Category Archives: Piano Lessons

Piano Teacher Resources: Susan Paradis

Do you ever come across something online and the next thing you know, an hour has gone by?

That happened to me last night. And it wasn’t Facebook! 🙂

I was looking for a handout to use for my kids explaining whole steps and half steps for their Five Finger Patterns, and I stumbled on this amazing website.

Susan Paradis has put together an extensive compilation of resources for the piano teacher. I was so excited!

Many of the resources are free to download, which is even more exciting!

Her resources include Worksheets, Teaching Aids, Games, Sheet Music for all seasons and holidays, and much more!

In addition to all these free items, she also has a store with even more stuff!

If you’re looking for easy church music for your piano students, she has several seasonal and hymn arrangements you can download.

I downloaded several worksheets that I plan to use for my kids, and I’ll definitely be going back!

Be sure to check it out. Who knows…you might even find something for yourself!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Saturday…Best Laid Plans…

Very rarely do I have a Saturday with nothing planned that I have to go to (meeting, get-togethers, church functions, etc.). But today was one of those days.

I still gave piano lessons in the morning, but after that was open and free.

My plans: go to the grocery store, clean the house and watch college football (Roll Tide, btw).

Sounds fun, right?

Let me explain…the last two weeks have been pretty hectic, with work and lessons and church music. So, needless to say, the house had been pretty neglected.

So I cleaned. all. day. long.

Seriously, I just finished an hour ago.

But, I have this awesome open floor plan where I can pretty much see or hear the TV from anywhere.

So I also watched/listened to college football. all. day. long.

And, yes, the grocery store run happened during halftime. I had motivation to be quick!

After all that, I just sat down to do some lesson paperwork, plus make sure I’m ready for church music tomorrow. Good thing, since I was contacted to play for someone in the morning service. Plans were quickly made to meet and practice in the morning.

All is well here. My feet hurt. My house is clean. My football team won.

How was your Saturday?

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Two months from today is Christmas

What!?! Really?!? Already!?!

Yep. It’s back. That time of year again when everybody goes crazy in the stores and we spend money on things that most people will never use more than once or twice.

I love Christmas, really, I do.

Why?

I love the lights, the decorations, the colors, the traditions.

But, mostly, I love the music.

It’s time, my friends. Time to break out the Christmas playlist, the Pandora channel, the sheet music.

And this year, I get to pick out Christmas songs for my piano students.

I’m so excited!!!

What about you? When do you start listening to Christmas music?

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Thanksgiving Music – We Gather Together

treble clefIt’s Thursday and Thanksgiving is five weeks away.

Does your church do a Thanksgiving service? We do a special service on Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week, complete with a chili supper afterwards. Yum.

Anyway, if you’re like me, you might be scrambling to find a piano arrangement to use at the last minute. Let me suggest this arrangement of “We Gather Together.”

No, I can’t take credit for this arrangement. But I can give all the credit to my sister, Christie.

Now, I did have the privilege of editing this arrangement, and I absolutely love it!

The arrangement is just advanced enough to keep you on your toes (and you will need to practice it at least once), but there is no reason why you couldn’t have it ready in 4-5 weeks.

Plus, Christie incorporates fresh chords and fun rhythms to make this traditional Thanksgiving hymn more interesting.

You can view sample pages, plus listen to sample audio of the arrangement. If you want to purchase the song, you will need to create an account at Glorious Assurance Music. Then you will have three attempts to download the song as a PDF.

Let me know what you think!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Payoff of Prepwork

Yesterday, I got home from work about 5:45pm and my first piano lesson was at 6:00pm. As I drove home, I knew I would be close on time, but I thought I would make it.

But I wasn’t panicked. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t nervous.

Why?

Because I was ready.

I had done all my prepwork/paperwork the night before. All the assignment sheets were printed, the lesson plans were printed, the room was cleaned/straightened up. I was ready.

This is my goal everytime, but we will see how that works.

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Monday Madness

On the Go PianistSometimes Mondays are calm…sometimes they are not.

Today has been a busy but very productive Monday. Tomorrow is Tuesday…lesson day. So tonight was lesson prep night.

After an hour of prep work, I have the lesson plans and assignment sheets printed and ready to go.

