How Home Studios are Helping Students

This article originally appeared on The Music Teacher’s Helper’s Blog, where Jennifer has been a contributing author for the past year and a half. This is her final article, as she is expecting a baby this summer.

To start this off, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed being an author on this blog for the past year and a half and the wonderful people I have met, as well as the beneficial information I have learned as well. This will be my last article on Music Teacher’s Helper, as I’m getting ready to have my 2nd baby here quite soon, and am starting my hiatus.  

As I’ve been contemplating what topic to cover for this last article, it occurred to me while teaching, that it might be beneficial to talk about how I’ve integrated my home studio into my music lessons, and how it has affected my students for the better.

As well as being a music teacher, I’m also a composer/recording artist and so I have a studio in my home.  Many parents and students have asked me “Why do you need two keyboards?” or “How do you record all of that right here?”, as well as many other curious questions pertaining to what goes into recording music from a home studio.

To answer some of these questions, let me start off saying that my studio is all digital.  This means that I do not record any live audio with microphones at my home studio.  That requires an entirely different set-up and I usually go to a hired studio in order to record such music.  A “digital studio” is done through the use of MIDI (Musicial Instrument Digital Interface) as well as some audio cables (which I don’t use but some people do).

Some of the pieces of equipment that I have in my home studio is a 6 foot Kawai grand piano, violin, guitar, a Kawai CN270 digital keyboard (which has a very real action touch and I record piano recordings from this keyboard), a Kurzweil PC88 keyboard (a fancier keyboard with many ‘bells and whistles’ including a modulation wheel, which is essential when recording virtual instruments), 8″ Yamaha Studio Monitors, a Dell computer (with an extra amount of RAM and hard drive space, which is essential for music software), extra hard drives, and probably the most important thing is a valuable array of music software and virtual instruments (soft synths)  that I’ve collected over the years.

One thing that I do with all of my music students is record them.  Any time they perfect a song, we move from the piano over to one of the keyboards and record. 

This has been very beneficial for them in many different ways:

– For one thing, it allows them to have a collection of songs on a CD that they recorded themselves. 

– It also allows them to go back and listen to how their skills have improved from their first recording to their most recent. 

– Recording also helps them to overcome the fear of performing because as they continue to record more and more songs, they diminish nerves. Being recorded  without an audience helps them learn to tap into their inner expression and just play from the heart., and eventually translates over to live performances as well (for recitals, etc.).

– I also have my students record their recital songs before an upcoming recital and do “Self Critiques”. This is where they listen to themselves and write down things they need to work on. It’s been amazing for them to be able to hear what they sound like outside of their own head, and has pushed them to work very hard.

Over the years of allowing my students access to my home studio, I have been able to assist students in entering composition contests, making their own albums, and the best part has probably just been being able to open their eyes to whole new world of music that they may have otherwise not been been exposed to.  I have several students now interested in building their own home music studios so that they can continue the journey of writing/recording their own music.  They now know that learning to play the piano isn’t just learning songs out of a method book, but that they can be part of the imagination and creative process of music.  They can arrange songs, add different instrumentations to the recordings, and learn how to edit as well.

I have one student in particular who recently won a state-level division of a “Reflections” competition for middle schoolers, where she composed her own song, recorded it and submitted it along with the sheet music as well.  While she did all of the work on her own in the composition process, I was able to help her record and notate the sheet music from my studio.  The experience only sparked an interest in her, and her parents have now been helping her to set up a basic studio in her room. 

If you think your child or student would be interested in setting up a home digital studio as well, I can suggested a few pieces of key equipment:

A Digital Keyboard/Piano.  This is essential, and you will want to be sure you get one that has both audio and midi outlets/inlets.  This way you can connect the keyboard directly to a computer.  You don’t need an expensive keyboard, but I would suggest making sure you find one that has all 88 keys.(as they come in various forms with lesser amounts of keys). 88 keys is especially essential if your child/student is a pianist.  You can find decent keyboards for under $500, such as this portable digital keyboard. For something more piano-esque and slightly more expensive, I would suggest this digital piano.  The difference between a digital keyboard and a digital piano is that the keyboards tend to have more sounds and synthesizers, and usually are portable. You need to buy a stand to put it on, as well as a bench.  Digital pianos usually come on their own stand (screwed together, so not easily portable) and do not have all the fancy buttons and gadgets.  As you noted earlier, I have both in my studio and they both serve two different purposes. I have found that the digital pianos are better for pianists because the keys are usually weighted, wood, and play/feel much more like a real piano.  A digital keyboard will feel lighter, more plastic-like but with the benefit of being able to record a wide variety of sounds and instruments.

