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Three Ways Teachers Can Grow Their Studios and Engage Their Students

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Three Ways Teachers Can Grow Their Studios and Engage Their Students

Every year representatives from The Royal Conservatory attend conferences across North America, including the annual MTNA National Conference (April 2–6) and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (July 26–29, 2017). These events give us the opportunity to connect with private music teachers to find out how we can support their efforts to foster excellence among their students and increase the impact of music education. Below are three of the topics we are discussing this year: using diverse repertoire to engage students, choosing the best digital resources for your studio, and bringing music to life through theory.

Look Beyond Classic Repertoire

Beautiful, inspiring music cuts across genres and time periods. Many contemporary pieces include pedagogical challenges for teachers and learning opportunities for students. In a recent blog post for The Royal Conservatory, examiner Pete Zarins pointed out six pieces of popular music – ranging from George Jones to the James Bond theme – that can reveal a wealth of music theory.

Similarly, many works of jazz, blues, country, soul, rock, and musical theatre can add a fun dimension to a student's practice routines while also developing their musical skills. The Conservatory's Popular Selection List, 2015 Edition, lists arrangements of hundreds of non-classical pieces – including songs by Adele and Beyoncé, as well as the theme to The Big Bang Theory – selected to complement the repertoire in Levels 1 to 9 of The Royal Conservatory's Celebration Series®, 2015 Edition. Pieces on the list can be used as one of two required etudes for examinations from Levels 1 to 9, or as the “Teacher's Choice” selection – also an etude substitute – for examinations from Levels 1 to 9.

The core repertoire of the Celebration Series® also extends beyond classical favourites to include pieces in popular and jazz styles written for piano, and including works like Jazz Blast by acclaimed composers Randall and Nancy Faber, and Carnivalse by Grammy Award-winning composer, pianist, hip hop artist, and Royal Conservatory alumnus Chilly Gonzales.

Find the Right Digital Tools for Your Studio

One of the best ways to attract the attention of parents in your community is to enhance your online presence. Many parents of young children are accustomed to finding information over the internet and communicating via social media profiles.

Consider setting up a website so your studio will show up in Google searches for music lessons in your community, and promote your site through a Google AdWords campaign. Build your social media presence by creating a Facebook page for your studio – separate from your personal account – and encourage your friends to “Like” it. To further expand your social media presence, join one of the many professional music teacher groups also available via Facebook and connect your account to LinkedIn to build relationships with your colleagues.

You can further professionalize your practice by integrating technology into your teaching. For example, The Royal Conservatory's new Four Star® online ear training resources allow students to practice ear training exercises anytime, anywhere with an internet connection. Each ear-training module includes hundreds of questions presented in an interactive format that ensuresstudents have a new experience every time they practice. The interactive exercises map perfectly to the Four Star® Sight Reading and Ear Test books. Each one of the books includes a unique code on the inside back cover that provides access to the corresponding online resource.

Piano teachers can also invest in online professional development through RCM Piano Teacher Specialist Courses. These 10-week / 40-hour courses in piano pedagogy are led by outstanding pedagogues and provide deep insight into subjects such as: artistry, musicianship, repertoire, and physical approaches to the instrument. Each module of study contains videos and articles from experts in the field; an assignment and portfolio element; RCM curriculum insights; and a moderated discussion forum with 20 – 25 professional colleagues. Teachers can choose from three courses: Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Bring Music to Life Through Theory

Through the study of theory, harmony, analysis, and history, students will engage more meaningfully with the music they hear and play, enabling them to become well-rounded musicians. This summer we are launching Celebrate Theory®, the first-ever Royal Conservatory-authored series that supports the study of music theory at every stage of a student's musical development.