4 Awesome Tips to Help Organize your Music Studio Darlene Irwin     September 06, 2016

September is here and that means it's time to get organized and ready to teach. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming because there is so much to do. In this blog post, I'd like to share with you four awesome organization ideas that can help you prepare for the fall. I've also included some free downloadable files.

 #1 Using an iPad (or other device) for Scheduling

There are so many different devices available with built-in calendars. If you haven’t done so already, now may be the time to embrace some of that new technology. I can only comment on Apple products because that’s what I have been using. My iPad has really changed the way that I organize my teaching schedule. The calendar works so much better than my previous hand-written sheets. Here are some of the advantages of this amazing tool.

  • You can set up your teaching schedule for the fall (lesson times and students). Once you have entered a student in the first week, you can have that event repeat throughout the year. Just make sure you go through the calendar and delete the lessons from the holiday weeks!
  • You can colour-code the entries. I use different colours for regular lessons, missed lessons, part-time lessons etc. (You'll have to delete that week's repeating entry and re-enter it if you want to change colour). As with any app, there's always a learning curve as you try to adapt the program for your own needs. But I can tell you from experience, it's well worth the effort!
  • At the beginning of each lesson, you can set an alarm to sound when the lesson is finished (with a 5-minute warning). This really helps you to stay on time.
  • You can add comments to specific lessons using the notes at the bottom of each event (i.e. reasons for missed or changed lessons)
  • Lessons can easily be moved around making re-scheduling a breeze.
  • The search function is fantastic. In an instant, you can see all the lessons for one student for the entire year.
  • The entire calendar is backed up in the cloud, so you won’t lose any information.
  • The calendar on the iPad syncs through the cloud with any of your other Apple devices.

       #2 Studio Events Calendar

      Another great tool is my one-page Yearly Studio Calendar. You can use the same chart each year. Just change the dates and add all the important information that your students and parents need to know for the whole year (i.e. master classes, recitals, festivals, holidays, deadlines, exams, upcoming events, vacations, etc).  

      This Calendar can be e-mailed to your parents. I place a copy of the Calendar on the bulletin board in my waiting room. I also tape a copy in the back of each student’s Organizer so that we can refer to it at their lesson throughout the year. 

      This year, I have 3 PDF fillable versions of the Yearly Studio Calendar to share. All you have to do is download the file you want and then add the information for your own teaching year. 

      File #1 - Studio Calendar with all RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music) dates and Canadian holidays.

      File #2 - Studio Calendar with Canadian holidays only (for teachers who do not use the RCM system).

      File #3 - Studio Calendar with US holidays only.

      Note - PDF Fillable files that are sent by e-mail need to be opened with a program that reads the filled-in information such as Adobe Reader. Some e-mail programs will not show the filled-in information, however the information is still there.

       #3 Yearly Student Performance Tracking Chart

      I would also like to share my very handy ‘Student Performance Tracking Chart’ (Excel file) for organizing student performances throughout the year. You can add the student’s names plus all the dates for master classes, recitals and other performances. Then print this file and put it on a clipboard in your studio. This chart can then be used for performance planning throughout the year for your entire class.

      You can add pieces (in pencil) to the chart as they are chosen throughout the teaching week. I find that it’s faster in the lesson to work with a paper copy. Every 2 weeks or so, you can update the chart on the computer and print it again. That way, you'll know exactly what is being worked on for performances at all times. There's a special column in the chart for keeping track of total playing time for some of the pieces. This is useful when it comes to timing recitals, competitions or master classes.

      Here's the original file for my Student Performance Tracking Chart. You can download it and then add the names, dates and events from your own studio. I've also included 11 other worksheets for master class and recital program planning (see tabs at the bottom of the downloaded excel sheet).