–  A Computer.  This can be a laptop or desktop, whichever you prefer.   Since I am not a travelling performer, I have a desktop that stays in my studio. However, some musicians prefer laptops so that they can be more mobile.  You will want to be sure you have a decent sound card as well, and depending on how much software you plan to invest in, you will want extra RAM and hard drive space.

Software.  Let me first say that you do need software to record.  At least on a very amateur basis.  In fact, the  2nd keyboard that I suggested above has the ability to record mulit-tracks within its own built-in computer.  So for beginners, that is a great place to start.  That keyboard also comes with some basic software that you can put on your computer in order to transfer your recordings from the keyboard’s internal computer to your own computer.  However, neither the keyboard or the software it comes with allows you the ability to edit your recordings and has limited midi use. 

When I first started out, I used a free software called Audacity.  You can download it here. It is very basic, but very helpful.  You can record audio with this program (run an audio cord from your keyboard to your computer and it will record whatever synth or piano sound your keyboard is outputting).  You can also splice, change volume levels, eq’s, add special effects, add fade-in’s/out’s, etc.  But again, Audacity does not work with MIDI.  If you are wanting to get into using virtual instruments (soft synths) then you would need to go to the next step up and purchase a DAWS program (Digital Audio Work Station), such as Cakewalk, Sonar, ProTools, Cubase, etc and that is the pricepoint where a studio starts to get more expensive and more on the professional level.  There are many programs out there, and most even offer a LE version to get you started.  (I personally use Sonar Producer 8).

I don’t want to get into too many details regarding the benefits and differences of recording with MIDI, but to explain what exactly midi does – it basically is a way to record music that has the flexability of changing what you recorded into any instrument that you wish.  For example, you can record a piano part and change it into sounding like a harp.  Midi obviously requires that you have the necessary software programs to translate your tracks into these other sounds, which again, gets into a whole other arena of music studio software that I’m not going to go into for this article as I’m trying to keep this information basic.

Another piece of software that might be beneficial, is a notation program.  Some DAWS have the ability to print out notation from MIDI, but not without much editing. Those types of programs were not designed to be notation programs and so that aspect of them are very limited.  I would suggest referring to a previous article I wrote regarding notation programs for further help on this topic, as I suggested a few different freewares available as well as professional grade programs.

With the continued advancement in technology, more and more younger students are getting interested in music and technology.  It is both motivating and exciting for them to be able to create music using the advancements available today for home studios.  What I have covered here is very basic, so if you have any more detailed questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me directly at (jennifer@jenniferthomasmusic.com) and I’d be happy to help. Thanks again for a wonderful experience here on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog as an author, and I wish you all happy music making!

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Sheet Music Transcription: A Source of Additional Income for Music Teachers

Jennifer appears monthly as an author on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog.  This article was published on October 16, 2009 at this original link:  http://www.musicteachershelper.com/blog/sheet-music-transcribing-a-source-of-additional-income-for-music-teachers/#more-823 

sheet-musicI have the pleasure of dipping my feet into two different worlds of music on a daily basis: The world of teaching, and the world of performing & recording.

It is within the latter, the world of performing and recording, where I have the opportunity to meet many other artists in the entertainment business who do the same thing as I: Compose music, record it, distribute it, and perform it.

You might be very surprised to hear though, how great the percentage is of performing artists out there who a) have never had any formal music training, and b) do not read music.

This is where you come in as an educated music teacher.

The selling of original sheet music is a nice source of income for recording artists – both independent and record label alike. Though, for non-music-reading independent musicians who do not have someone to automatically transcribe for them (as most record label artists have), they end up hiring a transcriptionist to produce their sheet music.

I personally know many artists who pay anywhere between $50 – $200 to transcribe a song, or between $25 – $50 for someone to proofread transcriptions (meaning they do their best to transcribe it on their own, and then pay a professional to look it over for mistakes).

With the economic downturn this past year in the United States, there are many people who are either searching for jobs, or are simply looking for additional ways to make supplemental income. For you music teachers who have knowledge and experience in notation, offering transcription services is one way that you can earn supplemental income. In fact, many transcriptionists are actually music teachers.

Why?

