Want To Get Teens’ Attention? Tell Them They’re Being Manipulated « Annie Murphy Paul

teaching boys teens…the undisciplined use of technology can waste their time, fragment their focus, and interfere with their learning. Just like their health, young people’s attention is a precious resource, and they should be empowered to resist the companies that would squander it.

I’ve long been a fan of Annie Murphy Paul’s excellent education blog.

This article puts a unique perspective on how we might approach the challenge of getting teens to focus when they’re online.

Read it here:

Want To Get Teens’ Attention? Tell Them They’re Being Manipulated « Annie Murphy Paul.

Top 5 most influential piano teachers online

best piano teachers

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of great information you could spend your life reading online about piano teaching? 

While narrowing down a list of the most influential teachers to only five was always going to be difficult, it has also been a really interesting exercise.  My criteria was: whose blogs/articles/comments do I read the most, whose email newsletters always make me click for more information and who shares the most information through regular updates?​

In an increasingly crowded market of online bloggers, there are a few that truly stand out amongst the crowd. With free resources, regular updates and thought-provoking content, I would really miss it if any of these guys stopped posting. 

These are teachers who not only run thriving studios, but take the time every week to share their ideas and suggestions, generally for free, to unknown colleagues around the world. ​Their ideas are benefiting countless numbers of students and inspiring thousands of teachers to improve their practice. 

Thanks guys - we owe you one!​

piano teaching training Andrea Dow

​Andrea and Trevor Dow are truly inspirational. I can't get over just how much stuff they share every week! Between blog posts, podcasts and free resources galore, their website is updated regularly with a treasure-trove of goodies for piano teachers. And they've totally nailed their website design - easy to use and uber cool!

  • Weekly podcast just for piano teachers. Interviews with industry leaders, composers and teachers focussing on topcial issues and teaching suggestions.
  • Online store featuring original music scores and books about teaching boys, composing, practice and teaching beginners.
  • How to teach piano series - tips and tricks for teaching any type/age of student

Head to teachpianotoday.com

tim topham piano teaching Wendy Stevens

Wendy Stevens' blog, ComposeCreate.com is about much more than just composing and creating! Wendy is a dynamic teacher who seems happy to share all her teaching secrets in order to help her readers become better teachers themselves. Now branching into online webinar presentations, I know Wendy will be an important fixture of piano teacher's professional develop schedules for years to come. 

  • As well as heaps of teaching tips, Wendy is big on supporting teachers to run their businesses more effectively through webinars, presentations and resources galore. 
  • Lots of original compositions (have you heard of the "Booger Song"?!) and rhythm training books like "Rhythm Cup Explorations" and "Rhythm Menagerie"
  • Download free puzzles, games, worksheets and flashcards.

Head to composecreate.com

tim topham piano teaching Diane Hidy

For those of you following blogs, Diane Hidy will be one of best-known on the internet. The wealth of her expertise and happiness to share all her ideas with others is inspiring. If you haven't visited her website recently, you'll need to set aside a few hours to go through it all - the depth of resources is considerable. Oh, and did I mention she is also an amazing pianist and presenter? 

  • Diane has led the industry for years with free downloadable resources for piano teachers - especially focussed on inspiring younger students and beginners.
  • Heaps of original solo piano music to download and lots of recommendations for students: attention grabbers, music for adults, simple sonatinas, etc. etc. 
  • Diane's piano teaching tips blog: so honest and thoughtful. Diane is happy to expose her own shortcomings in order to help us all learn how to improve. 

Head to dianehidy.com

piano teaching Jennifer Eklund

Not only has Jennifer written her own piano method (Piano Pronto) and numerous compositions, she is a regular contributor to online forums and Facebook groups, one of which she administers (Piano Teacher Central). I really value her thoughts when it comes to the many online discussions about repertoire, lesson content and how to teach more effectively. 

  • Huge original online sheet music catalogue for teachers. 
  • Piano Teaching 101 series of blog articles. 
  • Free downloadable teaching resources.

Head to PianoPronto.com

piano teaching Graham Fitch

Internally-renowned pianist and teacher, Graham Fitch runs a weekly blog called Practising the Piano. You can almost set your clock by Graham's posts, which are designed for students as much as teachers. His tips and suggestions are always right on the money and I find his techniques personally align well with my own teaching. 

  • Regular, comprehensive and succinct posts about one aspect of performance, practice or teaching each week. 
  • Regular video demonstrations in conjunction with his published magazine work. 
  • Email your questions for a professional answer or download his eBooks in which he basically shares his entire teaching knowledge from starting technique and scales to interpretation and musical history. 