       #4 The Student Music Organizer - The Complete Dictation Book

      Here are some of the benefits of using the The Student Music Organizer:

      • Saves time in a lesson. The book is so easy to use….all you have to do is fill it in and it’s designed to last for the entire year.
      • 8 1/2 x 11” format - there's lots of room for writing on each lesson page. Manuscript is also included at the bottom of each page.
      • Some sections included: Goal Setting, Favourite Pieces, Exam and Practice Planning.
      • Lots of History Reference Material: Composer Chart, Summary Sheets for Musical Time Periods (Baroque, Classical etc). 
      • Also includes Music Dictionaries (with terms grouped according to style, speed, touch, etc), Basic Music Theory Reference Guides and a very handy Comparative Fingering Chart for keyboard scales.

        Organization is the key to having a well-run studio. My students and parents especially appreciate it when they know exactly what is happening throughout the year. With a little planning ahead of time, you can sail into the fall knowing that everything is ready to go. 

        ♥︎ Remember - Great Music Comes From the Heart ♥︎ 

        Piano Photo by Miki Yoshihito

        Fall Photo by Darlene Irwin

        Extra, Extra, Read All About It….Easy and Effective Music Studio Newsletters Darlene Irwin     September 06, 2015

        Do you send out a Music Studio Newsletter at the beginning of the teaching year?

        Well, if you don’t, then maybe this year is a good time to start! Communication is the key to running a successful music studio. Having your own Music Studio Newsletter is a great way to kick off the teaching year in an organized and professional way.

        I are probably wondering....where do I start?? In this blog post, I’d like to give you some quick and easy ideas on how to effectively write your own Music Studio Newsletter. A simple letter format works best for me because I have quite a bit of information that I want to share and I need the extra room. However, if you are feeling creative, you could also use a fancy template that allows you to add pictures to give your newsletter a little more punch. Programs like Word or Pages have sample Newsletters that you can easily adapt for your own use.




        Planning Steps for Writing Your Music Studio Newsletter

        Organize your Information Before You Start to Write

        • Plan your teaching schedule well ahead of time. How many weeks are you teaching during the year? When are you taking holidays? When do lessons end for the year? Parents need to know this so they can plan their own holidays.
        • Set dates for your important events such as master classes and recitals. Parents can add these events to their calendars at the beginning of the year. Students are more likely to attend if they know the dates well in advance. Make sure that you have all other important deadlines and dates for things like exams, auditions and festival classes.

        Start with a Friendly Introduction

        • Begin by welcoming all returning and new students. You can also highlight any new programs or activities. Be enthusiastic….let your students know how excited you are to see them again. 

          Explain Studio Programs or Incentives

          Highlight Student Accomplishments

          • Students and parents love to hear about the successes of other students in your studio. It helps to make them feel part of the group. Make sure that you have permission to share this information. 

          Review Policies and Procedures

          Share Other Important Information

          • Include other information such as teacher qualifications, specific requests i.e.wash hands before lesson, where parents should park, how you would like to be addressed by students, piano tuner information, what is the best way to contact you etc.

          End on a Positive Note

          • Your newsletter can help set the tone for the entire year. It also helps to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings. Be positive, encouraging and excited about the upcoming year.

          Include a One-Page Studio Calendar

          • A yearly studio calendar is a great way to keep everyone organized. I make a copy of my Studio Calendar for my students and then tape it in the back of their Student Music Organizer. That way, we can refer to it all year long.

            Free Downloads

            1) Click HERE to download the first style of Newsletter - a simple 5-page  format without pictures or graphics. The file is an easy-to-use Word Document (doc). Feel free to copy, add, change, or delete whatever you like. Once your newsletter is completed, re-save it as a PDF file for mailing to parents and students. It's best not to send your original document file.

            2) Click HERE to download a 6-page WORD template for a fancier Newsletter with pictures. It looks better, but there are a few of drawbacks to using this format. It's a little fussier to work with and it has limited writing space because of all the graphics. Even as a PDF, it's also a much larger file (6.1MB) . This is a consideration when you are sending your newsletter electronically. 