Because we as music teachers are great at reading music, are keenly aware of mistakes when we hear or see one (in music), and need I mention that we also know our theory.

How Can You Get Started in Sheet Music Transcription?

• Having knowledge and skill in notation is key here. But also having the ability to hear a song and write it down is also very essential. In other words, to learn music by ear. Most artists who hire out a transcriptionist only have their recordings to offer as a means of getting the music down onto paper. So you would need to feel comfortable listening to someone’s song and figuring it out from there. Some however, are able to provide you with a midi file that you can pull directly up into a notation software program and edit from there. Which brings me to my next point…

• You will need a reliable notation software program. Two of the most commonly used programs are Finale, and Sibelius. For the full versions, these run between $530 to $600, but you can purchase scaled down versions for less.

Finale

Finale offers a freeware program called Notepad, which operates much like the full-fledged version with the exception of certain key tasks that a more advanced user would require, such as the ability to change key signature mid-song, or time signature, for example.

Sibelius has a freeware program called Scorch, which I wouldn’t even consider a notation program at all – as it merely only has the capability of displaying music, playing music (through a midi file), and transposing music to a different key .

Aside from these two mainstream notation software programs, you can Google “Free Notation Software” and find an array of various freewares that could work for you, or at least to practice on.

• Finally, you will need to get the word out that you are available. This is a day and age of social networking – use it to your advantage. Use Facebook, Twitter, etc. Create a blog or website. Perhaps offering a special discount or even offering your services for free initially, to attract customers and to build your clientele. Broaden your network by seeking out independent artists and “friending” them.

There are so many possibilities with this and it really is a skill that is in need. Not only does it benefit you for financial reasons (and to keep your skills brushed up), but it also greatly benefits the artist who needs your services.

It is yet another way for an educated musican to make use of their valuable skills.

Jennifer appears monthly as a contributing author for The Music Teacher’s Helper website and blog.

Welcome to my NEW blog site

Jennifer ThomasI’d been mulling over getting a new little sweet place for my music blog – since for the past 2 years I have been utilizing MySpace for my music blog and I have never really liked having it there.  It wasn’t easily accessible to everyone, it was clutterly, and a bit obtrusive (MySpace, that is).

So I finally did it and organized myself in another corner of the Blogosphere.  I feel like my blog got a makeover and went from trailer trash to ultra classy, THANK YOU Wordpress. 

I’m still getting organized, and will soon transport old posts from MySpace on over here and add some fantastic new ones as well.  So stay tuned…more to come soon.

             – Jennifer

Teaching Your Piano Students How to Accompany

Jennifer participates as an author on the Music Teacher Helper’s Blog, and posts an article once a month.  This article was posted on May 1, 2009.

erika-april-2007Most piano students take lessons with the intention of being solo performers, without realizing that at some point in their years as a pianist, they will undoubtedly be asked to take on the roll as an accompanist. The piano is the most commonly used instrument to accompany both vocalists and instrumentalists, and all great accompanists you see today, at some point in their training, had to learn the art of accompanying.

You notice I used the word “art” when referring to accompanying skills. Just because you can play the piano well, does not mean that you can accompany well. It truly is an art form that takes much hands-on experience to learn and perfect. I love what the great American accompanist Irwin Cage said, “There are many great accompanists who are very good pianists, but there are not many pianists who are good accompanists.”

We as teachers can provide our students with opportunities to learn and practice this skill while in their early years during lessons.

I will list a few suggestions of ways that you can help your students learn to accompany:

  • Include simple vocal music as part of their practicum. These can be hymns, patriotic songs, Christmas tunes, or popular music from the radio (as most of my teenage students prefer). Even if you don’t have the best voice, you can sing along as they play the accompaniment part to train them how to keep up with a vocalist. Be sure that they know how to find and play an introduction, and know how to skip ahead to catch up with you if they make a mistake.
  • Invite students to accompany other students for recitals. This is a great way for young pianists to get a hands-on experience accompanying in a public setting. If your studio is piano-only, they can accomplish this task by either playing duets with another student (or you), or if they are advanced enough they can play orchestral reductions for large scale pieces such as concertos. For multi-instrumental studios, young pianists have a great chance to play for stringed instruments, brass, or woodwinds. You can also coordinate with other instrumental or vocal teachers in your area to have your students accompany at their recitals.
  • Encourage your students to volunteer to play at church or school. There is always a need for accompanists in these settings, whether it is for choir practice, or running through music for the school play. Typically a pianist need not to be an advanced level either, but just have the ability to play parts and fill-in where needed. This is a great opportunity for young accompanists to learn to play parts and follow an ensemble.
  • Have your students be included on a call list for festivals. For your more advanced piano students who perhaps enjoy the limelight a little more and dread the thought of accompanying, this is a perfect opportunity for them. Most high school aged students do festival competitions each year and are always looking for accompanists. In this situation, the accompanist is as much an equal partner in the performance as the soloist. This somewhat-high stress performance situation can refine the skills of any advanced player wanting to fine tune their ability to perform in an ensemble. Not to mention, accompanists are usually compensated generously for their time in these types of opportunities.

