do you have a student who loves to color?
Each keyboard on the Color a Key Practice Chart represents one week of potential practice.
Have your students color a white piano key every day they practice. It's a colorful way to track their hard work!
I've also included another chart with longer keyboards.
Click here for instant access!
Other Posts you might be interested in
Welcome to Day 12 of the 12 Days of Inspiration!
Today we're talking about tricky personalities - Stinky Students, Talkative Kids, and Know-It-Alls. It’s just a day in the life of a piano teacher!
Instead of addressing "Vivace Influenza" or "Accidental Amnesia" like Nicola Cantan’s fabulous book, The Piano Practice Physician’s Handbook, I'll be looking more at personalities.
So in the spirit of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and her delightful “cures” for difficult children, here are 12 solutions for teaching tricky personalities:
1. The Chatterbox
You know that student who will NOT STOP talking? Yep - I’ve had her too.
Try This - Set a 2 minute timer at the beginning of your lesson. Your student gets to talk about whatever she wants during that time. BUT....once the timer goes off, it's time to focus on piano. (This trick has worked wonders with one of my Chatterbox!)
2. The Silent Student
Silent kids are often SHY kids. Some tend to be quiet all the time, while others are only shy around adults. Either way, silence can make teaching difficult. (Actually, this is something I'm experiencing with one of my students right now.)
Try This - First, avoid yes/no questions. I've found that silent students often resort to nodding or pointing, so you're better off asking specific questions.
Second, as odd as this sounds, I've had the best success when I ask my Silent Student a question and then look away. (I might start writing in their assignment book.) By looking away, it "forces" my student to answer me. Yes, it feels a little rude - and it's really hard to not look at them - but it often works.
3. The Stinky Student
Have you ever had a student come straight from football practice without showering? Oh my! This was once a HUGE problem with one student, but I found a solution. Best of all? It works EVERY time!
Try This - As you sit down to start the lesson, grab some yummy smelling lotion. As you rub it on your hands, dab it right under your nose. Now you'll be smelling your wonderful lotion instead of your student. (Did I mention this works EVERY time!)
4. The Indecisive Student
Perhaps these students are just trying to be polite or maybe they honestly don’t know what they want. Either way, it makes teaching a challenge.
Try This - Simplify the decision by giving an “either-or” choice. Nick Ambrosino addresses this in his book series. It really got me thinking about the way I interact with my students AND my son. Narrowing down choices for students can really help!
5. The Know-It-All
We’ve all had students who...well...argue with you. It’s no fun for teachers, but it happens.
Try This - Pick your battles. Not everything is worth fighting about, but some things are. You decide what's important - then get some backbone and stick to your guns!
6. The Whiner
You know those students who simply look at a piece of music and immediately launch into - That’s too hard! I can’t play that!
Try This - Have your student play only part of the song. Maybe even just a few measures. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel victory and focusing on smaller chunks of music will get kids there faster. (This can also work for #12 The Perfectionist.)
7. The Heartbroken
Maybe you have a teenage girl who just broke up with her boyfriend. Or perhaps her grandma died or her dog is sick. At some point, nearly every student arrives at their lesson feeling heartsick.
Try This - Give your student a piece of chocolate and ask her if she wants to talk about it. If she does, listen. If she doesn’t, move on. Perhaps it could be an easy favorites week? Or you could spend the lesson working on composition - let her spill her heart into creativity.
Heartache is tough, but it's part of life. Being compassionate is always the right choice.
8. The Disrespectful Student
Try This - First and foremost, continue to be upbeat and polite. Treat your student with kindness - regardless of the way they treat you. (I know it's not always easy.)
Second, don’t hesitate to make gentle corrections. It’s not polite to argue with an adult.
Finally, it’s completely appropriate to discuss their behavior with parents. After all - we teach much more than just piano!
9. The Silly Student
We've all had students who want to laugh and be goofy at their piano lesson. And of course, younger kids often fall into this category.
Try This - One of the best ways to help the Silly Student is to keep lessons fun by including games and movement. These students will also benefit from sticking to a routine during lessons. For example - It'll be easier for them to learn a new song, if they know a fun app is coming up next.
10. The Distracted Student
Teaching piano is hard enough, but if your student isn't paying attention, it's nearly impossible!
Try This - Play detective! Try to discover what distracts your student and make a serious effort to eliminate that. Sometimes it's obvious. For example, most kids enjoy my cats, but they can be a big distraction for other students. In those cases, I make sure my cats are in another room during lesson time.
Like the Silly Student, sticking to a routine also helps distracted students because they know exactly what to expect next.
11. The Sleepy Student
Kids are busier than ever these days! At some point, probably all of them will fall into this category.
Try This - Surprise your student by doing something out-of-the-ordinary and FUN! Play a game or have “duet day.” Maybe you could work on a composition or read a book. You could even simply watch YouTube videos with the goal of finding new music to learn.
One other idea - If you have a student who's alway tired, ask the parent to give them a quick snack on the way to piano lessons. It's usually a good pick-me-up.
