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May 2018






How to Succeed as a New Teacher

Developing Relationships with Colleagues

In The Arts with Laura: Teaching vs Performing

Teaching Students to Perform


aural skills, technical skills, clear tone,

introduce yourself and create a sense of

musicality, and many other concepts.

openness between you and the parent

Studying music education theorists

in which you can discuss troubles the

and methods like Gordon, Kodály, Orff-

student may have either in playing or

Schulwerk, Suzuki, Dalcroze, Piaget,

personal life.

or Bruner can also help to develop an informed, research-based curriculum.

In a world of so much technology, there are tons of options open to enhance

Another important note for your

teaching and communication with your

curriculum is developing a valid and

students. I personally love using the

reliable aptitude test for new students.

Tonara music lesson app.

My name is Rachel Kline and I’ve been

An aptitude test allows you to assess

teaching violin lessons for five years. I

how much the student already knows

started my position at Music & Arts in

and what he or she needs to work on. It

Hilliard, Ohio in May of 2017, and it’s

also determines what stage your new

one of the best things that has happened

student falls into with your curriculum.

to me as both a teacher and musician.

I try to keep aptitude testing pretty

In my reflection of the past year, I have

casual and I share the purpose of

It has many interesting features

thought about what sets my teaching

it with the student before starting.

including a chat system, practice

now apart from when I started, and what

In the assessment, I ask students

logging, and play-along songs and

I wish I had known from the beginning

about different types of articulations,

scales. My favorite feature, however, is

to help me succeed. From this reflection,

dynamics, instrument parts, and have

the easy way to send recordings, which I

I’ve developed three elements that make

them demonstrate good posture, tone,

use all the time with my students. I’m a

a music teacher successful, and I hope

and have them play several passages.

firm believer that students develop good tone from hearing good tone. Any other

they can help you to develop a thriving studio that you love.

Communication with Students

messaging system should work, but I do

and Parents

prefer ones that don’t require younger

Developing Your Curriculum

Strong communication with anybody

students to give me their direct contact

Although it is important to be able to

involved in lessons is extremely


analyze a student’s playing and give

important for building trust and

feedback, a strong, comprehensive

relationships. It may seem obvious,

Building Your Teaching Personality

curriculum can provide so much more.

but students are more likely to stay

Just like all students are different, all

A spiral curriculum, or curriculum

in your studio and work harder if you

teachers are different and have qualities

that builds upon itself over time, often

go out of your way to show concern

that make their lessons unique. A great

revisiting past concepts, is the best way

for them, their interests, and their

way to establish yourself as a teacher

to build a strong foundation in music,

schedules. Communication outside of

is to find your teaching philosophy

just like in any other subject. After all,

the studio is also essential to becoming

and live by it wholeheartedly. Your

you can’t learn to read a language if you

a successful teacher. Finding a clear line

philosophy should be something that

only talked about the alphabet in class

of communication between the teacher

you’re passionate about and strive to

for 30 minutes. Your spiral curriculum

and parent should be established on the

fulfill in every lesson. It could be focused

may include scales, note reading,

first day of lessons. It’s a great way to

on a certain attribute, like reaching

2 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | May 2018

students through compassion, or could

completely change the atmosphere

opportunity to teach at Music & Arts.

be focused more heavily on music, like

of your teaching. I like to bring in

It’s helped me to find who I am as a

molding the next generation of students

motivational posters, whiteboards

teacher, and I love working with all of

into musically sensitive players. No

with messages, brightly colored post-it

my students. I look forward to using

matter what message you want to bring

notes, and other little things to create a

all of my new skills and experiences as

to the world, bring it fiercely, honestly,

visually stimulating environment that

I continue studio teaching and when

and make others want to believe it too.

my students and I can interact with.

I become a classroom music teacher.

A different way to develop your teaching

It helps to establish the room as your

Every student I have taught has also

personality is to personalize your

personal teaching space and makes

taught me and shaped me into who I am

teaching environment. A little bit of

students more comfortable.


color and some positive messages can

I am so happy that I’ve had the

R A C H E L K L I N E is an emerging teacher in the field of music education. She is working toward a B.A. in Music Education from Wright State University, anticipated in Spring 2019. She began teaching violin at Hilliard Music & Arts in Spring of 2017 after teaching lessons for four years prior. Rachel had the opportunity to advocate for music education and speak with state representatives of Ohio on Capitol Hill in NAfME Hill Day 2017 and plans to attend again in June 2018. She strives to make a difference in the lives of students as the President of the largest Collegiate NAfME chapter in Ohio and in the future as an elementary classroom music educator.