Perhaps the most difficult part of teaching your piano students to accompany, is helping them to realize that they are not the “star of the show” in these performances, but are no less important. The accompanist is a vital part of the performance. They can make a performance a huge success, or completely throw it off.

Lastly, I present to you my list of ten great attributes to obtain as an accompanist. My “10 Be-Attitudes of Accompanying”:

1. Be a great Sight reader.

2. Be able to play without always watching your hands

3. Be able to play while watching a conductor, or soloist.

4. Be an active listener, and watcher.

5. Be able to match the soloists style and phrasing.

6. Be a team player, instead of the “star”.

7. Be able to ad-lib if necessary.

8. Be able to voice properly (If the soloist is in a high range, bring out the lower range of the piano more).

9. Be able to skip ahead or vamp if a soloist gets nervous and jumps a few measures.

10. Be the best pianist you know how to be.

May you be able to turn your fine little pianists into fine little accompanists as well, and have fun in the journey.

Organization Help for the Unorganized Teacher

Jennifer participates as an author on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog site.  She writes articles once per month.  This article appeared on March 18th, 2009.

In a perfect world, teachers are as organized as they are knowledgeable. They recall information on a whim, and memorize every appointment. Their work spaces are immaculate, their shoes impeccably shined, and composure is written all over their face even under the most stressful of days.

But here in the real world, we teachers are usually not as organizationally refined. I’m even willing to go out on a limb and say that music teachers, at least the honest ones, are naturally faulted in this and predisposed to a free-spirited chaotic side.

Let’s face it: We’re artists. We’re creative, we’re passionate, and detail management is not exactly our forte. I will be the first to admit that I am the epitome of disorganization.

Allow me paint you a mental picture of my teaching studio, as it was 4 months ago…

A half dozen pink colored sticky notes stuck to the side of my grand piano reminding me of this week’s “To Do’s”. Random piles of sheet music, binders, and manuscript books. A stack of checks from parents sitting under a pencil-filled coffee mug to deposit for this month’s lessons (and only mental notes to remind me later on which students have and have not paid yet).

And that’s not all. The biggest, baddest sin of all is my forgetfulness to write down changes in lesson scheduling on my monthly calendar. “Why is Suzy here for her lesson today? Her lesson isn’t until Thursday. Oh, that’s right…”. I’m somehow still convinced that as an early-30’ish year old adult, my brain can still successfully function as a mental day planner.

Well, perhaps this worked in my teens and twenties, but now days? Nu uh. Nope. Not a chance.

I know, I get it. I’m a piano teacher, a violin teacher, a recording artist, a performer, not to mention a wife, a mother, a cook, an active blogger, a wanna-be fashion designer, and home-beautifier.

So I have a few things on my plate. But it’s a good excuse for my lack of studio “housekeeping”, right?

Wrong.

A few months ago, I finally decided that enough was enough and that I needed some help. I was on a mission!

I hopped my savvy little computer fingers onto on my favorite search engine and started doing some hunting for a better way to track my schedule, the student practice logs, and for some fun music games to play at my upcoming pre-recital party for the students.

I came across many-a-useless sites that offered help for teachers, yet didn’t really seem to have that ingeniously unique something I was looking for. I just couldn’t imagine that someone out there hadn’t created what I needed after all this time. Other teachers have had to of had these same thoughts…right?

And then it happened: I found what I was looking for. It was as if the clouds parted and golden rays of sunlight beamed down onto my computer screen as angels sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. My eyes danced and my heart leaped in giddy delight.

A program that not only did the things I was looking to accomplish, but much more.

It tracked my teaching income and expenditures, tracked music that I loan to students, allowed me to enter lesson notes, send emails to parents and students (automated if I wished), enter student’s repertoire, schedule lessons, keep a calendar (that both students and parents could view as well), send invoices and receive payments online, and (drum roll please)…I even got my own website that I could tailor for my own studio.

