Tech Tuesday: Piano Maestro News

(I had a full day yesterday, so I didn’t get this post out in time, but better late then never right?)

So did you hear the exciting news yet? JoyTunes officially announced that their app, Piano Maestro is now FREE for teachers and their students! Click here for the official announcement.

I’m so excited! My students have been using Piano Maestro over the last 6+ months and they love it. Half of them are doing it at home as well. I would love to see all them have access at home eventually. The thing that I love most about this exciting news is that it shows the world that despite the tech tools out there that can “teach” how to read notes, teachers are still important! JoyTunes knows that teachers are #1 and the app is a great supplemental tool.

If you haven’t had the chance to try Piano Maestro yet or don’t have an iPad. Now is the time to see what it’s all about. One of my favorite things to do with Piano Maestro is simply having my students play their scales with the app! Scales no longer get the groans they used to. It’s so much more fun with background music, getting 3 stars and sharing the moment!

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Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 8.56.09 AMHeads up! My September guest will be posting more about Piano Maestro so keep your eye out! Are you part of the JoyTunes Teachers group on Facebook? If not, be sure to join here.

Musical Riddles

I decided to extend the “teachinghelpingteachers” donation for Musical Riddles another day. If you missed it yesterday, I’m donating a percentage of this product to help another music teacher who is in need. It is a fun powerpoint that could be used in group classes and camps where students figure out the answer to the musical riddle. You can check it out here. Thanks!

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You can use musical riddles as a scavenger hunt (I did this at Christmas camp one year) or in a game show style setting, or simply as a review. Enjoy!

Teachers Helping Teachers

If you missed the announcement yesterday on Facebook, TpT is having a 1 day back to school BOOST sale. One more chance to get stuff on your wish list. Yay!


In conjunction with the sale, I am donating a percentage of my Musical Riddles powerpoint to help another music teacher in need. When you go to TpT, just type in “teachershelpingteachers” in the search bar and you will see all the products that many music teachers are selling to help.

If you haven’t visited my store in a while, I recently added a bunch of puzzles! Be sure to check out the bundles and MEGA bundle for the best deals!

Remember feedback is important. I thought I would share a helpful post in how and the why of leaving feedback on TpT. Please take a moment as it gives very helpful advice.

Leaving TpT Feedback (how and why)

Don’t forget to use code: BOOST when you check out today!

Oh! And I am just 13 followers away from posting a FOREVER FREEBIE in the store. So if you aren’t a follower yet, be sure to click the follow button!

Fall Kickoff 2014

A couple weeks ago, we kicked off the new school year! When students walked in, I gave them their Getting to Know You sheet to fill out for the year.




Then students shared their practice prop projects they worked on over the summer. (Students make a project that represents their practicing. This can be minute based, goal based or piece based). Here are a few. If you want to see more with more details, then visit my studio blog. I’ll be posting them in the next day or two…





IMG_2961I then introduced our new theme and program- REACH BEYOND THE STARS





This year I want students to play A LOT of music so they each received a music binder. I had them decorate their binder. These binders will be filling up with lots of fun music from…

Higgledy Piggledy Jazz

Jerald Simon

Piano Morning

Piano Pronto

Supersonics Piano

Teach Piano Today-Piano Book Club

Will Bailey Piano Tunes

Isn’t this an awesome line up?




Then if we had a little time at the end we played this fun space jokes game




I just have to say, this year is going to be OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Spotlight Solos Winner



Congratulations! Our winner for Jennifer Eklund’s- Spotlight Solos book is…

Valerie Merrell

Good news for everyone! Jennifer is running a back to school special for the month of August. Everything in her PianoPronto store is 20% off. Now is the time to take advantage and stock up!

Be sure to use code: school20 to get your discount when you order. Thanks for the giveaway Jennifer!

ASMTA Conference: Transfer Students

Transfer Students- Lee Galloway

(Notes from conference…) 

Concert pianists study- There was usually a distinct difference between beginner teacher and intermediate teacher.

Beginning- fun, relaxed, love of the music, (usually no technique exercises), etc.

Intermediate- Intense, musical detail

A number of students remarked that if they would have started with their intermediate teacher they would have quit.

When/how to orchestrate that shift…? Should be a gradual shift. Start with the love and music and then gradually add in the technique exercises etc.


-Are you currently taking lessons?

-Why are you switching teachers? If they won’t or can’t answer. Ask for some pros and cons of the teacher.

-Was the student progressing? Why or why not?

-Does the student practice independently?

Interview or Audition-

Audition- you are looking for a specific type of student.

Interview- you are looking to fill a spot. Willing to take various students.

Have parent bring 2-3 years of music that they have been working on and assignment books..

Look inside books, are pieces being skipped? Is there a pattern to the skipped pieces? (harder rhythms, etc…)

Most of the interview, talk to the student no matter how old they are. Talk with them as an equal. Ask for opinions, how they feel about music, lesson, their past teacher.

This will also allow you to gage the parent reaction, how much they want to interject, if there is any “infection” between parent and student, etc.


-Do they like to perform? If yes, What do they like about performing?

-What kind of music they like?

-For older students- what are they hoping to achieve with lessons?

-What is their experience with past teachers?

-Why do you think your changing teachers?

-What did you like about the teacher?

-What do you think about practice?

Often times the interview it is the first time that an adult is showing interest in the child directly.

Have the student play something. Determining what the student can do. Strengths, weaknesses and sense of level.

Keep some distance. Always compliment the student- find something positive to say.

Never criticize the previous teacher.

Have them play a piece finished and almost finished, and halfway there.

Gives opportunity to do a little bit of teaching (only in the almost finished and/or halfway there)- see how they respond to something new. Have you ever considered…

Ask theory, technique etc.. ?’s, clap backs

Does their technique support the piece?

Sight-read- err to the low side


No matter what you did in the interview, you still don’t know what the student is totally capable of, level they are in, etc… until you had a few lessons with them.

Use their materials first for a few weeks to gage where they are before transferring them to other materials.

Give ego pieces- sound hard but easy to play.

Monitor student satisfaction, self esteem, and motivation.

Doesn’t polish every piece, intermediate level you polish more.

1st-2nd week- you improve a lot

3rd-4th week- still improve

after 4th- polishing


Do you do interviews before taking on students? I always do.  They can last anywhere from 30-60 min. but they are ALWAYS worth my time doing. When I meet with students for the first time I go through an evaluation process that will allow me to see where students are at. I have these evaluation forms available in my TpT store here. I have 3 versions. Early Childhood, Beginner and Transfer students.