Developing Relationships with Colleagues professional. Students, colleagues, and

Teach concert etiquette to your

all those you deal with expect that of

students and audiences. Many

you. Your administrators are interested

of your students will go on to be

in your success and proud to share in

successful, urban adults and attend

your accomplishments, especially if you

concerts, plays, or operas. They will

carry out your tasks in a professional

be thankful for your guidance.

manner. Here are some ways to enhance your professionalism:

Join professional organizations such as NAfME, your state

Whether you are teaching in a small Dress the part. Hardly any schools

music educators association, and

school in suburban or city system, you

insist on a faculty dress code any

subscribe to journals. In doing

have colleagues. You are not an island

longer, but students want their

so, you surround yourself with

in the vast ocean of education. (You

teachers to look like professionals.

successful people and ideas in

school in a small rural district or a large

your field. Invest in your career

may feel that way some times, but that Be on time for work and

by attending state, regional and

music teachers within your school or

appointments. If you expect

national conventions/conferences,

school district and nonmusic teachers

students to be on time, you must

workshops, clinics, etc., to recharge

within your building.

be early. You need the extra

your “batteries.”

is normal.) Your colleagues are other

time to prepare for rehearsals or The music teacher is often the only

performances. Start performances

The above excerpt is adapted “Survival

professional musician in town. He

on time. Parents will appreciate it,

Techniques for the Band Director,” by

or she needs to act the part of the

and they expect it.

Dennis Granlie, Great Falls, MT. May 2018 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | 3

M&A Spotlight: Alan Day B Y A L A N D AY, M & A S R C AT E G O R Y M A N A G E R - G U I TA R S , A M P S & K E Y B O A R D S

it, and then I got my own for Christmas

serious military-minded musician

that year. There is a picture somewhere

with a real resume and an actual adult

of me sitting in front of the Christmas

audience. Fred showed me through his

tree with a brand new electric guitar in

teaching style that my ego was clouding

my arms and a big grin on my face. I still

my ability to cross over from being a

have that guitar!

mediocre player to a really outstanding player. I realized I needed to make

At twelve, I, of course, had no idea how

a decision to challenge myself to be

to play a guitar, so I was signed up for

humble about what I didn’t know. It was

lessons in a music store somewhere in

a pivotal, make or break decision for

Alexandria. That’s when I realized how

me. I could choose to continue on the

utterly boring music lessons can be. The

path of being “halfway there” or I could

We reached out to Alan Day, a former

teacher was really uninspiring and didn’t

be honest with myself about not really

Music & Arts teacher to speak about his

really do much to show me, the student,

knowing everything, and actually pursue

journey from teaching to becoming a

much more than how he did riffs, and

learning to be a stronger musician.

Sr. Category Manager at Music & Arts,

then would periodically help me out

selecting combo equipment for stores

when he remembered I was sitting there.

To mark the change in paradigm, I

to sell and models that will encourage

It was a big block for me and I was

cut my hair and focused on learning

students to stick with their lessons.

pretty frustrated. So, I quit the lessons. I

whatever I could from Fred. The

It’s his expertise from teaching that he

didn’t however, quit playing guitar.

knowledge transfer taught me that

brings to his current position that makes

“discipline” was key in attaining success.

products in the store, really stand out to

I enrolled in the area community college

Learning to master the physical


and started a major in music, studying

constraints of the instrument was as

music theory. I found myself in a guitar

important as understanding chordal

“I guess it must be the white hair, but

class studying under a high-profile jazz

scale relationships that relate to applied

people have been asking me lately about

player in the area. Fred Chapin was very

theory. The culmination of this was an

when I started playing music. For me,

strict and formal in his teaching style,

acquired perception of understanding

everything started in around 1967, in the

having been a military man, and a very

how to play real music and not just

Washington DC suburbs, which was a

well-known musician. It was studying


much simpler time and place, for a lot of

under him that I came to the blunt

reasons, than it is now.

realization that I really knew very little

Some years later, after playing

about music.

