I'm a big fan of digital music. It's a great way to customize the lesson for students and I love the convenience of immediate access to songs.
My go-to sites for digital music are Piano Pronto, Supersonics Piano, and Sheet Music Plus.
But just a couple weeks ago, I discovered a new online source of music - PracticeHabits Membership Community.
The music is beautiful. The website is easy to use. And best of all? It's a great value!
For a small monthly fee, you get:
I know what you're thinking - Are there any downsides?
Honestly, not really. If I had to pick one con - it would be that you can't view the music before you download it. BUT - you can listen to the song AND you can easily download it - for free, with your monthly membership. So it's really no big deal that you can't see it first.
Want a sneak peek inside? Okay! Founder, Chris Owenby, gave me permission to show you around. Check out the video below!
(Bonus! Christ gave me a coupon to share with you. Use the code "Tracy" at checkout to get 20% off your membership!)
Don't forget to get your discount!
Just use "Tracy" at checkout to get your 20% off!
Are you a member of the practicehabits community?
I'd love to know what songs are your favorites! Let me know in the comments!
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
If you're looking for a simple way to add fun to your piano lessons, consider surprising your students with a story. It's a great way to engage kids and get a few giggles too!
Here are some of my favorites!
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
One day a bear cub finds a strange object in the forest. He bravely touches it and is suddenly startled by the odd sounds.
But.....he's also intrigued.
And so begins this wonderful story about a bear who discovers a piano and learns to master the instrument.
This book is about much more than the piano. It's a lovely story about friendship and is a must-have for your collection!
Mole Music by David McPhail
Mole lives a simple, quiet life until he hears someone playing a violin. From that moment on, Mole is never the same. He determines that he can learn to play music too!
Through daily patience and practice, he see success! Soon others are enchanted by his music in a way that Mole never realizes.
It's a great way to discuss the importance of practice and the impact that our music can have on others.
Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow
If you're looking for giggles from your piano students, this is the book for you!
It's a story is about a little boy who goes to a concert at the zoo. Before long, he falls asleep and dreams that the animals storm the stage - becoming the musicians! They end up playing all sorts of instruments in a concert for the humans.
It's a creative story and the illustrations are delightful! Just what you'd expect from John Lithgow! And of course this one is great too!
The Cardboard Piano by Lynne Ray Perkins
We've all had times when playing the piano made us feel.....different.
If you have students struggling with those feelings, grab this book and start talking about it!
This is a story about a girl named Debbie who takes piano lessons. She creates a cardboard piano for her friend, in the hope that her friend will love playing the piano too.
Unfortunately, things don't go the way Debbie planned and both girls learn a life lesson: just because you're friends with someone, doesn't mean you always have the same interests. And that's okay!
(This is a great book to get discussion going, but I recommend it for your older students, not preschool.)
Other posts you might enjoy....
What are YOUR favorite books? What would you add to my list?
I first started hearing about "Handy Houses: Memorize the Piano Keys in 5 Minutes" on FaceBook last year, but I hesitated to get it.
It seemed to me that the story would encourage students to "count up" to find certain keys on the piano - and I don't teach keyboard geography that way. I'm pretty adamant about teaching the white keys by looking at the black keys.
Nonetheless, last semester, I had a couple of preschoolers who were really struggling with keyboard geography and since I'm passionate about reading, I thought I'd give this book a shot.
Turns out that I like Handy Houses quite a bit.
How it Works:
Handy Houses is a cute story about 2 houses: a dog house and a people house. The story teaches students what goes on around each house.
Every "character" matches up to a key on the piano. Students learn about the car, then they meet Duke and Ellie. The story continues up to the B key.
The author, Samantha K. Perkins, even includes a keyboard where students can draw the story as a keepsake. You can copy the keyboard in the book or she gives you a link to a printable version.
I think this is really brilliant because it helps students recite the story in their own words, thus making it more memorable.
My Biggest Tip:
Once my students learn the story, we review the "characters" in a DIFFERENT ORDER from how the book teaches the story.
In the picture below, you can see what I'm doing with this student.
See how she's coloring the G and A keys before the F and B? We talk about who lives inside the house before we review what's outside the house.
I think that really helps to avoid "counting up" to find the correct key.
Whenever we review the story - which is weekly in the beginning - I'll quickly run through the story from start to finish to make sure my student remembers everything.
Then I ask questions based on the HOUSES:
Where's the dog house?
Who lives inside the dog house?
Where is the car?
Where is Ellie?
Where is the people house?
Who lives inside the people house?
What is outside the people house?
This completely solves my "fear" of learning the keys by counting up!
The Final Verdict:
Overall, I think Handy Houses delivers on the promise to teach kids the piano keys in about 5 minutes. I definitely plan to use it routinely with my youngest students.
If you haven't tried it, I definitely think it's worth testing out. You can get it on Amazon for 9.99.
101 Piano Practice Tips
How the book "The Dynamic Studio" changed me
Six Reasons To Play Games During Lessons
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)
You know those books that stay with you long after you finish the last page?
That's how I feel about The Dynamic Studio by Philip Johnston.
I chose this as the launch book for the book club because it's one I read years ago and absolutely loved. I knew it'd be the perfect selection to get everyone excited about fall lessons.
From the very first page, Philip challenged me, excited me, and helped me see all the possibilities that exist with my studio.
My Teaching Rut
When I first read this book, I was exhausted and truthfully, a little depressed. My son had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It was a rough time for our family - emotionally and financially. Of course, learning to care for Matthew became the top priority and teaching got pushed to the back-burner.
Before I knew it, I was in a massive teaching rut and I'm sure my students noticed. Oh sure - I tried to appear upbeat and excited, but in hindsight, my lessons were boring. I was simply going through the motions and putting very little effort into lessons.
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm sure my students suffered from my lack of enthusiasm.
Shortly after Matthew's diagnosis, I discovered The Dynamic Studio. The description pulled me in immediately. How to keep students? Dazzle parents? It sounded like fun and oh how I needed some fun.
This Book Has Changed Me
With every page that I read, I found this weight being lifted from my shoulders. Philip gave me hope. I realized that adding a few minor tweaks to my studio could have a tremendous impact on my students. I could bring back the fun for all of us.
Not only did my enthusiasm return, my studio doubled in size. I even wrote a book - 101 Piano Practice Tips. It was wonderful to feel like my "old self" and enjoy piano lessons again.
Some of My Favorite Quotes
"We cannot continue to teach the same way we were taught, because the students we're working with are not simply more contemporary versions of what we once were. They're just not."
"It's about switching the focus from curriculum and methods to being able to engage today's students compellingly enough to keep them."
"Establish a Theory And Pizza evening. Which of your students might be laughing for the first time in a theory lesson, instead of looking at their watch?"
"You have to actively create reasons to stay. The key is to make sure the reasons to stay is long, and regularly being added to."
What are those reasons? In The Dynamic Studio, Philip shares his ideas with you and helps you think outside the box so that you come up with your own reasons.
Such good stuff.
What's Your Story?
Faith is a big part of my life and by the grace of God, I got through those tough years. Our family adjusted to our "new normal" and my teaching life is back on track.
I say all this to encourage you. Life is tough and things don't always go the way we want, but you do have choices.
And it decides with hope. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that there are other alternatives. You really can do something different.
As Philip would say, ""Make a decision as CEO of your teaching studio - which is exactly what your are - and create change."
You can do it!
(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)
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.