Why Bi-weekly Lessons Don’t Work

 

7 reasons why bi-weekly lessons do not work…

 

Now and then, our studio gets asked if we offer bi-weekly lessons. I mean, doesn’t it make sense that if you take lessons every other week, you have half the number of trips into the studio, you have double the amount of time to practice, and you can save some money, right?

WRONG.

Aside from the fact that it is a scheduling nightmare for the teacher and studio, I want to outline a few reasons why (in most cases) bi-weekly lessons do not work.

Source: Bi-weekly Lessons – Why they won’t work – The Piano Studio

Is Your Tune Piano in Tune?

piano-tuning

 

When it comes to tuning, every piano is different, even two pianos of the same style and make are different, and the humidity of the room makes a big difference, he said.

High humidity causes the sound board to swell, stretching the strings and causing the pitch to go sharp, while low humidity has the opposite effect.

In Minnesota, humidity can easily range from 80 percent in the summertime to 10-15 percent in the winter, if the home doesn’t have a humidifier. Wood-heated homes tend to be especially dry, he said.

“Pianos like it between 40 and 50 percent humidity in the house,” he said.

Even places that are supposedly “climate-controlled,” aren’t always. The heat might get turned down substantially evenings and weekends, for example.

A new piano needs a few weeks to settle into its new home before tuning, Fry said.

“If they get a new piano, generally they call us the day before it gets in the house,” he said. “It should sit in the house a couple weeks just to acclimatize it to its new surroundings … brand new pianos stretch for a while. They go out of tune quicker. The wire stretches and they settle into themselves.”

Some people think they have to let a new, or recently moved older piano, sit six months or a year before it gets tuned. That’s not true, Fry said, but it does need a few weeks.

He recommends that pianos be tuned at least once a year (he tunes his own piano once a year, even though he no longer gives lessons) and the busiest time for him is before the holidays — September through December.

“Piano-tuning is something people can put off,” he said. “We noticed a real drop in tuning when gas got over $3 a gallon. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but it did.”

Fry said he is looking for some kind of work to do in the summertime when his other businesses are slow.

He doesn’t give piano or guitar lessons anymore, but does enjoy tuning all types of pianos.

“It takes me a couple of hours. I have time,” Fry said. “I’m going to do the job that I like to do, and do it right.”

Read the entire article at Keeping pianos, life in tune | Detroit Lakes Online.

All About Music Theory

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As all my students know, I teach theory with all piano and organ lessons.  Sometimes, it’s from a theory book that matches a lesson book, sometimes on the fly on an “as needed” basis.

This book looks like it would be interesting to use as a review or to look ahead and see what’s coming.  I have just ordered a copy for the studio if you want to check it out at the next lesson.

From amazon.com:

 If you wish there was a fun and engaging way to help you understand the fundamentals of music, then this is it. Whether it’s learning to read music, understanding chords and scales, musical forms, or improvising and composing, this enjoyable guide will help you to finally start understanding the structure and design of music.

This fun-filled, easy-to-use guide includes:
* Music notation
* Scales and modes
* Melody harmonization and counterpoint
* Chord progressions
* Song form and structure

Listen and learn with the CD that has 90 tracks, including over 50 popular songs such as:
* Beauty and the Beast
* Candle in the Wind
* Imagine
* In the Air Tonight
* Killing Me Softly with His Song
* Let It Be
* Message in a Bottle
* Misty
* Satin Doll
* Take the ‘A’ Train
* Unchained Melody
* What’d I Say
* and more!

maryOivoryandroses

Schools Closing? We have a Plan!

Note:  As of March 16, 2020, All FCPS school buildings are closed until further notice.

What Will Happen If Schools Close In Fairfax County?

Piano lessons will continue because we have a plan!

Please note that I clean the piano and keyboard keys with Clorox wipes between each student.  Students are expected to wash hands before lessons and after using the restroom. Hand sanitizer is available.

I am continuously monitoring press releases from public health officials both locally and nationwide and have developed a plan for continuity in piano lessons should we need to implement it.

If any of the school districts that students in our studio attend close down or the health department provides suggestions to more seriously limit interaction and engage in social distancing, piano lessons will continue for students of ALL ages.