            3) Click here to download a handy 2015/2016 Studio Calendar Template. All of the statutory holidays have been added plus all deadline dates for Royal Conservatory (RCM) exams. It’s in a FILLABLE PDF format, so you can easily add your own dates for events and deadlines specific to your own studio.

            In conclusion, I’d like to share with you a statement that I always include at the end of my Music Studio Newsletter.

            “It is very important to me that your child enjoys their music lessons.
            My primary goal as a teacher is to assist my students
            to develop a love of music that will last for a lifetime. 
            Remember, teaching is like a triangle.
            The parent and the teacher are at the bottom supporting the student at the top.
            Working together as a team is the best way to ensure musical success. 
            I am looking forward to another exciting musical year together.”

            Once you have completed your Studio Newsletter and Calendar, you can quickly and easily e-mail both files to all of your students.  Parents will be grateful that you took the time to keep them informed and students will know what you expect of them throughout the year. Have fun writing your own Music Studio Newsletter.

            ♥︎ Remember - Great Music Comes From the Heart ♥︎

            Reach for the Stars Darlene Irwin     January 05, 2015

            The holidays are over and life is slowly returning to normal. 

            I’m sure that everyone is anticipating the return to teaching this week. I think that one of the biggest challenges teachers face is trying to keep students motivated and excited about practicing, especially after they have had a break from their normal routine. 

            I have several incentives in my studio to help motivate my students. Some of these have already been outlined in a previous blog post entitled “Stickers, Charts & Rice Krispie Squares—Strategies for Practice Motivation”.

            My students record their weekly practicing on their assignment page in their Student Music Organizer. If they have met their practice goals, then they receive a special Sticker of the Week. They can also put a special sticker on the wall chart in the studio. And I have treat week every 5 weeks.

            All of this helps to keep them on track with their goals. However, I was concerned that they weren’t always focusing on and completing their weekly assignments. And so I came up with a fun program that I called 'Reach for the Stars'.

            This program works especially well with junior students. It’s important to note that it is not mandatory. I give each participating student a 'Reach for the Stars' Information Sheet explaining exactly what I require for each star.  Some of the requirements may not apply to all students. For example, some students may not be yet working on technique. I take all of this into account when assigning stars.

            Here’s how it works: 

            Each week, a student receives a coloured star at the end of their lesson. The colour they receive will depend on how well they have prepared for their lesson (SUPER GOLD, Gold, Silver, Blue or Red). I assign points to each coloured star and keep track of their scores throughout the year using a special 'Reach for the Stars' Tracking Chart. (Click here to download my original Excel file).  I do not share their actual accumulated scores with each other.....this information is kept confidential. However, my students do know exactly what I expect from them each week because I write detailed notes in their Organizers. 

            I usually start this program in October after we’ve had a few lessons together. However, it works just as well starting in January and running until June. The important thing is that they are not competing with each other, but with themselves and how well they have prepared for their lesson each week at their particular level. That way a beginner has equal opportunity to receive a Super Gold Star if they complete their weekly assignments.

            Here are the criteria for each star:

            SUPER GOLD (20 points)

            • A Super Gold star is saved for something amazing.
            • There has been an extra special effort.
            • Something has really impressed me.
            • (Extra theory, pieces memorized, musical playing that gives me goose bumps) 
            • A very organized, musical and well-prepared lesson. 

            Gold (15 points)

            • There has been a Special effort. 
            • ALL assigned pieces are played VERY WELL. Some may be memorized.
            • Playing is excellent and musical
            • Theory is completed and well done.
            • Assigned scales are played well with correct fingering.
            • All required practice time is completed and noted on their chart (see Organizer).

            Silver (12 points)
            • There has been a very good effort, but not quite GOLD.
            • Most assigned pieces are played well.
            • Theory is completed. 
            • Assigned scales are good but still need some work.
            • All required practice time is completed and noted on their chart.

