I recently wrote about some new features coming soon to my site, and I'm very excited to announce that they've gone live!
Now my students are able to check their lessons, view their invoices, and make payments through their personal pages. They can also access an archive of their lesson notes for reference.
Looking ahead, I plan to make a subscription members-only area that will include exclusive content, such as worksheets, forums, and articles. I will make more announcements about this at a later date.
Is there anything you'd like to see in the members-only area? Leave your ideas in the comments!
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I thought I'd take a break from cooking to write about the things I'm thankful for.
I'm grateful I was given the chance to pursue my own path. A lot of parents want their child to go into a field that's stable, guaranteed, and likely to be easier than the path of the generation that came before them. There's nothing but good intent behind those wishes, but my parents were wise enough to recognize that I needed to see where the less stable, but wildly more fulfilling, path of music school would take me.
I'm grateful I live in a safe neighborhood. I managed to find an apartment in an area that doesn't make me fear for my life or for my bodily safety. Of course I take the same precautions as anyone else who lives in a city, but I don't live in a war zone and I'm fervently thankful for that.
I'm grateful for the things in my life that give me purpose. I have a thriving studio of flute students, a full-time job with benefits, coworkers who feel like family, this blog that keeps me writing and thinking, and two lovely little cats who think I'm the best.
I'm grateful for the food cooking in my oven right now. Even though sometimes money feels tight, I've never gone to bed hungry because I had nothing to eat. I'm able to provide for myself, and that's not something that everyone is able to do.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving if you observe it, and I encourage you think about all the things in your life that you're lucky to have. Happy holidays!
This is the time of year when a lot of parents ask me for help and information regarding how to choose a step-up flute for their child. I wrote a post back in February that I'd like to share again with you all. Please enjoy this how-to guide for selecting your next flute!
Read "Upgrading Your Flute" here.
I recently gained the ability to create memberships on my website for my students! What does this mean for my studio members?
Each student gets their own page that will list their calendar of events as well as their current student information, including lesson notes.
Each student's personal page will be visible only to them.
Student pages will be protected with SSL encryption and passwords to keep personal information safe and private.
Ease of payment.
Students will now have the option of paying for lessons via credit card, in addition to the cash and check options already available.
I'm very excited about the updates to my studio site, and I look forward to launching them within the month!
I like to load up my students with lots of material to work on. This isn't meant to overwhelm them or take up every speck of free time they have. Rather, it gives them options over the course of the week and prevents dead time during their lessons.
If I give them only enough material to take up exactly one half-hour or hour lesson, chances are high that they will get bored or burn out during the week. I'd rather give them the choice of where to focus their energy; facilitating the choice to turn their attention to one area or another of their musicianship is part of my job as their teacher.
We start small; I might give them a few more scales to practice than would be practical to hit all in one day. When that becomes comfortable, I move on to assigning more than one etude at a time, usually tailored toward whatever pieces the student is currently working on. When we get to this point, I make it a point to talk to my students about seeing their practice progress in terms of the week, not just in terms of what they accomplish in one day. This leads naturally into a discussion about how to plan out their practice time, as well as how to isolate areas in their pieces and etudes and practice those areas in a deep, meaningful, and inquisitive way.
Having lots of material to choose from also helps me give the best lesson experience I can; if a student only has one piece or etude to bring into a lesson, and they walk in and tell me they didn't practice it, that limits how much real progress we can make that week. But I've found that if my students have a slightly wider array of options, they usually find something that interests them enough to inspire focused practicing.
My ultimate goal is to prepare my students for college-level music programs, in which they would be expected to balance the expectations of their private teachers with those of their orchestra and band directors. Between recital prep, competitions, auditions, and large ensemble rehearsals, the stack of music on the to-do list can get pretty tall. I want my conservatory-bound students to be able to prioritize all these demands without feeling like they're drowning.
And in the end, it's gratifying for me to see a student take ownership of their own learning process; after all, my job is to make sure they eventually become their own teachers.
I see a lot of dramatic, expressive body movement in live flute performances, and I think it's great that the musicians are getting so into the music that it moves their whole body.
