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The 4 Keys to Conducting Personalized Learning Like a Maestro

by Troy Strand

I stood facing 47 middle school students. Their eyes were all on me and a hush fell over the gathered audience of families, teachers and community members. For the next eight seconds, they all had one job: wait for my hands to raise. After that, their tasks were vastly different.

Some played complex paradiddles on percussion instruments; some played delicate scale passages on woodwind instruments; others played bombastic fanfares on brass instruments.

We were putting on our spring band concert, the culmination of months of focused rehearsal. We had worked hard to presen…

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That Hard Passage

by Karen Kubin

It has happened already twice this week.

The first time was with my almost-thirteen-year-old daughter, who was working on her new piece and balking at the thought of working out a new passage. “It’s too hard!” she complained. Somehow I managed to get her to play through it slowly, to prove to her that it was, in fact, playable. Then she realized she already had it in her ear. She got excited, and she started working in earnest. Soon she was racing through those few new measures, thrilled at
how fun they were to play. I will not pretend it is always this easy—it rare…

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Finding Time to Play

by Cathy Smetana

I am, first and foremost, a teacher. I do not have a church job, or play for weddings, or do a lot of accompanying. I do not currently have a significant other with whom to share expenses and chores; in spite of my best efforts, my cat Pablo simply blinks imperiously at me when I suggest he could use his big fluffy tail to help with the dusting. I love to teach, and teaching pays the bills, so . . . I teach. A lot. Six days a week during the school year and four-to-five days in the summer, until the middle of August, forty-plus private students, …

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Learning Styles and Teaching: Recognizing Similarities and Differences

Music and the Brain: Melissa Wenszell, April 6, 2017

Developing Your Online Presence

by Hanno Strydom

I delivered this presentation, Developing Your Online Presence, at a MacPhail Music Learning Lab Idea Exchange on October 18, 2016.

This session is loaded with ideas about why and how to develop an online presence for yourself or your studio. With real-world examples and demonstrations of some of the key tools—like one of the most popular drag-and-drop website builders and YouTube—you will leave equipped to start your own website, blog, video blog, or YouTube channel. The session also includes a discussion of the costs involved and the equ…

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ENVoY Training Part 2

by Candis Parrish

In my last post, I emphasized the importance of non-verbal communication and outlined some of the factors the go into the way teachers present themselves in the classroom. This post will cover some practical things you can do in the classroom to improve your non-verbal communication.

Getting Student Attention with "Above/Pause/Whisper"

Try this technique to get the students focused on you:

  • Speak louder than students
  • Pause for a second
  • Whisper a few words

Teacher voice should be two steps above student voices to start.  Then pause.  Then whisper a few w…

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ENVoY Training Part 1

By Candis Parrish

Do you ever feel like you’ve planned a standards driven lesson that’s both engaging and fun, only to have it fall flat because you spend more time dealing with behaviors than teaching your class?  Have you tried management systems like breaks and timeouts with limited success?  Learning how to effectively use non-verbal signals can help you successfully manage student behavior while keeping the focus on what’s really important: the learning. 

ENVoY (Educational Non-Verbal Yardsticks) is a management system that teaches how to utilize your body, voice, eyes, a…

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Incredible Music Teaching Apps for Ipad

Jeremy Hanson recently shared some apps that he uses while teaching piano. Click on the image below to view the pdf where you can click on each of the links to learn more. 

Highlights from NCKP 2015 (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy)

By Cathy Smetana

In July, I was one of several hundred piano teachers to descend upon Lombard, Illinois for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.  I’ve attended this conference (or one of its predecessors) many times, and 2015 was one of the best years ever.

The conference is offered every other year and officially runs from Thursday-Saturday in late July or early August, depending on the year.  One can register for the entire conference, or day at a time.  There is a discount for early registration.  An optional pre-conference seminar is typically offered on Wednesday.  The c…

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“Inspiration through Connection”

By Beth Turco 

During your lessons with students, do you feel the pressure to pack in all the information they need to know about technique, music theory and fundamental skills at the instrument? Isn't is difficult to remember to nurture the student's love of music? And how exactly can we accomplish that? On Friday, October 9, Richard Tostenson answered these questions and many more in his engaging workshop, "Inspiration through Connection."

In his charismatic and humorous style, Richard offered a winning formula about how to ignite a student’s love of music, through an approach t…

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Idea Exchange: Tips for Teaching Older Adults

By Tamra Brunn

The MacPhail Music for Life™ program is expanding at MacPhail Center for Music and we currently serve over 1,000 adults age 55+ in our student body! Earlier this month we gathered together a panel of experienced Music for Life teaching artists—Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, Joey Clark, Jerry Rubino, Andrea Leap, and Guna Skujina—to share teaching tips for older adults. Experiences ranged from leading choirs to individual lessons to group piano teaching and more. Attendees jumped right in sharing their experiences, asking questions, and getting tips to br…

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