The Practice Sessions Project: “Autumn Leaves”, Take One

There’s something to be said for aiming to get something right the first time. A product launch, a marriage proposal, an audition for a music ensemble… It’s easy to find examples, and it’s even easier to become fixated on perfection – especially in music.

Don’t get me wrong, though; it’s not that there’s anything inherently bad about aiming for a perfect performance. I just think we sometimes tend to lose sight of the process of getting to that pinnacle and, more importantly, what we can learn from it.

Why are you concerned about perfection as it applies to music education?

The pursuit of perfection – and what we music teachers can do to dissuade our students from doing so unhealthily – has been a recurring subject on this blog.

This is partly because I’m a private music teacher and most of my students aren’t aiming to seriously study music at the higher level or practice it as a career. I’ve learned to adapt my strategies away from workshopping performances and towards cultivating a lifelong enjoyment of music.

But honestly? It’s also partly because I’ve seen how my own quests for perfection have hampered my progress professionally and musically. And more importantly, I’ve seen how so many of my students are afraid to make mistakes during their lessons.

(Just here for the “Autumn Leaves” recording? Jump to it here.)

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Why I Relaunched Leading Notes

Four years ago, while I sat in my hotel room in the Union Theological Seminary in New York — things happen when you’re forced to break a lease due to bedbugs, okay? — and worked on an early childhood music education paper, I got an IM from fellow graduate student, Nick Jaworski*.

*I know, the title says ‘I’ even though there’s really a ‘we’ behind Leading Notes. I can only speak for myself here!

Our conversation moved quickly to a Google Doc, where we outlined our thoughts and vision for Leading Notes, a new music education site that would serve as a central hub for longform content and offer teachers an opportunity to share their visions, ideas, and successes.

We contacted teachers we knew and asked them to write about the state of music education, our fingers crossed the whole while that we could actually pull this off.

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Ask 5 Questions to Maximize Social Media ROI

How do you know if your social media engagement is translating to return on investment (ROI) for your business?

If you’ve been following along with this series, you should be feeling comfortable with developing your strategic goals, setting up event and goal tracking in Google Analytics, and using unique referring campaign URLs. Now let’s take a look at five ways to make sure we’re getting the most out of social media ROI.

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Rethinking Music Performance Anxiety

Music performance anxiety can creep up on us before an important performance or even a weekly music lesson. Most musicians have experienced music performance anxiety at some point during their careers.

How can teachers help students cope with performance anxiety? Should we focus on helping students to get rid of stress symptoms, or is there another way to look at the issue?

Put yourself in your student’s place and remember what it’s like to be anxious.

It can sometimes be all too easy to forget what it’s like to be a music student. As music teachers, we are privileged to share our experiences and knowledge. However, this can often make it hard for us to directly relate to our students.

Remembering what it’s like to be brand new to your instrument and the musical concepts that you take for granted can impact how you approach your students’ anxiety and concerns.

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5 Ways to Use FiftyThree’s Paper In Music Lessons

It’s been two years since I started using FiftyThree‘s Paper iPad app in private teaching and I am still going strong! Paper makes it easy for my students to visualize musical concepts and sketch and draw staffs, clefs, notes, rhythms, and more in their music lessons.

Here’s five different ways that I use it to compose, notate, and innovate with my guitar and bass guitar students.

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Google Drive and Private Music Lessons

I’ve gone paperless in my private music studio!

I use screen sharing with my online students and teach with my iPad for in-person students. And all of my students, no matter whether they’re online or in-person, work from digital chord charts and progressions.

Even though I’ve been using cloud-based storage and collaboration tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box for as long as I’ve been teaching private lessons, I only just made the switch from emailing resources to saving them in Google Drive folders a month ago.

Here’s a brief overview of why I chose Google Drive and how I use it with my private music students.

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Focus Keywords for Better Blogging + SEO

Blogging is a great way to share your experiences, stories, and helpful ideas with an audience. Better yet, blogging on a regular basis can help you control the content that’s related to you on the Internet — your digital footprint.

Individuals and businesses can both benefit from a well-written blog, so make sure that yours is the best it can be! Use focus keywords in your content development process to center your posts around specific topics and ensure that they are findable via search engines.

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Teaching Pop Music: Music Theory with the Rolling Stones

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of teaching pop music in private music lessons. Incorporating songs that your student knows (with some discretion, of course) can improve their interest, engagement, and excitement about lessons — especially if it’s one of their favorites!

Here’s an example of how I used pop music to teach one of my bass students about chord progression analysis, bass line creation, and musical cadences. We even worked on some ear training, too!
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Bringing Back The Music Education Blog Carnival

“Blog carnivals are a great way for bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts, organize blog posts around important topics, and improve the overall level of conversation in the blogosphere.” – BlogCarnival.com

I have fond memories of my time as an active participant in the online music education community while I was in graduate school. One of my favorite initiatives was the music education blog carnival, a monthly post that linked to several new music education blog posts across the web. Many different teachers took turns to host the monthly posts on their own sites and I looked forward to reading the compiled articles.

Due to other responsibilities, I took a long break from the online music education community but have spent the last two weeks getting back into it. While I’ve already learned so much from reconnecting with other music teachers on Facebook and Twitter, one thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s a little bit harder to find great new music education content in 2014 than it was in 2011.

So let’s bring back the monthly music education blog carnival!

How this will work

  1. Music education blog carnival editions will be posted on the first Tuesday of each month.
  2. Music educators will sign up with me to host an edition. I’ll work with them to assign a month that they can commit to and post the schedule on my website so we know where to look for the next edition.
  3. When it is your turn to host, spread the word by posting on your blog and social media accounts to let others know that they can submit articles to you. Make sure to set a submission deadline that you’re comfortable with so entries don’t come in too last-minute for you.
  4. Music educators will submit articles to that month’s blog carnival host. Articles should be published on the educator’s blog during the month prior to the blog carnival. For example, the June blog carnival will feature articles posted in May.
  5. The host will compile all of the articles and post the carnival on the scheduled date!

I will be hosting the first blog carnival on Tuesday, June 3.

Ready to get involved?

  • Sign up to host a future blog carnival by filling out my quick and easy sign-up form! I’ll get in touch to make sure we pick a month that works well for you.
  • Submit your articles for June’s blog carnival via my Twitter, Facebook, or by leaving a comment to this blog post!

I’m looking forward to seeing what we can put together!