Interpretive body movements should never interfere with the actual sound of the piece. If your audience were to close their eyes, would they hear that crescendo, or would they just have to infer that it's there based on your floor-to-ceiling flute flourish?
What it comes down to is this; the audio version of the performance should fulfill everything the audience expects. It should hook them, keep them engaged, and execute the piece stylistically. Any body movement should be there only to keep you released and relaxed (for example, slightly bending and releasing the knees to prevent them from locking).
Engaging the audience and inviting them into your experience isn't so much about swooping around the stage. It's as simple as lowering your stand height so they can see your face, staying up and out of the stand, and looking out into the audience as much as possible. If you do these things, your recital attendees will feel like they're part of what's happening.
A lot of people ask me why I primarily teach, since I got my degrees in performance. It's a reasonable question to ask, so I thought I'd address it today.
I teach because I respect and appreciate the process of learning, especially the part when you're in the middle of mastering a new skill and you aren't sure you'll ever get it right. I've struggled enough with my own learning process over the years that I understand what my students are going through when they feel like something they're trying to learn will never be within their grasp.
More importantly, I teach because I found the world of orchestral performance both toxic and suffocating. In school and during professional auditions, the attitude of my peers was overwhelmingly one of paranoia and jealousy. There was no support and camaraderie; this makes sense to a certain extent, since the process of securing a seat in a professional orchestra is a zero-sum game. However, this caustic attitude was one that I had no desire to surround myself with.
So with that in mind, I work to make sure that the next generation of flutists, at least the ones who pass through my studio, are kind, supportive musicians. We talk about the equally valuable roles of first flute and second flute in ensembles, as well as what to do when you feel like your peers aren't as skilled as you (hint: help them get better rather than trying to keep them down). Cattiness is not tolerated. I treat each student as an individual; I don't pit them against each other and I make sure they know that the studio is a safe space.
So do I love to perform? Sure. I wouldn't have spent six years getting two degrees in performance if playing the flute did nothing for me. But the thought of helping to make the orchestral world a kinder scene means so much more.
Are you about to start teaching private lessons? Feel a little intimidated? You're definitely not alone. Taking on the challenge and responsibility of guiding a student's learning isn't something to take lightly. Here are some of the things I wish I had known starting out:
Plan out your lessons. Make sure you have more stuff planned than you have time to do in one session; you never know when a concept will click right away and only take a few minutes when you planned on it covering half the lesson.
Don't be afraid to try something new. If your student is struggling with something and an idea occurs to you that might help them, don't file it away and mull it over for the next time. Invite them to try it with you.
Write your name on everything. Students will be in and out of your studio, and will most likely make use of your tuner, metronome, or sheet music while they're there. These things are easily swept up in your students' things in the end-of-lesson pack-up, so make sure your stuff is labeled or be prepared to buy metronomes in bulk.
Alcohol wipes. So many alcohol wipes. You'll need to try your students' flutes, adjust their hand position, and touch the same doorknobs they touch. Sanitize everything, especially during cold and flu season; this includes flute keys and lip plates.
Ask for parent and emergency contact cell numbers. If a parent leaves their child in your studio, it's up to you to see them safely back to their parent at the end of the lesson. If no one shows up to claim that child, you need to have some phone numbers to work with. (NOTE: this incident has happened to me exactly zero times. Parents usually want their kid back.)
Have a good time. Make the studio a space that feels warm, welcoming, and fun. Put up some decorations! If you seem at ease, it will put your students at ease.
Have parents pre-pay by the month. Let them know ahead of time how many lessons they have scheduled and the total they owe, and have them pay at the first lesson of the month. This cuts way down on the number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Share your own helpful hints in the comments below!
We just got the first snowfall of the season here in Boston, and it got me thinking about cold and flu season, and about health in general.
It's not selfish to take care of yourself. Whether this means getting a flu shot, swapping an hour of practice time for an extra hour of sleep, or canceling a day of teaching to recover from an illness that's got you run down, it's responsible and admirable to make sure that you can function through the winter months.
Do you have any silver bullets for getting through cold and flu season in one piece? Share in the comments below!