professionally for a while and having

I was twelve years old the year my older

some life experience behind me,

sister got a guitar for her birthday. I

I knew that Fredrick “Fritz” Chapin was

including traveling across the country

had a passing interest in music but she

a big name in the music business in

to play on the west coast, I became a

was the one that got the guitar, which

those days, but what I didn’t know until

music teacher myself. My own approach

I suppose my parents thought was a

I studied under him was how disciplined

was a little different from Fred Chapin’s,

good thing to give a teenager. Well, I

he was. I guess the contrast was pretty

in that I was considerably less tough on

was pretty jealous. I kept trying to play it

obvious, because here I was, this cocky,

my students. I realized that a balance

since she really didn’t do too much with

arrogant kid, and there was Fred, a

needed to exist between Fred’s very

4 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | May 2018

I taught on Saturdays in our Oakton,

music, that music makes more sense. My

McLean and Ellicott City stores for a

suggestions were communicated to the

number of years.

other guitar teachers in the company.

I feel that my own life experience

As I look back, I proudly count myself

assisted my approach in working with

having been at least a small part of the

my students. I have always believed

DC music “scene” in its heyday in the

that when you are teaching someone

1980’s and 90’s and having performed

something, you get better at it yourself.

and composed in various bands for

As I taught theory, scales and melodic

many years since then. At one point I

patterns, and their relationship to

was asked to record some guitar work

structured approach and empathy: a

chord progressions, these concepts all

on an album by the late recording artist

recognition of people’s differences in

strengthened and enhanced my own

Eva Cassidy, and my byline appears on

how they approach music, and how

playing and composition.

her final album, Time after Time. For me, music has been consistently rewarding

the differences in capability, home life, and physical limitations are part of

I am fortunate to have been able to

and part of that has to do with sharing

how they grow as serious musicians.

impart some of my personal ethics

it with a couple of generations through

Styles and preferences are important

and creative philosophy to what

teaching them to play. Over the years

to contemporary music and solidify

we have grown here as part of our

I have seen my students grow up and

the goal of retention in any lessons

business model at Music & Arts. I had

many have continued with music. Quite

program. In this regard, the fact that

a conversation with M&A founder Ben

a few of them are playing professionally

students actually prefer “songs” as their

O’Brien about the lessons program once

today, recording music and following

objective needed to be allowed, but I saw

I became a teacher, because I seemed

their own musical journeys. I think often

the need to ensure that they knew why

to have a high retention rate. I advised

of Fred Chapin, who passed away in

songs worked.

him at the time that to include music

2012. Fred made me a better teacher and

theory, chords and scales along with the

musician, there is no question in my

When I was in my early years at Music &

student’s choices and tastes resulted

mind about that. Good music education

Arts, which was at that time in Rockville,

in a well-rounded and excited student

improves students, by making them

MD, I was approached by a VP and

and helped with retention. If a student

better musicians and sometimes even

was asked to teach for the company in

understands why a chord progression

better people.”

addition to my regular full-time job.

works, then when they hear their favorite

May 2018 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | 5

In The Arts with Laura: Teaching Versus Performing BY LAURA ZOLFO, M& A REGIONAL LESSON MANAGER

I want to make sure it’s a positive effect.

decision. Remember though,

So how do you balance the two?

if inconsistencies become too regular, you risk wearing down the

You’ve probably been asked by your

relationship. The cost is students

District Manager or Store Manager

lose interest in learning, or working

to commit to a teaching day. We

with you, and they quit. So these

do this to ensure we’re honoring

change-ups should be irregular.

what customers are asking for: a teacher committed to their student’s musical growth.

Last-minute conflicts don’t go over well. The only thing families dislike more than inconsistency is the

Look for performance opportunities

last-minute phone call that we’re

instrument, the opportunity to create.

that don’t conflict with your

changing their schedule. Between

It’s an aspect of music that drew us in

teaching schedule. While many

teachers and students, we’re all

long ago, and what keeps us connected

families are impressed by your

juggling work, lessons, school,

to why we create every day. Some

performance resume and it initially

sports, vacations; the list goes on.

people achieve this high through

makes you attractive as a teacher, it

I recommend a minimum 1 week

preparing a meal, playing a sport, or

creates a rub that eventually wears

notice, but the more lead-time the

meaningful conversation. It’s the high

on people. We ask customers to be

better. There are a lot of variables

of connecting with ourselves, mankind

respectful of your time by arriving

to consider.

and the world around us. And we all

timely, being present regularly,

achieve it in different ways. It’s a human

and taking it easy on the schedule

We want you to remain motivated and

experience that we all desire on some

requests. To keep a happy studio,

connected to both music and teaching.

level. As an educator, my hope is that

we must do the same.