Head to practisingthepiano.com

​Of course, there are heaps of other great bloggers and teachers sharing their resources online; this is just my attempt to distil them down to those I currently find most relevant in my day-to-day teaching. In my opinion, the professional development opportunities available for teachers through forums, blogs and Facebook groups is second-to-none. Best of all, it's all free and you don't have to leave your house to attend.

If you're a piano teacher eager to improve your teaching practice (that's everyone, right?!), make sure you follow these guys. Your teaching will be all the richer for the lessons you'll learn. 

Make sure you also check out my posts: Top 4 Piano Teaching Facebook Groups - Get Connected! and ​10 Best Piano Teaching Facebook Pages for more details on how to connect regularly with other piano teachers around the world. 

If you've got any questions about how to get started with these blogs or forums, please leave a message below.

Who would you put in your top 5 list??

From Pixels to Paper | eBook review – All about music reading software

ipad piano apps

Everything you need to know but were afraid to ask about using technology to read/access/create music!

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure that I could learn much more about using technology to view sheet music – it’s something I’ve done with my iPad for years. I’ve blogged about it, I’ve taught others how to do it and I use my iPad just about every day in my performing or teaching roles.

But I now realise, having read this book, that there is plenty I didn’t know!

For example, being an iPad user, I’ve never been much help to people asking questions about Android devices. This book covers apps and accessories for all devices in depth.

I also haven’t used that many accessories for performing – pedals, stands, page-turners (until recently: see my article about AirTurn here), etc. Did you know that some musicians need to be able to turn pages with a bite controller in their mouth? Can you work out what instrument that is?

I’ve also settled very much on forScore as my music viewer so when it comes to helping people with other apps, I’m at a loss. This book taught me about a whole lot of apps I didn’t even know existed.

In fact, I had trouble putting it down. That’s saying a lot for an instructional text!

What is it?

From Pixels to Paper is a comprehensive, but easy-to-read encyclopaedia about everything to do with music reading software and hardware. Note that I didn’t mention “iPad”. As mentioned above, this book includes a heap of great information about Android tablets and apps and using the internet and Mac/PC computers for music reading. 

The book is full of hundreds of links to websites where you can buy accessories and find more information. Best of all, if you buy the printed version, it comes with QR codes that you can scan so you don’t have to type in all the web addresses – very handy!

There is also a great section about how to scan your scores (did you know you can buy automated book scanning robots or send your books to an online place that will digitise them for you?) and how to get that information into your reader. This is vital information that I often get asked about during conferences and presentations.

There are also great interviews with real-world musicians about how they’ve been using technology for score reading.

music reading softwareSome interesting chapters

Here’s some of the more interesting chapters (from Airturn’s blog: GOING DIGITAL FOR MUSICIANS):

  • Chapter 9: Transferring Digital Sheet Music to an Android Tablet (we cover using email, a USB cable, and thumb drives)
  • Chapter 18: Screen Aspect Ratios (a geeky way of explaining how the shape of a computer/tablet screen affects the view of scanned paper music)
  • Chapter 24: Set Lists (and my favorite section title of the book on p. 202, “Bwahahahaha! The Evil Megalomaniacal Set-List Manager” – this talks about apps where you can have one master iPad actually control the opening of songs and even page turns on several slave iPads. Gives a whole new meaning to “keeping everyone on the same page”, eh?)
  • Chapter 33: Creating Musical Notation Content (covers various software options for creating traditional music notation compositions, including web-based applications, commercial and open-source software, and a category I call “free-play” software.  Oh, and we also take a brief look at the hardware needed to make all this work.)
  • Chapter 35: Controllers: Expanding Ways to Work With your Computer (this is the chapter that gets into the story of how I came up with pedals for turning digital sheet music pages hands free)

At this point, I should probably share a caveat. The book is written by one of the founders of AirTurn – the bluetooth page turning pedal. However I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t one big sales pitch like some other eBooks that are sponsored by product manufacturers. The AirTurn is, of course mentioned, but only in context.


This book is perfect for:

  • Performers, students and teachers of any instrument who would like to know more about using technology
  • Teachers who are just getting started with technology and need help and guidance
  • Teachers, like me, who thought they knew it all!