12. The Perfectionist
No one likes to make mistakes, but some students take it more personally.
Try This - Stressed out students often need a simple distraction. One great way to change direction is using more apps. When I interviewed Judy Naillon for Technology Boot Camp, she said something I’ve never forgotten - “When you play a game and get the wrong answer - you just want to try again!” This is exactly the attitude our perfectionist students need to develop and we can help.
Or Try This - Have The Perfectionist play only part of the song. Maybe even just a few measures. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel victory and focusing on smaller chunks of music will get kids there faster.
More Posts from 12 Days of Inspiration
1 Powerful Way to Stay Focused and Productive at Colourful Keys
2 Things Every Music Teacher Should Do on Their Break at Mallory’s Music Studio
3 Ways to Reduce Stress at Music Educator Resources
4 New Year’s Resolutiopianosaurusrex.nz/reset-your-music-studio/ns at Violin Judy
5 Ways to Reset Your Music Studio After the Holidays at Pianosaurus Rex
6 Things That Should Happen at a First Piano Lesson at A Very Piano Blog.
7 Tax Deductions for Music Teachers at Sara's Music Studio
8 Questions to Bring Your Studio into the New Year at Fun Key Music
9 Ways to Increase You Studio Retention at Woods Piano Studio
10 Impressive Benefits of Learning Piano By Ear at Piano Picnic
11 Finds for the New Year at Piano Pantry
12 - You're reading it right now!
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Last year I started doing something different during lessons and it's been so successful that I wanted to share it with you.
I'm the type of teacher who likes to change things up and keep it fun for students. Using games and apps at the END of a lesson is one way I do that.
But then I got a idea - What would happen if I reversed that process and began using games at the START of the lesson.
Would it be a good warm-up for my students?
Or would they get "too silly" and lose their focus once they sat down at the piano?
As it turns out, starting with games as been a brilliant move and I wish I'd done it years ago!
1. Games are a great review.
When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. By starting with game-time, you're giving students the chance to review notes BEFORE diving into music. This is true for both physical games and apps.
Even something as simple as playing around with Iwako Erasers is a great way to review keyboard geography.
AND best of all - students are reviewing notes at a face pace, so you're really getting their brain warmed up for music!
2. Games are a great way to introduce new concepts.
Have a student who hasn't learned fractions yet? Rhythm Pizza to the rescue!
Need to introduce new note values to a student? Kitty Rhythms will help!
Of course, all students are different, but many will process concepts quicker if they see new notations BEFORE they're presented in their music book. Games are a perfect way to accomplish this.
3. Games are fun!
We both know that the best students are those who are excited about piano lessons.
If you start lessons with a game, kids will be thrilled to dash into your studio. Can't you just hear them thinking: I wonder what game we'll play today?
And of course, students that are engaged during lesson time and will definitely practice more at home. That's a win for everyone!
But What Will Parents Think?
I'll let you in on a little secret: For years, I felt guilty about starting the lesson with an app.
I felt like the music should come first and didn't want parents to be upset with me for "playing games" first instead of teaching music.
I've come to realize that if something works - you go with it!
The best part about this change is that I'm not the only one who sees students doing better--they see it too.
Then your entire studio benefits!
Do you start lessons with a game or save a few minutes at the end? I'd love to know what works for you!
Other posts you might enjoy...
10 Ways to Reset When You Don't Feel Like Teaching
4 Ways to Improve Your Studio When You Don't Know Where to Start
Easy Ways to Add Group Lessons
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Most of you know that I'm passionate about piano practice! It just breaks my heart when I see kids struggle, thinking they can't play the piano - when really - they just didn't put in the work!
So...how do we get kids to practice? Here's are a couple things that have given me the most success:
1. Get Parents On Board
Let's face it - most kids don't want to do "the right thing." Whether it's brushing their teeth, or making the bed, or helping with the lawn, none of that is "fun" and kids will opt out in a minute.
It's the same with piano lessons. And yes, some students are passionate about the piano, but many need to be held accountable.
That's why I wrote my book - 101 Piano Practice Tips, which is on sale right now for just .99! It's full of fun, practice tips to get students to the keyboard.
Best of all? I wrote it specifically for parents. It's laid out in an easy-to-read format, so parents can get ideas fast. AND they'll see why practice is important and why they need to make sure practice actually happens.
2. Use Practice Incentives
Everyone loves a reward! Incentive programs can work wonders for getting kids to practice and for us teachers - they don't have to be complicated.
Here are a couple of simple ones that I love:
3. Grab the Piano Bench Mag August 2016 issue.
It's the practice issue! For just 2.99, you'll get TONS of great ideas from several different teachers.
I even wrote an article that might surprise you. I ask the question - Is there ever a time to NOT require practice? My answer was yes. (Surprising, right?)
Go get the issue so you can find out when and why!
Other Helpful Resources
Grab Your Free Practice
This little PDF is all ready for you to hand out to parents.
These tips are straight from my book, 101 Piano Practice Tips.
Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.