            Blue (10 points)

            • There has been a moderate effort.  
            • Assigned pieces are better but some still need work.
            • Theory is completed or almost completed.
            • Assigned scales have improved but some still need work.
            • Required practice time is completed or is almost completed.
            • 1 point deducted if theory is not completed.

            Red (7 Points)

            • There has been some effort, but there is room for improvement.
            • Most assigned pieces need more work.
            • Theory may not have been completed. 
            • Assigned scales need more work.
            • Required practice may not have been completed.

            I have a very cool Musical Treasure Box in the studio filled with goodies. The Dollar Store is a great place to buy things for the Treasure Box. My Treasure Box was a gift from a looks like a musical book! This gives students an added incentive to try their best each week. Students can pick something from the Musical Treasure box each time they accumulate three gold or super gold stars (they don’t have to be in consecutive weeks).


            At the end of the year I total all of their earned points. I then give Star Awards at the recital in June. First place receives a small trophy. I give ribbons for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place. I will give ties if the scores are close. Every student receives a participation ribbon.

            'Reach for the Stars' is a fun way to start the New Year with a fresh and interesting approach. This program helps my students stay motivated. It also helps them gain confidence for upcoming performances and exams. They really try to accomplish what is expected each week. They think about what they are practicing instead of just playing something to fill in time and they strive for perfection in their work. In short, they start to find the music hiding in the notes!

            Have fun trying something new in the New Year…..have fun Reaching for the Stars. 

            ♥︎ Remember - Great Music Comes From the Heart ♥︎

            Photo credit: "Star Walkers" by Paul Kline

            Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.....Recital Darlene Irwin     December 01, 2014

            It's December and preparations for Christmas are in full swing.

            Last Friday evening, I held my annual Christmas Piano Recital/Musical Party. My students look forward to this event all year long. They started picking their pieces months ago. I have a rule that once you pick a piece it's one else can play it. One student has already picked her piece for next year.....The Bell Carol is certainly one of the most popular selections! They don't have to choose a Christmas song, but most of them did. One student decided to play Sonatina in G+ by Clementi. We both felt that this was a great opportunity for him to test his memory for an upcoming Grade 8 exam. (I did think of calling it The Christmas Sonatina…..maybe not!)  

            The recital was a huge success. All students were in attendance and everyone had a great time. Some used their music, some took the music up and didn’t even look at it and some felt brave enough to play from memory. The most important thing is that they were excited to share their music with each other. 

            This was certainly the case with my youngest student. She could hardly wait to play Jingle Bells with me. She has only had 11 lessons, but she already plays with confidence and she loved having the bells on her arm.


            I'd like to share my six secrets for planning the best Christmas recital ever:

            Be organized

            I use an Excel sheet called 'Christmas Recital Planning Charts' to organize and prepare for my recital. The file contains several worksheets including the Initial Planning Chart, a Program Planning Chart, the Final Program Planning Chart and a Refreshment Sign-up Chart. I use the Initial Planning Chart to time the pieces before I put the program together.

            I find it works well to have the students sitting together at the front of the hall. It helps to have numbers on the students' seats. That way, the students know where to sit and what order they play in. This facilitates the flow of the program. 

            Shorter is Better

            Time the recital pieces! Parents and students will get restless if the program is too long. I find that 60-75 minutes works best…I call this a 'Father Friendly' recital. If you have lots of students, you could hold two separate events (Junior and Senior). My Christmas recital last Friday started at 7:00 and was over by 8:00.


            Be Prepared

            Make sure the students have 6-8 weeks to work on their pieces. Some students are able to get their songs up quickly...that's great. We can put those pieces on a shelf and work on something else in the meantime. However, most students require more time to feel comfortable performing in front of an audience. It's important that they also prepare mentally for their performance. They are not allowed to say the word nervous….instead I tell them that they are 'excited'…it’s a whole different feeling.

