Professional development while drinking my tea! (Part 2)

Today was day 2 of MusicEdConnect!  I’ll be doing a 3-part series on what the conference is & highlights from each day.

Teaching Lessons Online

Alejandro Cremaschi and João Paulo Casarotti had a wonderful session on teaching online with several demonstrations throughout of the different technologies that can be used.

There are 2 types of online lessons.

  • Real-Time Instruction
    • Interact with student live & can give immediate feedback.
    • Apps: Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts
  • Time-Lapse Instruction
    • Videos are made ahead of time & sent between teacher & student
    • No live interaction with student

I often will use real-time instruction when either myself or my students are sick, or when the weather has made travel unsafe to student homes.  FaceTime is the app of choice for my students & I simply because all my students have access to the app on their iPads.

However, the concept of time-lapse instruction is very interesting to me.  I could see this integrating with lab time when I have 2 students simultaneously.  Imagine teaching one student at the piano while the other watches an instructional video & then makes a video for me to review during the week.   Some of the ways I will be using this are:

  • Theory
  • Rhythm
  • Technique
  • Music History
  • Introduction to a song

One way I have ‘accidentally’ already used time-lapse instruction was when I had a student practice the rhythm for an upcoming piece.  Once the student practiced the rhythm, their parent recorded them on my lab time iPad.  I reviewed the video after lesson & went through the rhythm next lesson knowing exactly where the student needed extra help!  It was so much more efficient knowing what to skip over & what we needed to focus on.

Alejandro & João Paulo provided an extensive list of equipment that can be used in the set-up as well which will save me (& hopefully you as well) time down the road on research!

10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I First Started Teaching

There were a lot of amen’s & hallelujah’s during this session.  Some of the lessons Elizabeth Gutierrez shared were:

  • Investing time & effort with piano parents is well worth it.
  • Teaching young beginners is fun!
  • Teach theory at the keyboard rather than just from books.  Student get a much deeper understanding.
  • Rhythmic skills training is key to mastering songs.  This is especially true for internalizing a steady pulse (beat).
  • Words matter … think about what & how you explain things to your students.
  • Praise in many different ways.
  • Acute listening skills must be taught & reinforced.
  • Teaching in lesson HOW to practice, not just what to practice.
  • The importance of community between teachers & studio owners.
  • Knowing YOUR story & being able to articulate it in a concise manner.  Be confident!
  • Policies are a contract between parents & the studio owner.  Be clear about the expectations for each.
  • As a teacher, our creative abilities need to be nurtured over the years so we are able to creatively problem solve within lessons.  Not everyone learns the same, so the unique solutions are needed for students.

Student Compositions Made Easy

Charlene Jarvis guided us through the process her students go through when making their own compositions.  What I liked was the breakdown of the different weekly tasks & how to help students who were nervous about the process.

After giving a theme, the weekly tasks were:

  • Lyrics
  • Rhythm
  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Notation
  • Expression
  • Practice
  • Publish
  • Perform

The teacher’s role is to guide the student through each step & give them options so they learn about the structure of music, as well as make artistic choices based on the mood & story they are telling.

Starting early gives student a few months to create, polish & publish compositions they can be proud of!  Having a recital gives a tangible deadline to help keep students on track as well.  Since this is a project we will be doing in our studio later on, I took quite a few notes on how to set this process up for success!

Dogfooding – An Essential Staple in Your Studio Diet

This next session, also by Charlene, was an interesting look at our studios.  “Dogfooding” is a tech term that means “to use a product or service developed by that company so as to test it before it is made available to customers” (Google definition).

How does this apply to piano lessons?  We should always test assignments & projects BEFORE giving them to students.

This helps us:

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Write better instructions
  • Troubleshoot complex activities
  • Get your timing right
  • Create prototypes
  • Revisit the mind of a beginner
  • Tweak your design
  • Present with appeal

A great way to do this is to give clear practice expectations & goals for each week.  In fact, even BETTER is to show them how YOU, as the teacher, did the same steps & what your results were!

When we take into account how our students or clients see or do something, the experience we create for them is all the better.  The time we spend ahead of time only increases the professional image that we present & creates a level of trust with our students (especially when it comes to practice time).

Improve Your Teaching Effectiveness

Dr. Sara Ernst presented our last session of the day, but the topic was one I hope we all strive to do on a daily basis: improving our teaching within lesson.  The specific focus of this session was on how we give feedback in lesson so our students get the most out of their lessons.

One of the best ways to do this was to follow a sequential pattern.

  1. Teacher Presents Objective … KNOW the target!
  2. Student Response / Performance … LISTENING & WATCHING
  3. Teacher Feedback … ASSESSMENT guides the NEXT STEP

The MOST effective way to use lessons is to:

  • Give a specific objective (focus on one thing at a time)
  • Really listen to student playing
  • Give specific feedback (base it on what the objective was)

When a student isn’t progressing (& we know they are practicing during the week), we should ask ourselves:

  • Am I being specific in the objective?  (i.e. play this section with correct fingering)
  • Am I listening for that objective as the student plays?  Or, am I distracted with other things? (like writing something down)
  • Am I giving general feedback (i.e. good, great) or making sure the feedback is related directly to what I asked the student to do?

These were great reminders for my own teaching to ensure that I am giving my most effective teaching to each of my students!

 Part 3 Coming Up

Today was another great day of learning!  And, I am getting great reminders of what I should apply to my own teaching.

Just a quick reminder that it is still possible to purchase the replay pass which allows you to watch the videos anytime in before the end of 2018.

Also for another perspective on the conference, be sure to check out Jennifer’s posts over at Music Educator Resources!  She has provided great points from each of the sessions as well.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a peek into the last series of sessions.  ‘See’ you then!

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