarist, gives many avenues for discovery into these questions. I found it to be a very provocative book and plan to read it again. Those who have read Richard Bach’s Illusions will find this story very similar. Additionally, there is an audio book available that is excellent and was named as a 2011 Audie finalist.

In Measure One (chapter one), Victor, a struggling bass guitarist finds himself low on income with no upcoming performance engagements and decides that he better “practice.” Practicing scales, chords, and arpeggios, he quickly loses interest and gets sleepy. Suddenly, the teacher appears, dressed in a NASA-style blue jumpsuit with a motorcycle helmet on his head, carrying a skateboard in one hand and a burlap sack on his back. His name is Michael and he states that he is a teacher. When asked of what, he replies, “a teacher of nothing.” The discussion winds its way around to music, and Michael asks the student, “What is music?” After more dialogue, Michael finally says, “Music comes from the word mu which is the ancient word for mother; sic is an abbreviation of science. Therefore, music is the mother of all sciences.” “Music is important.”

DSC06240 copyMany years ago I instituted a policy in my studio about playing in outside ensembles. The policy states that beginning in 6th grade, every student must commit to a weekly ensemble experience outside of lessons and group classes (my core program includes a weekly private lesson and bi-weekly flute group classes). School band or orchestra, local area chamber music, youth symphony or wind ensemble, even a group of kids forming a rock band that agrees to meet regularly, all ensemble opportunities “count”.

Carnegie hall Attention: Music Teachers! Do you know how your students can get to Carnegie Hall? Of course they have to “practice, practice, practice,” but you can increase their chances by recommending that they participate in The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program (TAP for short).

WHAT is it?

TAP provides a recognized national standard of musical success through an effectively sequenced course of study from beginner to advanced levels. First of all, a bit of recent history: last year The Royal Conservatory Program partnered with Carnegie Hall to create TAP. Prior to TAP, the program here in the United States was formerly called The National Music Certificate Program (NMCP) and before that, The Royal American Conservatory Examinations (RACE). Though it is fairly new here, the Royal Conservatory was founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Interestingly, its founder, Edward Fisher, was a young organist born in the U.S. The Conservatory offically opened in September of 1887 and is now celebrating its 125th year. The mission of The Royal Conservatory is “to develop human potential through music and the arts.” Notable alumni include Glenn Gould who graduated from the Conservatory with highest honors at age 12.

TAP encompasses four main areas: repertoire, technique, musicianship, and musical literacy. The program covers all instruments, voice, and the academic areas of theory, music history, and pedagogy. The Piano Syllabus consists of ten Grades with a theory assessment requirement beginning at Grade 5. Included also are elementary and intermediate piano pedagogy, as well as diplomas in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy.

p44732cA month ago I added an iPad to the collection of devices in my house. It’s a fun toy and I have enjoyed adding apps, books, and games. But the real reason I am excited about my iPad is the almost endless ways I have begun to use it in my teaching studio.

For the past year I have been teaching with my computer in the studio. I use it to take care of the business of music teaching with Music Teachers Helper, to look up youtube videos with my students, and to listen to and play with the CD recordings I have downloaded into iTunes. Slowly I am becoming more comfortable with the blending of technology and more traditional music lessons. But having to turn to the computer and manipulate the keyboard often feels like an interruption to the flow of the lesson.

My excitement about the iPad stems from the fluid way that I have been using it during lessons. The iPad is small and can easily rest on my solid, black music stand. It requires touching rather than a keyboard. And, most of all, the kids LOVE it. It’s pretty and it’s fun. The apps feel like games even when they are covering challenging concepts.

What are my favorite apps so far?