Our contingency plan if Fairfax County Schools close is to:

  • Close the physical studio temporarily
  • Provide online lesson options completely customized towards each student using an app/website called Tonara.  All students have been assigned user names and passwords already.  Your log-in information is in your student’s notebook or I will send it to you.
  • All assignments are due by the beginning of the student’s regularly scheduled lesson time and new ones along with comments about the past week will be given during the regular lesson time. Students will still be expected to continue practicing, completing all assignments and demonstrating progress.
  • We started using Tonara March 11, 2020 for assignments so that students will be accustomed to it is needed for real.
    • There will be assigned theory games using an app called SproutBeat.  You can download this in the app store. All students have been assigned user names and passwords already.  Your log-in information is in your student’s notebook or I will send it to you.

    • There may be assigned theory games using a website called SproutBeat Leap.  You use it in a browser window at https://leap.sproutbeat.com/home . All students have been assigned user names and passwords already.  Your log-in information is in your student’s notebook or I will send it to you.
      • There may be written theory work from your assigned theory book  If so, please take a picture of it in Tonara and upload it along with other assignments.  It could also be scanned and emailed to maryoconnor@gmail.com
      • For students with iPads, please be sure that you have downloaded PianoMaestro.  There will be weekly assignments listed under “Home Challenge”.  Please try to get 3 stars.  It is possible to slow the pieces down but you may lose points/stars doing so.  If it’s really hard, try the Learn Mode.
      • For students without iPads, I will assign at least one or two pieces to be videoed in the Tonara app/website and submitted to me for feedback.  These will be due by the beginning of the student’s regularly scheduled lesson time and new (or review) ones will be given during the regular lesson time. Feedback will also be provided during the scheduled lesson time.
      • Depending on how long school is canceled, we may have online lessons using StreamYard as a virtual piano studio during the regularly scheduled lesson time.  I will create a ‘broadcast’ for the day and send the same link to all my students.  When a student clicks in I see them “backstage” and add them to the lesson, so we can both see/hear each other.  Then when the lesson is over the next one has already arrived.  I click that one through and the 3 of us are there for a minute. they say hello/goodbye just like in a live lesson.
      • Other Apps you might want to try at home:
        1. Theory: Music Theory Pro – a great tool for preparing for auditions: scales, chords, intervals and more
        2. Theory: Jungle Journey
        3. Rhythm: Rhythm Swing – a fun, interactive game that covers basic note values
        4. Rhythm: Rhythm Lab – assign rhythms for students to practice and tap- hands alone or together
        5. Rhythm: Rhythm Cat
        6. Note-Reading: Flashnote Derby – a customizable game where students ‘race’ to select the correct note
        7. Note-Reading: Note Squish: think whac-a-mole with notes. Also customizable by clef (includes alto clef!)
        8. Note-Reading: Noteworks
        9. Note-Reading: Staff Wars
        10. Note-Reading: Note Rush:  great for keyboard geography. Students have to play the note that pops up
        11. Note-Reading: Treble Cat
        12. Note-Reading: Bass Cat
        13. Ear Training: Beat Melody – great intro to ear training
        14. Ear Training: Ear Cat

    Your payment will still be due at the same time. All assignments are due by the beginning of the student’s regularly scheduled lesson time and new ones along with comments about the past week will be given during the regular lesson time. Students will still be expected to continue practicing, completing all assignments and demonstrating progress.

    If you have an underlying health concern or family member who has one that you believe puts you in a high-risk group and you would like to take steps ahead of time to mitigate your exposure, please let me know and I will set up online lessons for you (see #10 above).

    Did I forget anything? Questions or comments? 

At What Age Should A Child Begin Music Lessons?

child-piano

These days, there is much pressure for parents to begin their children in activities from an early age.  We know that children tend to pick up new skills easily and we want for them to have an opportunity to become experts at these new skills.  We also see curiosity, desire and eagerness to learn in our children and want to capitalize on that.

Music lessons are no exception.  We often get calls asking the question, “When is the best time to enroll my child in piano lessons?”  The answer to that is a tricky one, and varies for each child.  The right age for one may not be the right age for another.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering enrolling your child in music lessons:

1.   Does my child have an attention span to sit still for chunks of time and listen to instruction?

Many teachers today are very creative in using off-bench activities during lessons and have a plethora of activities to make lessons fun and engaging.  However, the fact remains that your child will need to sit at the piano for some periods of time during the lesson.  It is important that your child have the attention span to do this.