Enter Music Teacher’s Helper.

I have been using this program for 4 months now and am thoroughly tickled with delight to find myself so incredibly organized. And I am having fun doing it!

Imagine, if you will, a new and different picture of my studio these days…

A clean piano. No sticky notes. All appointments and reminders have been entered onto my website calendar, and I even receive email reminders daily of upcoming events (as are the parents).

After each lesson, I log into my Music Teachers Helper and type up my lesson notes and thoughts on how the student did. I can send these notes to the parents if I wish (which I always do) so that they can be aware and involved in their child’s lesson.

When I receive a check, I immediately enter a payment into my transaction log and generate a “thank you” email to the parent. They also have a unique log in and password so that they can view their transaction history as well.

I never miss a student’s birthday anymore because they’ve all been entered into the birthday tracker.

Loaned a book out? No problem. I’ve entered it into my lending library with a due date. Email reminders will be sent to the student about returning the material.

I no longer have to probe Suzy for her practice report because she logs in and enters it into her personal practice log where I can then view it.

Needing ideas for recital games, studio advice, or how to be a better teacher? I get a wealth of information from the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog (which is where I found the idea to make piano-shaped cookies and decorate them for our Christmas piano recital party).

And this is only skimming the surface of what this program can do.

At the end of the day though, I do have to say that in some small way I feel like I’m cheating. I get so many compliments from parents about my organizational skills! If they only knew, right?

I guess you could say after all that there is such a thing as a perfect world with perfectly organized and composed teachers. Or at least now I’ve cracked the code on how they do it. I’m still working on the impeccably shined shoes though.

Now if I could just figure out where to find a program that will cook for me, babysit, clean my house…

Googling Myself

Do you ever Google yourself and see what comes up? 

Will just introduced me to “Google Alerts” where you can have links emailed to you where your name is discussed.  For an artist, it’s just a great way to read what is being said about your music.

Well today was the first time I used Google Alert.  Holy cow, I didn’t realize how nervous I would be to click on some of these links.  I mean I realize as an artist I have had to develop a thick skin and take both good and bad comments about my music, but this Google Alert thing makes me feel like I am spying on people’s secret conversations about me or something. Who knows what I will read!

Today’s entertainment was stumbling across a blog where a gentleman said he had stumbled across my website and though he wasn’t a fan of every song he loved “A Beautiful Storm” and encouraged others to check out my site.  And then underneath I saw the list of comments.

So I took a deep breath and decided to check out the comments too.

It was all very positive, one person even said I was drop dead gorgeous (thank you anonymous commenter!).  But the thing that really made me laugh was how some of this guy’s commenters said they hated classical music…that it made them sick, or hurt their ears.  Another commented that “…though I don’t enjoy Classical music, I really like John Tesh.” 

Okay, John Tesh and Classical do not even belong in the same sentence.

And then I was like, “Since when has my music been Classical??”

Sorry to tease the undereducated music listeners out there, but just because music has accoustical piano in it does not mean it is “Classical”.  I mean I could get really technical and point out that people generalize the term “Classical” so much that they don’t even realize that true Classical music is music written between the years 1750 – 1820.  Beethoven?  Nope not a Classical composer.  He was a Classical Crossover as most of his music was written in the Romantic era.

I really hope that people are not not giving my music a chance because they fear it is “Classical”.  LOL Is it because on my website I classify my music as “New Age Classical”? 

I think when I redo my website in 2009 I’m gunna have to come up with a better description of my genre/style.  Any ideas?

Anyway.  That is beside the point.  I don’t even have a point.  Just Google yourself.  What have YOU learned about yourself on the web? LOL

The Chameleon Teacher: The Art of Adapting to Individual Learning Styles Part 1

Jennifer participates as an author on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog site.  She writes an article once per month.  This article appeared on Dec. 3rd, 2008.

Have you ever noticed that you seem to be able to teach some students better than others?  While some students seem to instantly grasp your every instruction and leave your studio walking away on a cloud of enthusiasm, there are others for whom getting them to respond as well is much like trying to drink the last few marshmallows in your cup of hot cocoa:  You can’t reach them and the more you tip your cup up, the further away they move.

Perhaps for these seemingly impossible students, all they require is a teacher who understands their learning style, adapts to it, and communicates through it.  In other words, a teacher who is able to chameleonize.