This makes you better equipped to love

As musicians, we feel drawn to our

teaching as your work and your passion.

you achieve this in some way through your teaching as well.

Keep in mind, you’re one of many.

We all thrive when we can agree on this

We have over 2,700 teachers


So why the mushy preamble? We wear

nationwide with varying interests.

the hat of both musician and educator.

In all likelihood, someone keeps

And when those two priorities collide,

a different schedule, and we try to

you may feel conflicted on which part of

balance you with other teachers.

yourself should win: the educator or the musician. And with a music company,

If an opportunity does conflict with

we’re well aware that another motivation

your teaching, communicate with

may be to perform on your instrument.

us! Some opportunities you really

It’s my belief that you should be able

shouldn’t, or don’t want to pass

to do both. Being an active performer

up. We can work out a solution

absolutely affects your teaching.

so long as you involve us in the

6 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | May 2018


build confidence and motivation. Of

recital attendance because the family is

course, the students need frequent

involved in the process!

performing opportunities and that is why I encourage all of my students to

Performing is Not the End Goal -

participate in recitals as well as any

But It’s Part of the Process

other local opportunities at their church,

Our job as music educators is to

school, or local events.

provide our students with a plethora of knowledge and experiences. Performing

Involving Parents in Practice and

is part of that and taking the time to

Performance Preparation

be intentional about preparing for

Parent involvement is a really useful tool

performances, teaching students and

Why I Take Time to Teach Students

for students to establish good practice

their parents HOW to prepare, and why

to Perform

habits as they are often the person that

they are so valuable is key in the way

I have been teaching for over 10 years

will be making sure it gets done! The

that I approach teaching.

at this point. I have spent time teaching

younger the student, the more critical

general music, high school and middle

this involvement is. It is very helpful in

We want these students to have

school band, choir, percussion, private

ensuring that students are practicing the

the confidence to share their skills

lessons on piano, voice, and even

proper things throughout the week, and

and talents with the world. It starts

collegiate level percussion. I work

working on some of the skills that are

by taking the time to teach about

in many different environments and

crucial for development.

performamce and providing them with many opportunities to have positive

something they ALL have in common is performing!

Talk with parents about the practice

performance experiences!

process you are helping the students After working with almost 2,000

develop. It is helpful to show parents

students at this point, I’ve noticed

what I am looking for, explain what is

that teaching students to perform is

going on developmentally, and HOW

really crucial. We have an opportunity

they can help. It takes time to explain

in private lessons to address this on a

this but it pays off in the end. I love

more individualized basis. So I spend

explaining my process with parents, and

a lot more time addressing how to

when we are in preparation mode for

perform, having the students reflect on

recitals I even challenge my students

their performances, and my favorite,

to practice their performances using

practicing visualization. Of course, I

their family as their audience. Having

spend time with the students building

parent involvement for recitals and

a foundation, but at the end of the

performance preparation is really helpful

day it is up to me not only to provide

for making sure the student continues

the students with the technical skills

on the proper path to becoming ready

that they need but the skills needed

for the performance. Not only that,

to have successful performances. This

but it helps boost excitement for the

is an opportunity for the students to

recital and is very helpful in boosting

A L I S S A C A S T R O is a freelance performer and music educator currently based in Columbia, SC. Alissa had a unique upbringing in a musical family. She is most known for percussion and singing, but plays a lot of other instruments as well. She recently graduated with her Master’s in Music Performance from the University of South Carolina studying with Dr. Scott Herring. Alissa has been teaching with Music & Arts for under a year but teaching for almost 11 years in a variety of settings. In addition, Alissa is Percussion section member of Augusta Symphony in Augusta, GA. She is also passionate about health & wellness and incorporating it into her teaching and everyday life! May 2018 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | 7

Thoughts on Rewarding Students In a student’s musical development, it

Did a student finish a book level?