Read more at  How do we know if children are ready to begin music lessons? « Piano Pedagogy @ The New School for Music Study.

How to Get your Kids to Practice at the Keyboard!

101

 

Let’s face it. Most kids don’t want to practice the piano. And if they do find the time to practice, it’s usually because their parent kept nagging them. How frustrating!

Piano teachers are frustrated too. It’s nearly impossible to teach students new concepts when they don’t understand the old ones–all because of a lack of practice.

If you’re a parent in this situation, I have just the solution you’re looking for.

In this upbeat book, I share all the tips I’ve discovered in my 14 years of teaching piano. You’ll learn fun, practical ways to get your kids to the keyboard.

But this easy-to-read guide goes one step further. I’ll show you simple ways to encourage better quality practice. Even if you’ve never had a music lesson in your life!

I wrote this book for kids of all ages. There are creative ideas for elementary students and also a section for teens.

There’s even a section for what to do if your child wants to stop taking piano lessons. That’s right, there is hope and my book will show you exactly how to get them interested in piano again.

Don’t be the kind of parent who sits on the sidelines waiting until their child wants to practice. Piano lessons are too expensive for you to let another “no-practice” day go by.

This book is your answer to get your child to the keyboard, have good quality practice and develop a life-long love of music.

Get it on Amazon

Piano Maestro: A Parent’s Guide

Piano Mania

 

It will be fun watching your child improve their piano skills all while having fun using Piano Maestro in lessons each week!

As your child’s teacher (or YOUR teacher!), I’m looking forward to seeing the progress they will make when they start using it at home each day. This guide will help you understand how this app will benefit your child and how to get it set up on your own iPad.

Overview
What is Piano Maestro?

Piano Maestro is the ultimate piano practice tool that will have students quickly playing their favorite classical, pop, rock, TV and video game songs and themes. It is available in the App Store and works on the iPad.

What skills does it improve?
• Note reading
• Sight reading
• Rhythm
• Inner pulse
• Confidence

What makes it so fun?
• Upbeat background tracks
• Stunning graphics
• Instant rewards and feedback
• Satisfaction of playing REAL music

It works with an acoustic piano?

Yes! Your child practices on your real acoustic or digital piano. Piano Maestro listens from the iPad’s built-in microphone. No wires needed.

I’m already paying for lessons. What value does this add?

Sometimes I wish I could be there with your child to encourage them to keep practicing daily. I’m sure it’s not always easy, as unforeseen challenges will arise.

Since our time each week is just too short, this app will give me eyes on the ground and it will keep them practicing longer and improving more quickly.

How will it be used in lessons?

I will spend a few minutes of each lesson helping your child master a couple of new songs all while having fun! I will also teach them how to use the practice options at home.

At the end of the lesson, we will choose Home Challenge assignments within the app that will show up in your account at home. I’ll get updates when progress is made.

 

 

Getting Started
Wow, this sounds awesome. Now, how do I get started?

1) Download Piano Maestro on your iPad from the AppStore
2) Create a JoyTunes account with a parent’s email, under which, you can have multiple profiles for each member of the family.
3) Create a profile for each family member (that means you too Mom and Dad!) inside the Parent/Teacher zone (top right-hand corner of the main screen)
4) Connect to your teacher, me! After creating a profile in the “profiles” tab of the parent/teacher zone, select the student’s profile and click “connect to teacher.” Once I approve the connection to your child, they will receive full access to all content for FREE! I will then also begin receiving weekly progress reports.
5) Start Playing – I will now start assigning you homework, meanwhile, get started on Journey Mode.

When you connect to the O’Connor Music Studio, Piano Maestro is free for as long as you study here.

Piano Lessons For Very Young Children

RT_Front-cover

Student books in 5 different categories are available now in both digital and hardcopy.  There is now “To the Lake”, “Outdoor Adventure”, “To the Farm”, “Country Carnival” and two levels of “Rockstar Rally”.

  • Ideal for students ages 4 and up.
  • On the staff from the start
  • Music is a mix of familiar tunes and original pieces
  • Multi-key approach
  • 18 songs that can be learned by note or rote
  • Clean easy-to-follow pages (great for special needs students!)

 

 

Two levels of Roadtrip! are currently available in Piano Maestro.

Register for Roadtrip!  Students (ages 4-5) are scheduled for half-hour lessons with their parents present.