In summary, you’ll find a whole lot of info relevant to all sorts of digital music: reading, playing, notating, etc. If you’ve got an Android device, you’ve probably had trouble finding information about music apps in this iPad-centric field. If so, this book will be a God-send.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, please use one of the following links:

From Paper to Pixels
From Paper to Pixels – Paperback

Or get the Kindle download via Amazon:

Before you go – a quick poll:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary download of this eBook for evaluation purposes. I was not required to write a favourable review and all opinions expressed are my own. Please note that links are affiliate links meaning that I will get a small commission on any sales made via this post. 

Best stress-free business practices for your studio | Webinar by Wendy Stevens

piano teaching businessLooking for help with the business side of your studio?

Many of us run home-based teaching studios. Keeping on top of all the paperwork, income tax reports, student scheduling, agreements, payments, invoices, etc. etc., can be overwhelming.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fancy forking-out $30,000 to do an MBA, finding piano teaching business information can be a real challenge. In fact, even if you did do a business degree, piano teaching is such a specific occupation that I’m not certain it would help that much anyway!

Thankfully, there is one person who has a heap of experience in this area, and she’s about to share all her secrets with us online.

The person, of course, is my friend and fellow blogger, Wendy Stevens from composecreate.com. She is conducting a webinar based on her highly-rated live presentations about improving the business practises of your studio, entitled: Best Stress-free Business Practices for your Studio.

I love that this isn’t just about business practices but it’s about stress-free business practices - so important in our already hectic schedules.

piano teaching businessHow does it work?

In her welcoming, supportive and infinitely practical way, Wendy is running two 2-hour live webinars for any teachers around the world to watch. I’m really pleased that it’s on at 10am Melbourne time, so no excuses for any Aussies (even if you’re in Perth!). Oh, and it’s completely tax-deductible here in Australia and will contribute to any PD hours you’re required to fulfil if you’re a registered teacher.

What’s a webinar? It’s just an online interactive way of accessing a live presentation at home. Participants can ask questions and see handouts just as if you were in the room with the presenter. Best of all, you can do it all lying on your sofa!

Full details and FAQ are available on her Webinar blog page.

What will I learn?

Anyone who attends will learn:

  • How to actually make a living teaching piano
  • Figure out what a reasonable rate is
  • Get paid the same amount every month no matter how many lessons are in the month
  • Eliminate makeup lessons without a revolt
  • Deal creatively with the over-scheduled student
  • Take off time for illness and snow days without losing income
  • Special offers and a freebie will be given to anyone who stays live to the end.
  • And many more general teaching tips will also be included.
  • New music will be unveiled and a free gift given to live attendees

The webinar will also be recorded and available for a limited time after the air date for registered teachers in case they cannot attend both days live.

Special Offer!

Wendy has kindly offered $10 off to timtopham.com readers who register before July 18th with coupon code “TimTopham”. Teachers need to only pay one price for both days so this is a real bargain for this quality of training.

Looking for more online training for piano teachers? Check out my videos which will be coming online soon and leave your email so you’re the first to know when they’re uploaded.

Have a great start to Term 3!

Piano Music for Adults | Diane Hidy

piano for adults

Music Adults Will Love

I just had to reblog this article by Diane Hidy as it’s often so hard to find pieces that really engage adults and teens.

While I haven’t tried them all, many of the ones listed here have worked for teen and adult students of mine as well. They tend to be a bit slower, more emotional with lots of arpeggiated bass lines and soaring, cantabile melodies.

Perfect for a moody teen or any adult in your studio :)

Music Adults Will Love — Diane Hidy.

HookTheory – hands down THE BEST new resource for music teachers

piano pop musicWhat I’m about to share with you is one of the coolest and most useful things I’ve found on the internet for music teaching. Ever.

No, it’s not an app, and no, I’m not being paid to write about it.

It’s just really unique…and brilliant.

If you’re a music teacher and you’d like to teach students more about popular music, chords and progressions, then this is the ultimate new resource for you. 

So, what is it?

It’s an amazing new resource called HookTheory.

Basically, a few guys got together an analysed the chords and progressions behind 1300 pop songs (and growing everyday). They put all the data into their purpose-built software which you can use online for free to find out about how the songs are constructed, general trends in chord progressions and how to make your own progressions.

Along the way, you learn a heap about music theory too.

The website has also now spawned an eBook and a composition tool which I can also highly recommend.

Oh, and they’ve got a great blog that explains it all. Make sure you read their article: I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found. Explains a lot.

The main benefit of the software is that you can easily analyse how pop songs are constructed with your students. They can also learn heaps about music theory in a practical way using relevant, modern-day examples, and they can start thinking more harmonically about composing their own progressions.

It’s truly revolutionary.