How do you identify a student’s learning style?

I personally love the animal personality typing that Keith Golay presented In the Autumn 1990 edition of Keyboard Companion.  He identifies four main types of students/teacher learning styles:  The Ape, The Bear, The Dolphin, and The Owl.  I will summarize both the teacher and student personalities, and include the suggested teaching stradegy for each learning type.

ape

The Ape

Teacher Characteristics: The Ape teacher is almost always enjoyable.  Will put on a great show and do a great deal of demonstration and hands-on activity.  Tends to de-emphasize mechanics, theory, and personal relationships, and focus instead on being spontaneous, and on “expressing” the music.  Want students to develop a grace, or a flair for playing.  They are the best at getting students to improvise.

Student Characteristics: Our little Apes are definitely hazards as students.  They don’t want to sit still, don’t want to practice scales, don’t want to pay attention.  All they want to do is play the piano, and they want you to show them playing which is stimulating and exciting.  Chances are that you won’t get many apes, but if you can handle them, you may find the opportunity to unleash extraordinary musical potential.

Teaching Stradegies:  Make playing the piano fun!  You must adapt to this student’s need to be great and to have fun here and now.  Model and demonstrate, then he or she will mimic.  Once the action is taken and found enjoyable the thirst for more information in order to pursue the fun will follow.  You may not have the kind of program that’s compatible with this student – find out early and don’t waste everybody’s time.

bear

The Bear

Teacher Characteristics:  Tend to be traditionalists in music education.  Stick to the basics.  Get the mechanics down!  Their first objective is to make sure that every student they teach is a good citizen – that students sit quietly, follow the rules, pay attention, and practice diligently at home.  Strong believer in skill and drill.  Most likely, there will be a strong emphasis on memorization and on playing scales.  Spend the lesson sitting next to the student on the piano bench seeing to it that the student doesn’t skip a beat.  Teaching improvisation will be difficult for this teacher due to a strong reliance on structure and mechanics.

Student Characteristics: Bear students want to be prepared for their lessons, want to do as they are told, like to pay attention, like to do their scales, and are good at memorizing.  But if they have no real interest in learning music, they may be quite difficult to motivate.

Teaching Stradegies: The standard “skill and drill” approach will be very successful, but don’t overload.  Perceived failure will demonstrate in a big hurry.  Problems will also come when you are ready to have this student interpret or improvise.  Appreciate that such a student will find these activities stressful and show the way carefully.

dolphin

The Dolphin

Teacher Characteristics: Live in another world.  They tend to be the progressives.  They want new ideas, new techniques.  And they want students to be creative and spontaneous.  They have a primary objective, too – to make sure that their students become better human beings and learn to enjoy expressing themselves through music.  This teacher strives for a personal relationship with each student, and seeks to develop the potential that resides deep within the student.  The emphasis will be more on the student gaining an understanding of music than on the mechanics.

Student Characteristics: Dolphins are well-motivated, high-acheivers too, but only to the degree that they have a good personal relationship with the teacher.  Also, rather than just a brilliant technical display, or exciting performance, they want to use the music as a form of self-expression to communicate their inner feelings to the world with music.

Teaching Stradegies: Recognition is very important.  These students love to perform if they get strokes for the effort, if they know that the teacher thinks they are something special.  But drilling bores them.  Show this Johnnie how to create his own music and he will soar.

owl

The Owl

Teacher Characteristics: The Owl teacher is more cool in his/her approach.  The focus will be on how to analyze and interpret a piece of music, and on how to accurately express the intention of the composer.  The personal relationship with the student will be de-emphasized and replaced with the importance of gaining insight.

Student Characteristics: Owl students want to do more than just memorize.  They want to learn the theory behind what they are doing, and they want to perfect their skills to the highest degree possible.  They have an interest in gaining insight into the structure and function of a piece.  They will enjoy learning about the different compositional styles and impact these styles had on the development of music in culture.

Teaching Stradegies: The teaching should be theory-oriented, with the emphasis on musical structure and on music’s beautiful precision.  Great technical skill can be fostered in the exploration of its precise structure.  Be organized and be sure the student understands where he’s headed and why.

Understanding and exploring both yours and your students’ learning styles will help everyone get more out of lesson time and further progress.  Not to mention you will find yourself being able to tackle those “hard to teach” students with more confidence.

In Part II of this topic, I will go into other types of individual learning characteristics such as a student’s modality preference (Is he/she a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner?).