Teaching

Ways to Praise: Words that Inspire, Encourage, and Motivate

Ways to Praise: Words that Inspire, Encourage, and Motivate

Have you ever thought about how you give praise and offer encouraging words? Is there a way to do this that promotes learning?

How can we use our words to foster the development of intrinsic motivation and a positive self-image in those we teach?

Think of a time when someone praised you for something you achieved or shared a word of encouragement. How did it make you feel? What do you remember about those moments?

Maybe you remember feeling appreciated or valued.
Maybe those words inspired you to keep going, to learn more, to challenge yourself to achieve greater things.
Maybe you remember feeling special and proud of yourself.

Praise is a powerful tool and one that we as educators can use to equip and empower those we teach to be the best they can be.

Six Practice Steps for Beginning Piano Students

Six Practice Steps for Beginning Piano Students

I love working with young, beginning piano students.

Our lessons are always full of imagination and creative exploration—their eyes wide with excitement and wonder when they make a connection or discover something new—and I always learn so much about myself as a teacher as we walk those first steps in their musical journey together.

That being said, we all know that when learning a new instrument, productive practice time at home is essential to learning and developing as a musician. 

Most of us see our beginning students for only 30 minutes a week, so time spent at the keyboard in between lessons can really make or break a student’s progress and the fulfillment they find in music-making.

An Inside Look at My Superhero-Themed Studio Incentive Program

An Inside Look at My Superhero-Themed Studio Incentive Program

Every year, I plan and create a 6-8 week incentive program for my piano studio. Mostly, this is for my beginning and elementary students (through 5th grade), though my middle schoolers (6th-8th grade) have been known to join in!

I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve found, while it's a great way to mix up our weekly lesson routine and give my students something fun to look forward to each week, it’s also a helpful way for me to assess their musicianship skills, take time to recognize their musical growth, and really tailor my instruction to each student.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with These Fun, Creative Music Games

Celebrate Valentine's Day with These Fun, Creative Music Games

Valentine’s Day is just over a week away!

Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking: Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday! Why should we “celebrate” this in our lessons and rehearsals?

I’m inclined to agree that Valentine’s Day is basically a Hallmark holiday, but at this point in the year, I’ll take pretty much any excuse to mix up my regular teaching routine and introduce something a little whimsical and fun (especially when gummy candy is involved!).

Let's Get Back to the Basics: A Free 5-Day Workshop for Church Musicians & Music Educators

Let's Get Back to the Basics: A Free 5-Day Workshop for Church Musicians & Music Educators

It’s the first week of the New Year and let me guess:

You’re looking back at 2018 and feeling a little worn out. You feel scattered. Your teaching approach feels haphazard and reactionary, and you wish you’d been a little more consistent these past few months.

You want 2019 to be different, but you’re not sure where to start.

You want to be the best teacher you can be, but taking on the task of improving your teaching skills is daunting. You’re not sure what to change or do differently.

Can you relate to that?

Three Things I'm Doing Differently in My Piano Studio This Year

Three Things I'm Doing Differently in My Piano Studio This Year

It's been a while since I've written anything about private teaching here. This is a big part of what I do during the week, even though I don't talk about it much here, and I know many of you teach privately, as well, in addition to the other things you do. 

I teach private lessons four days a week at a private school as part of their extracurricular and after-school programming. At the beginning of this year, I shared eight ways to continue developing your teaching skills this year.

A Fun Way to Incorporate Composing and Musical Creativity Into Your Teaching

A Fun Way to Incorporate Composing and Musical Creativity Into Your Teaching

Raise your hand if you tend to leave composing to those required college classes and the professionals who do it for a living.

Why is this? I think the biggest reason may be our own insecurity. I mean, how many of us grew up writing our own musical compositions? How many of us include this as a musical activity in our lives and work today?

If you had classical music training growing up, you probably didn’t spend much time composing or creating. Instead, the focus was likely on learning how to read and interpret what’s on the page (speaking from my own experience here).

The Secrets of Motivation: My 3 Biggest Takeaways from Daniel H. Pink's "Drive"

The Secrets of Motivation: My 3 Biggest Takeaways from Daniel H. Pink's "Drive"

I recently finished a book that’s been on my to-read list for a few years now - Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. The book is based on scientific research by people like Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, Carol Dweck, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, among others.

Before we dive in too deep, let’s talk about what motivation is.

Motivation is what drives us, what propels us forward, what challenges us to keep going; in more formal terms, it’s the "process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors” (source).

36 Ways to Use Rhythm Pattern Cards in Your Teaching

36 Ways to Use Rhythm Pattern Cards in Your Teaching

Rhythm pattern cards are a great way to teach new rhythmic concepts, reinforce familiar patterns, and build that all-important music vocabulary (the ability to understand and create your own musical patterns and sequences).

There are lots of different types of rhythm pattern cards out there - some you can buy, some you can download and print for free (like the set I'm sharing below!), and ideas for making some of your own.

They don’t have to be fancy! The ones I'm sharing today can be printed at home on white cardstock and cut into quarters (postcard-size).

How to Continue Developing Your Teaching Skills This Year

How to Continue Developing Your Teaching Skills This Year

As teachers, we’re never really done learning (and that’s a good thing!). 

John Dewey once said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

So true, right? The world is constantly changing and evolving and we need to be constantly changing, adapting, learning, and evolving along with it to be the best teachers we can be.

What do you want to learn this year? What kind of teacher do you want to become? 

I shared my answers to these questions on Facebook Live a few weeks ago. Watch the replay here, in case you missed it!