Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts on "How I Made $100,000 My First Year as a Piano Teacher" by Kristin K. Yost

Image from
It's that time of year when piano teachers everywhere are busily preparing for the end of the spring semester, getting ready for summer lessons, groups, and camps, and making changes and updates to policies. For the past couple of weeks, I have been scouring blogs, piano studio websites, and other pages searching for tried-and-true pedagogical ideas, inspiration, and additional business and marketing advice.

Rewind to 2009 to Kristin K. Yost's earth-shattering conference session in which she announced that she, a piano teacher, had earned $100,000 her first year of teaching! I must admit, I was a little skeptical. I had been teaching privately for several years at that point, and I was now a full-time faculty member at a private college. Needless to say, $100K wasn't even on my radar. My wonderful piano pedagogy graduate student Desiree (check our her blog here!) and I scratched our heads in skepticism, with brows raised, and, unable to attend the conference that year, continued to wonder what we were missing...

Dotted Half Note Discovery

To add to the "Discovery" series of worksheets available on this blog, here is the next installment! Click to view Whole Note Discovery, Quarter Note Discovery, Quarter Rest Discovery, and Half Note Discovery. This Dotted Half Note Discovery is a review sheet students can complete after learning about the dotted half note. You can place it in a plastic sheet protector (I find the glossy ones to work best) and use it again and again! As I have mentioned before, my beginners LOVE using dry erase markers :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Where is Finger 1?" Finger Number Twirls

My youngest and tiniest student had her 7th lesson today. She is two years old and an absolute joy! We have been focusing on one letter of the music alphabet each week, and today we wrapped up with Letter G (more about that later), so it was time to begin working on finger numbers together. I wanted to create something that would be cute, fun, and memorable for a Pre-K child to use to identify finger numbers. I thought about using a ring with a number 1 on it to identify her thumbs as finger 1, but I didn't have any rings so I decided to use finger puppets instead. There are quite a few cute finger puppet templates from which to choose if you search online hard enough, but I couldn't find any with numbers on them, so I decided to make my own!

  • To teach finger number 1 to my youngest student, age 2
  • To offer a fun way to remember finger number 1
  • To incorporate movement and singing into learning finger numbers
  • Pre-K through early elementary
  • Young beginners
  • Print the colored zebra number circles onto white card stock, or print the black and white zebra number circles onto white or colored card stock
  • Cut out the circles you need (I cropped and pasted and decreased the size of the circles until I had 4 small sets of numbers 1 to 5 on the same page, two for my student and two for me)
  • Cut the pipe cleaners in half with wire cutters
  • Wrap about 80% of the short pipe cleaner around a pencil or your pinky to create a corkscrew shape (a "twirl")
  • Hot glue the zebra number circle to the straight end of the pipe cleaner
  • Place on your student's thumbs and get ready to sing this little "piggyback song" (song that uses a familiar tune but has new words) that I made up. Sing to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"
    • Where is finger 1? Where is finger 1? {sing with hands behind back}
    • Here I am! Here I am! {bring thumbs from behind back}
    • Wiggle finger 1. Wiggle finger 1. {wiggle thumbs}
    • Twirl around. Twirl around. {spin around in a circle}

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Music Alphabet Mystery - Sneaking UP the Stairs

This week I needed a simpler version of the original Music Alphabet Mystery that didn't sneak down the stairs as well as up them, so here it is!

  • To review stepping up within the music alphabet 
  • To solidify the concept "stepping up = moving forwards in the music alphabet"
  • To have the student say aloud each letter of the music alphabet stepping up 
  • To prepare students for speaking and playing 5-note scales/5-finger patterns
  • This printable sheet
  • Plastic sheet protector
  • Dry erase markers
  • Eraser for dry erase markers
  • Timer if you wish to make this a timed activity for students who are already music alphabet savvy
  • The first page, subtitled "Sneaking Up the Stairs", is appropriate for younger students in the elementary grades
  • The second page, titled "Stepping Up in the Music Alphabet", is appropriate for any age, including adult students
  • Beginners who are working on the music alphabet and stepping up within it
  • Non-beginners who need reinforcement of stepping up within the music alphabet 
  • Print out the sheet you wish to use with your student
  • Laminate it or place it in a plastic sheet protector (I find the glossy ones work best)
  • Give it to the student to complete either within the lesson or at home

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Simon Says..." RH/LH, Finger Numbers, and Piano Keys Review Game

{Updated 7/20/2015 with a brand new version of this game called "Beethoven Says". You can find it in my TpT store by clicking here. Enjoy!}

I have an adorable kindergarten student who just had her eighth piano lesson yesterday. She is still having a little bit of trouble with her finger numbers (especially LH 4, 3, 2 and RH 2, 3, 4) and remembering which hand is her right hand and which is her left hand, but she does extremely well when I ask her to play, for example, all the D's on the piano. I decided to play a game of "Simon Says..." with her yesterday, incorporating right and left hands, finger numbers, and piano keys, and she loved it! She was great at playing the correct piano keys, so that was very reinforcing for her, and she had to think about her right hand and left hand and finger numbers, which was also a great review! Sneaky, sneaky, Mrs. Melody :)

  • To review right hand and left hand
  • To review all finger numbers 1 through 5 in random order
  • To review all piano keys by letter name, A through G, in random order
  • Piano keyboard (or multiple keyboards if using this activity in a group lesson)
  • The printable included below
  • Student(s) :)
  • This game is best for young elementary students and older Pre-K students
  • Beginners
  • I have included a table below that includes all the possible combinations of hand, finger, and piano key (I hope!). You could cut out each row of the table and place it in a bowl, then the student can draw a slip of paper, or you could draw the slips of paper yourself to save time, or you could "randomly" call out combinations from the table, leaving the sheet intact.
  • Simply choose right or left hand, then a finger number, then a piano key.
  • For example, you might say, in a very dramatic fashion with pauses if you wish, "Simon Says... with Right Hand... Finger 2... play all the F's." Be sure to pause long enough between each instruction so the student has time to figure out exactly what you are asking her to do.
  • Play for as long and as often as you like, or as much as the student needs to play to review everything sufficiently!
"Simon Says..." RH/LH, Finger Numbers, and Piano Keys Review Game


Updated 7/20/2015 with a brand new version of this game called "Beethoven Says". You can find it in my TpT store by clicking here. Enjoy!