Hope you all had a happy Monday!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Patience and Persistence

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Pistol Pete

Last night was a great night of lessons. I got home from work, fed the dogs quickly, changed clothes, and got ready to greet my first student.

Oh, and I put the dogs outside. This is very important.

The students had all practiced very well, so all their songs were prepared and ready. It was an exciting night of lessons because the musical alphabet was introduced. Flashcards were also given out.

Remember, the dogs were outside. Our dogs are normally inside dogs, but they stay outside during lessons so as not to distract me or the students.

We have a lab puppy who is growing bigger every day. And he’s eating a ton of food. Seriously.

We usually give him a bowl of food in the morning, one bowl around dinner time, and another bowl before bed. He’s a very patient dog. But he loves his food. I’ve worked with him to sit by his crate to wait for his food.

So now in the evenings, he will start sitting outside/beside his crate. This is his signal to me that he’s ready for his third bowl of food.

He did this last night several times, but I just wasn’t ready to give him the food yet. When I did give him the food, he sat by his crate and waited for me to put it down. Then it was gone.

Cool. My job was done. Or not…

A little bit later, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on my iPad. Pistol Pete (our lab) went into his crate, grabbed his food bowl in his mouth, and brought me his bowl! I looked at my husband like “is this for real?” and he said to go ahead and give him another small bowl. I did, and again it was gone very quickly.

Then a little bit later, he brought me his bowl again. He’s catching on quickly…

Musical moral of the story: I hope all my piano students will be patient and follow the practice steps I give them. At the same time, I hope they will be persistent in their desire to learn more.

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Lesson Preparation: Assignment Sheets

When I decided to start teaching piano again, I wanted to have a strategy in place to help with lesson preparation. I didn’t want to just “wing it” (aka: turn the next page in the book and see what to assign for the next week).

I sat down and went through the books and made lesson plans for the entire semester.

Yay, score for me.

All right, confession time…I don’t like to hand write. I would rather type any day.

I used to write all the assignments in a spiral notebook, but that took up a lot of time during the lesson, plus…hand writing.

So I searched the internet looking for templates, found some that I liked, mashed the ideas together and came up with my own assignment sheet.

Student Assignment Sheet

Student Assignment Sheet

I used Microsoft Excel to create the form, but you could use Word if you wanted to.

Here are the important components on the assignment sheet:

1. Student information – name, level, date, week and lesson time

2. Easy-to-see blocks to enter daily practice time – I made these big enough to they wouldn’t be missed or forgotten

3. Assignment checklist – here I list all of the books, worksheets, warm-ups, etc. that they need to do each day. I also have the days of the week listed beside each item on the checklist. They are to circle the day that they do each assignment (helping them to remember that they did everything on the list).

4. Comments – I can put any reminders here, including practice steps, important dates, etc.

5. Teacher information – (not on the example); I put my phone number and email on each assignment sheet. I tell my students to call, text or email during the week if they have any questions. I would rather help them during the week instead of waiting till the next lesson to fix a problem or clear up confusion.

I have the assignment sheets already filled out before the lessons. This saves time and keeps me on track. (You can see a PDF of the Assignment Sheet here.)

You can see that the left margin is larger. This is because I three-hole punch the sheet and put it in a 3-ring binder for the student. They bring their binder to each lesson and get a new assignment sheet each week.

How do you give out assignments in lessons? Do you use a form or handout? I would love to hear your feedback.

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Keeping Piano Lessons Fun

I just finished giving piano lessons, so I’m still thinking back over how they went. (The students did great, by the way; it’s the teaching part I’m thinking about.)

I always want my students to love music and love playing the piano. I try to make the lessons fun, too. I know that scales and chords can’t be all that exciting by themselves, so I try to explain and give examples of how that element is used in music. (say church music, for example)

I’ve explained to students before how inversions play such an important role in hymnplaying. They look at me like I’m kidding. But then I play a hymn and show them what I mean. Then I say something like, “See? Chords and inversions are so cool! You can do so much with them!”

You can see their eyes light up, either with understanding or amusement at their teacher. But that’s ok. I don’t mind. When they get up to play a hymn in church and use an inversion, they will see how much fun it is.

Our excitement in lessons tonight was me killing a HUGE mosquito with my shoe (while jumping up and hitting the wall) and recording a song using my iPhone.

Yep, fun stuff! (You should try it sometime!)

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!