Get Organized with Free To Do List

Getting organized and accomplishing your daily To-Do list is something that most music teachers seem too often struggle with on a regular basis. I have found that a daily to do list is the best way to make sure the most important tasks get done each day. I take a piece of blank computer paper, fold it in four and use only 1/4 of the page for the daily To-Do list. Keeping the list only on one small page lets me choose the most important tasks to get done for the day. I use one section for my personal/household T-Do list and another 1/4 page for my teaching/studio to do list. Today I found this free widget program that has a To-Do list. You can install it on iGoogle or as a toolbar and make a daily to-do list. The program will not sync with Outlook, but it is just perfect for that daily short To-Do list that you need to get done. It can printed or even emailed. The company is Lab Pixies, so check it out you will like it. Also please leave a comment and let me know what your tricks are to get organized and accomplish your daily To-Do list.

The Excitement of First Lessons

Over the last few weeks, I have been training a new teacher on “how to teach a small group class” for one hour every day. This class comprises of three little girls who are all six years old and are very good friends. Since, the girls know each other; the class could be enjoyable to teach. However, keeping the girls on track and paying attention might be a challenge. Training new teachers & new students can be a lot of fun for everyone if you keep the right attitude. Here are a few tips that I have found to make that very first lesson a roaring and delightful success.

  1. Organize your schedule and keep all your teaching materials handy.
  2. .Set your ground rules with the students so they know what to expect and how to behave during the lesson.
  3. Plan ahead as to what you want the students to learn
  4. Always send the student home from the first lesson with a song and a completed worksheet if possible.
  5. Always keep and extra activity or song available in case you need to quickly change activities with the student or give them additional work. Sending students home from their first lesson with a song and a worksheet that they have completed with you in class is what I call “products”. They are tangible results that go home with the student and helps create excitement for both the student and parents about music lessons! For piano students, I trace their hands and label the piano fingers on the right hand and left hand. Then, I draw the treble and bass clefs. I also teach a simple black key song so the student has at least one song to be played for friends and family all week long. On the piano, I generally teach Hot Cross Buns or Twinkle, Twinkle as a first lesson. On string instruments, I often teach Hot Cross Buns or the Jaws movie them, the shark attack notes.

These are the few tips which I think are helpful for that first lesson. However, I would love to receive your tips and ideas about the first few lessons for a new student. Please leave a comment!

Become a “Expert Teacher?”

Today I interviewed a potential teacher for my music school. The woman’s interview was really refreshing, because she was honest about her playing skills and teaching abilities. She flat out said that she wasn’t a phenomenal performer (a solid late intermediate pianist) but she was a great teacher for beginning students! If you think about it the desire to be a good teacher is more important than your virtuous abilities to perform. Now don’t get me wrong, you do have to be able to play your instrument well to be a private music teacher, but most importantly you have to be willing to become an “expert” in your area of teaching. To become an “expert “teaching private music lessons you have to be willing to learn yourself. You have to learn about teaching, learn about music that is available to teach, and most of all learn from your own students. If you pay close attention to the students you are teaching you will see each child or adult has their own learning style so how you teach one child to count a complicated rhythm is not the same way you teach another child. When I first started teaching I had a music degree and had spent years learning my instrument, but I still didn’t feel like an “expert” so I made myself a competent private piano teacher, by teaching students and learning as I taught beginners and by doing the following: • Joined the local MTA (music teachers association) to meet other teachers • Attended piano lectures and master classes • Read books about teaching and performing music • Volunteered and observed other private music teachers • Became Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) This is a few of the steps I took to go from a college kid that could play piano to an “expert” piano teacher. My personal goal is to always improve myself and my teaching ability. This is where I ask my audience for feedback. So what’s your plan for becoming a better music teacher in 2009 I would love to hear your comments and feedback. I would also like to hear if other people have done some of the things I have done and have they worked for you?