Did the student achieve your goal?

is important that they feel successful

How about a trophy? You can

How about they can decide the next

every step of the way! Try some of these

find small, inexpensive, generic

song to learn (with your guidance,

simple ways to reward students for

examples at giftshops and trophy

of course!)

achieving goals and a job well done:

stores. •

Stickers are fun for younger learners

Playing a duet with a student

is highly motivating. Do you remember playing music with your •

Having a recital or performance?

How about a framed picture of the

How about a group tune? Everyone

student and teacher performing?

plays a part (no matter how simple),

Food! Believe it or not, but a small

and performs together at the end of

piece of candy works wonders!

the recital.

Words of encouragement are

Let parents know they did a great


enough of a reward for some. “I’m

job! The combination of teacher and

Certificate of achievement awards

proud of how far you’ve come” or

parent praise raises self-esteem and

are wonderful for students AND

“You did a great job today” work




Upcoming Performance Opportunity! One of the best things to keep a student excited about lessons is to perform what they’ve been learning. For instance the Exton, PA store held a piano recital with students from Tom Alberici’s studio. Get your students involved in the upcoming National Open House Event on the weekend of June 22-24th. This event features an Open Mic on Friday starting at 6:00 p.m. EST and two free guitar classes on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. All are encouraged to participate!

8 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | May 2018

Inside The Lesson Studio with Hannah BY H A N N A H B E S T, M & A R E G I O N A L L E S S O N M A N A G E R

website right now. That means half of

availability for students and reduce

you are missing. Think about how many

competition between teachers by having

students you’re missing because of this.

you teach your primary instrument.

If you’re not a technology person, that’s

We’ve also reduced the amount of

okay. Speak to your Store Manager to

guitar teachers by day significantly.

help you get your profile on the website.

We may have asked some of you to move to another day so we could help

Speaking of having a profile on the

you get more students without sharing

website, please post an appealing, high

the demand with another teacher. We

quality photo of yourself. If you have

actually do this with all instruments, not

an blurry image, one that’s too close or

just guitar. Having too many teachers

too far away, or just not you at your best,

teaching on the same instrument, on

ask the Store Manager to take a better

the same day, doesn’t create more

photo of you. We can see how many

opportunity for you unless we have

clicks each teacher receives on their

enough availability after school, for each

profile. Bios without good pictures or

instrument. We take this so seriously,

without a photo of you, they get skipped.

three people from the local market and

Customer’s just don’t look twice at your

myself or Laura personally review the

the employees in the store are the most


studio mix regularly for every location

effective group to help you gain more

Q “I feel like there are too many

Q “I really need more students. Please help!”

A “I have some effective tips for this, most definitely. First, you need to build a relationship with the Store Manager. It’s good to reach out and let us know how you’re feeling about your studio, but

students in your studio.

nationwide. This is to ensure you have the best chance for success.

guitar teachers on the schedule,

Second, participate in the store’s lesson

competing with me. What’s M&A

Today, we have 166 locations offering

events. Many of these are designed to

going to do about this?”

lessons and over 2,500 teachers

help you interface with musicians that

A “You know, when I started in my

would benefit from lessons. This also sends a strong signal to the store team that you’re a team player. One of the best events you can participate at, is the National Open House Event. On average, teachers receive three new students from this event. That’s over $1,000 dollars in lesson income annually in your pocket for a couple hours of

woodwind, percussion, and brass (in

7 or more studios in a single store had

that order), based on the community and

four guitar teachers per day. Now, we

customer interest.”

don’t have the demand from interested students to support this and we’ve noticed. We’ve also noticed that piano lessons and violin/viola lessons have taken the space of those added guitar spots.

The next thing you can do is a have a

So, what have we done about it? We

over 18,000 inquiries for lessons each year. Half of our teachers are on the

are piano, then guitar, then violin/viola,

position five years ago, stores that had

work in the store. Not a bad deal.

profile on the store’s website. We receive

contracted with us. The vast majority

hire teachers typically to teach one instrument. Even if the teacher can teach other things, we spread out the May 2018 | S O U N D T E A C H I N G | 9

Music & Arts | Sound Teaching | May 2018  

Newsletter for lesson teachers at Music & Arts

Music & Arts | Sound Teaching | May 2018  

Newsletter for lesson teachers at Music & Arts