Who’s it for?

Teachers and students of any instrument who are interested in pop music construction, practical theory and chord progressions.

The eBook is a great read for adults who are committed to self-directed learning which can be followed-up by practical work in lessons. It’s also a great read for teachers who want to develop their understanding of chords, pop and progressions in an interactive manner.

Show me!

The website is split into four main sections:

  1. TheoryTab - search for a pop song and watch and listen to how it was composed. Get an analysis of the chords and the melody in HookTheory’s specially designed online interface.
  2. TheoryTab – Trends – find out what chords work together in an interactive and fun online database that also shows you other songs that use the same construction. Listen to the song on YouTube within the app and watch as it’s analysed in front of you. Brilliant.
  3. HookPad - software to help you build your own progressions.
  4. Dictation - an online aural test that’s actually practical! Can you work out the chord progression that’s used in the examples?

Want to see it in action?

Here’s a quick 6-minute demo about how I use it in my studio:


Check it out now and let me know what you think!

The Real Reason Teens Are Quitting Your Studio – Part 3: Technology

piano teaching technology

Teens and Technology

The last in my 3-part series about motivating teenage piano students has just gone live at Jennifer Foxx’s great piano teaching blog: FPS Resources.

This week, in the final part of the series, we’ll discuss how keeping up with technology can help you motivate and retain teenagers in your studio.

Here’s a taster:

If you’re trying to get students to choose between 30 mins of Bach practice hands separately with a metronome and 30 minutes on their Xbox, you’re going to lose every time!

But what if they got to learn their favourite pop songs by playing along to the full band and vocals on their iPad for 30 minutes? Or if they got to practice their jazz improv by playing along with a bass and drums? How much more engaged could they be?

For more, you can read the original article here.

7 Ways Technology Has Revolutionised The Way I Arrange Music | Midnight Music

piano teaching blog

Music Arranging Technology

In this great post, one of Australia’s most respected presenters about technology and music education, Katie Wardrobe, sums up how we can all use technology to help us perform, compose, arrange and print music.

Excellent summary of some of the best iPad apps and online resources. Make sure you check out her website and online training courses too!

7 Ways Technology Has Revolutionised The Way I Arrange Music | Midnight Music.

Crotchets, Quavers, and Minims…Piano Worksheets With UK Vocabulary | Susan Paradis

piano teaching tips

As many of the best piano teaching blogs on the internet are US-based, the terminology used can sometimes get lost on Aussie and British students.

While I understand that a quarter note is a crotchet (and don’t get me started on how much more relevant and useful the US terminology is when teaching time signatures!), students using US-based worksheets might be a little confused.

This is why it’s great that a teacher as well-respected as Susan Paradis in the USA has updated a number of her over 300 worksheets with Aussie/British terminology.

Best of all, her resources are all free. Check it out via the link below.

Crotchets, Quavers, and Minims…Oh, My! Worksheets With UK Vocabulary | Susan Paradis Piano Teaching Resources

Looking for the best interval training app? Auralia now available on iPad and iPhone

best aural training appAural Training Software

Auralia is an Australian-based software company that has designed and built exceptional aural training software for many years. Its software and newer cloud-based service is used by school students all over the country and it has a growing international reputation.

Given that achievement in Australian exams can be affected significantly by a student’s performance in the “supplementary tests” like sight-reading, aural and general knowledge, it pays for teachers to be aware of ways to make practising aural skills more effective and more fun.

Bringing tech to ‘boring’ aural work

There’s no doubt that teaching, practising and testing aural skills is not regarded highly by most instrumental music teachers. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the Aural Test book to be pulled out just a week or two before an exam.

Given this is both unfair and unproductive for the student involved (not to mention all the other ways in which this is pedagogically unsound), wouldn’t it be better to provide a graduated, student-driven opportunity for practice throughout the school year?

Enter two brand-new fully-featured iPad and iPhone apps:

As far as aural training goes, these are the best interval training apps around.

How they work

Both apps are intuitive, logical and fun to use. They feature lessons in sequence, building a students understanding from easier to more complex intervals. The lessons explain how best to approach each new interval challenge and tricks like remembering the intervals through the first notes of famous tunes.

The apps also have a “custom” feature where teachers or students can select exactly what they’d like to be test on. Intervals can be ascending or descending and set in a particular vocal or instrumental range.

Best of all, the app listens to a student’s singing or playing and tells them whether they’ve played/sung the right note.

Check it out here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary download of this app for review purposes. I was not required to write a favourable review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.