            The Three Levels of Memory

            This leads to my next point....pieces should be memorized. I don't require them to play from memory at the recital unless they feel at ease doing so. However, they will play so much better if their piece is memorized.

            I have a theory about memory and performing. (My students know that I always have a theory about something!)

            My theory is that there are three levels of memory. 

            Level 1: The first level is if you can play it at home, but not for me. 

            Level 2: You can play it for me but it is still not really ready for a performance.

            Level 3: You can play it for anyone. Your piece is memorized in sections and you have many safety nets all the way through. I saw a quote on Facebook that went something like this  - "Don’t practice until you can play it right. Practice until you can’t play it wrong!"

            One of my students played Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky. We discussed the fact that it was written for the celesta. That led to the idea of performing it on her keyboard, which has a cool celesta setting. 



            Variety is the Spice of Life

            Make sure that you have lots of variety. I love finding new and different arrangements of familiar songs. I place special numbers throughout the program and I list them in darker print on the program. This helps to keep the program interesting. Some of my students play other instruments as well. Last Friday, we had additional special performances with harp and voice, accordion, several duets and a fun keyboard piece. Here is an excerpt of What Child is This. The singer is a piano student who has never had formal training. She has a naturally beautiful voice that blended so well with the harp.


            Make it Fun

            Above all, the recital/musical party should be FUN. My students wouldn't miss is one of the highlights of our musical year. It is so important that this be a positive, enriching experience for them. Each Christmas, I make the traditional Piano Cake which is reserved just for them. After the recital, we had an informal social time with the parents supplying the rest of the refreshments. This also gave me a change to mingle, visit with their families and take pictures.

            At their lesson this week I will ask my students what they liked the best about the recital….something other than the food! I know that they will be excited to share their favourite moments. We might even pick their piece for next year. 

            This Christmas season, my wish for all my students is that they develop a deep love of music in all its beauty and variety, that they learn to play this instrument we call the piano, that they learn to sight read well, that they gain self-confidence as they perform and that they continue to play, enjoy and share this wonderful gift of music throughout their life.

            ♥︎ Remember - Great Music Comes From the Heart ♥︎

            Setting Musical Goals—The First Step to Success Darlene Irwin     September 21, 2014

            "A goal is a dream with a deadline."

            This is a quote from the early 20th century American author Napoleon Hill. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest writers on how to be successful in life. Another of his hallmark expressions was, "Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

            The beginning of the piano year is an ideal time to talk to our students about musical goals. It’s important that the teacher knows what the student would like to accomplish in the year ahead. The student also needs to know what the teacher believes they can achieve. 

            Here are some simple goal-setting strategies that you can use with your students:

            • always take a few minutes at the first lesson to discuss and record each student's goals. This gives me the opportunity to suggest an appropriate amount of practice time per week. Even beginners can have musical goals. For them, it can be something as simple as 'This year I’m going to love music!' On the Forbes website it states, "Creating clear and measurable goals and writing them down is the key to success."
            • Communication between parents, students and teacher is very important. Make sure that the parents have the same expectations as the students. Problems can arise when the goals of the parents are too difficult for the student. You may need to speak to the parent alone to express these concerns and come to a compromise. 
            • Goals for more advanced students might include finishing a level or grade (practical or theory), doing an exam or taking part in a competition. If students don’t want to do exams, then their goals could be to improve their sight reading by completing a certain number of classical or popular pieces. It helps to be specific. For example, a good goal might be to learn a number of scales or pieces by a certain date.
            • Musical goals will depend upon the students' abilities and also on how much time they can devote to practice. It’s important that their goals be achievable so they don’t get discouraged.
            • Having said that, sometimes I've had students set a goal that I thought was too difficult. I try to support them and so we discuss the practice time required to reach their goal. For example, last year I had a student who was working at a Grade 3 level. My goal for her was to do a grade 3 exam. However, she expressed a strong desire to complete Grade 4 by the end of the year. We adjusted her practice time and came up with strategies to accomplish this. She worked very hard and did complete her grade 4 with an excellent mark. 
            • Once we have set some attainable goals for the year, then we discuss how much time they will need to practice each week to attain those goals. Students are juggling many things—school, sports, their social life, family commitments and other activities. The list is endless!! I usually write 3 different daily scenarios on the practice page at the front of the Student Music Organizer....for example: good (30 minutes), better (35 minutes) and best (40 minutes). The length of time will depend on their grade and their goals. Once we have decided on their practice time, I require that they practice that amount 6 days a week...they can have one day off! We then break the time down even further.  (i.e. 5 minutes for Sight Reading, 10 minutes for Technique and 15 minutes for pieces).

