A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 2 (Burger Pedagogy)

As the dancers were doing one of their repetitive tendu exercises one day, the instructor said “one of my teachers once told me that every time you repeat a movement, you put a penny in the bank – and in performance, you get to cash it in.”

Now, forget all the clever epithets you’ve heard . . . → Read More: A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 2 (Burger Pedagogy)

Juggling Balls

Responding to Wendy Stevens’ question “What is your favorite gadget or gizmo to use in teaching?” on Facebook today, my response included a Monster Puppet, a scarf, and juggling balls. There wasn’t quite enough room in the comments section, so I figured I’d elaborate here!

Monster Puppet – It’s just a puppet. I stick it . . . → Read More: Juggling Balls

Assignment Sheets

A recent discussion at PianoTeaching.com’s Piano Club focused on the different kinds of assignment sheets teachers use for their students. I thought I’d share mine and say a few words about the kinds of assignments I make.

You can find the sheet in pdf format on my Teaching Materials page. I made the sheet in . . . → Read More: Assignment Sheets

The Art of Teaching

I just got back from Iowa Music Teachers Association conference in Ames, IA. I got see a lot of neat things, chat with some really cool people, and eat too much. I also had a 2.5 hour drive, which means I had lots of time to think. This post is the result of the drive . . . → Read More: The Art of Teaching


Sorry about the hiatus, but the semester has ended, so let the writing resume!

I remember some years ago being told by my mother that when children ask “why,” it’s not a real question. When they ask “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”, it’s not because they desire information regarding the health benefits . . . → Read More: WHY?

DIY In-service Part 10, Dress Code

Let’s face it, we all wear the same thing week after week. Some teachers prefer to dress up, favoring a more “businesslike” appearance, while some teachers dress down, preferring to keep things casual. Whatever you’re doing, change it. If you like to keep things casual, put on a suit and get out the dress shoes. . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 10, Dress Code

DIY In-service Part 7, Give them the Pencil

This one is self-explanatory. Hand the pencil over to your students and make them do the writing. It sounds inconsequential, but it’s amazing what a difference it makes when the words on a student’s music and assignment sheet are written by them. It helps give students a sense of ownership over their studies. They magically . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 7, Give them the Pencil

DIY In-service Part 6, Practice the Easy Stuff

Let’s face it, we rarely have time to practice enough, and most of the music we give our students is well below our own performance level. But, even if you can play circles around Beethoven Op. 110, spend some time and really practice the F major sonatina you plan to teach that day. Make it . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 6, Practice the Easy Stuff

DIY In-service, Parts 3 and 4

Part 3 – Shut Up!

For a 10 minute stretch of a lesson, do not talk. Find a way to get your point across without words. Gesture, demonstrate, draw pictures (no words!), smile or even grimace, but don’t engage those vocal chords. If you’d like feel free to impose the restriction on your student as . . . → Read More: DIY In-service, Parts 3 and 4

DIY In-service Part 2, Upgrade your Students!

Citing a 1987 study by Hermine Marshall, Jere Brophy writes that “to the extent you that you treat students as if they already are eager learners, they will be more likely to become eager learners. Let them know that they are expected to be curious, to want to learn with understanding, and to want to . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 2, Upgrade your Students!