            • Review the student's goals throughout the year. This helps to ensure that they are still on track. You may have to adjust the goals from time to time depending on the progress of the student. 
            • There is such a great feeling of accomplishment when students are able to reach their musical goals. A Musical Report card is a wonderfully positive way to finish the year. I always list goals that have been completed. I also recognize students at the year-end recital who have completed all of their practicing for the year. I call them my “Perfect Practicers” (see blog post entitled It's June - Musical Report Cards and a Fond Farewell).
            •  'The Student Music Organizer' has a special spot on page 2 at the front of the book for listing musical goals. This makes it very easy to review these goals regularly throughout the year. This page also includes a place to keep track of favourite repertoire and a section for exam planning. On page 3, there is a very handy place for planning and organizing the student's practice time.  

            Teaching is like a triangle. The parent and the teacher are at the bottom supporting the student at the top. Working together as a team is the best way to ensure musical success for the student. Remember - The First Step to Reaching your Goals is Believing You Can Get There.

             ♥︎ Great Music Comes from the Heart ♥︎ 


            Photo credit:


            Shedding Light on Effective Studio Policies Darlene Irwin     August 24, 2014

            A lighthouse stands as a symbol of security and safety. It helps sailors to navigate through rough waters and avoid the rocks along the shore. Having solid and effective studio policies in place will help you, as a teacher, avoid many unnecessary problems and conflicts. It’s important that everyone knows where you stand. You will find that your parents and students will have more respect for you as a teacher if you have a set of clear, concise rules and procedures in place. And, more importantly, they need to know that you will stick by those rules. That can sometimes be very difficult. Some of the policies that I have in place are because I had a difficult situation with a parent or student and I needed to address it. And, of course, there are always exceptions. These situations can be dealt with individually, at your discretion. But it is so important to have studio policies written down.


            Here are some simple ideas that you can use to formulate your own studio policies.

            • For teachers who are running their own business, collecting money can be one of the biggest problems. The first thing that I explain in my policies is how I expect the fees for lessons to be paid. There are many different ways to do this. After trying various approaches, I have come up with a system that works perfectly for me. 
            • I refer to the lesson fees for the year as tuition. After all, I am running a music school. I teach 35 weeks a year. I have divided those weeks into 5 terms with seven lessons for each term. 
            • In May, I e-mail the registration form to the parents along with a copy of my studio policies. I ask that this form be returned by the end of the June along with 5 post-dated checks for next year’s tuition. 
            • The date for the first check is always 2 weeks before I start teaching. That way, I know that all the funds will have cleared the bank before the first lessons in September.
            • I spread the dates for collecting the other 4 checks throughout the teaching year. One is cashed in early October, one in late November, one in late January and one mid-March. That way, all tuition is paid by mid-March.
            • It's not a good idea to have the 3rd check dated for mid-January. There are too many post-Christmas bills. It works much better to have it dated for the end of January or the beginning of February.
            • I always send a reminder to parents by e-mail the week before the check is cashed. I also write a reminder in the student’s Organizer. It’s easy for a parent to forget about a post-dated check.
            • I let parents know in the studio policies that all activities throughout the year are covered in the tuition. That includes Master Classes and Recitals. I include theory instruction in their lessons and I don’t charge extra to mark practice papers for theory exams. Parents appreciate knowing what they don’t have to pay for!
            • Once a check is cashed, I don’t give a refund. I also ask for one-months notice if they are stopping lessons. This will not always happen, but at least I have it written down.
            • I ask that attendance be regular and punctual. I let them know that if they arrive late, I will not make up the time. 
            • For illness, I ask for 24 hours notice if they have to cancel a lesson. I do charge for a lesson if it is cancelled at the last minute. I do not make up lessons if students are away on holidays. 
            • If parents know ahead of time that their child is going to miss a lesson for other reasons (sports games, school events, birthday parties etc), I will give them suggestions as to who they could switch with. It is their responsibility to arrange that switch and then let me know who they have switched with. Parents really appreciate this flexibility.
            • I have included a copy of My Studio Policies with this post. These policies are a result of years of experience and they have worked very well for me in my teaching. However, it’s important to stress that what works for me may not work for others. Every teacher and every area is different. If you wish, use this as a starting point to come up with policies and procedures that work for you. 

            As private music teachers, we have the best job ever. I love what I do! I love working with my students and inspiring THEM to love music. It’s great to see the excitement in their eyes as they grow and progress. It’s music to MY ears when one of my students says to me “I LOVE that piece!” I consider it a privilege to nurture their love of music.

            But it’s also important to remember that you are running a business. And in order for you to run your business effectively and professionally, it is imperative that you have written studio policies. May you have smooth waters as you sail into September this year. 

            ♥︎ Remember, Great Music Comes from the Heart ♥︎ 


            Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

            The iPad and the Music Teacher Darlene Irwin     January 05, 2014

            Today is my first time blogging... it’s a little scary, but here goes!

            My name is Darlene Irwin. I have a Bachelor of Music in Education and an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from The Royal Conservatory of Toronto. I am a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association and have served as president of our local branch. I have been teaching piano for many years. It is my love and my passion. I am also the author of "The Student Music Organizer" along with many other great teaching tools and aids.

            I am very excited to begin my blogging journey. My hope is that this will be a place where music teachers and students alike can talk about and discuss the very important task of inspiring our students. I envision a place where we can share ideas and help each other along the way.

            If you would like to receive notification of new blog entries and be part of the musical discussion, then please sign up for our mailing list. Please pass this along to any of your friends, colleagues or students. This post is just the beginning of a musical collaboration.

            The iPad and the Music Teacher

            This post is the first in a series for music teachers about getting the most out of your iPad. The iPad is an amazing tool for teachers. I literally use my iPad EVERY DAY I teach! It really has revolutionized my teaching. In this post, I will talk about two of the apps that I use most for managing my music studio:


            You can use the iPad calendar for keeping track of your teaching schedule... everything you need right at your fingertips. You can also colour-code your entries. I have different colours for regular lessons, lessons that have been changed, missed lessons, part-time lessons etc. At the beginning of each lesson, I set an alarm to sound when the lesson is over (with 5-minute warning). This helps me keep right on time.

            The search feature on the calendar is also very handy. I number the lessons #1-35 for the year. I can then type in a student’s name and up comes all their lessons scheduled for the year. (Note: the calendar will only search for the past year, so it's not ideal if you are looking for something further back than that).





            I have all of my students grouped together in the iPad's contact list. That way, I have all of their information conveniently accessible in the studio. I have separate entries for the parents and for each of the students. I put the birthdays of the students right on the calendar. For parents, I store the names of both parents, phone numbers (home, work, cell), e-mail address, home address etc. In the notes section, I can put specific information about each student such as: age in September, school, school grade, piano grade, goals etc. I also keep their information for doing exams, i.e. exam number. I take pictures of each of my students on their first lesson, which can be added right into their contact sheet.

            Stay tuned for more posts sharing creative ways to integrate the iPad in your teaching.