As more and more music teachers start developing their own blogs and websites, I thought it would be good to share with you some of the tools that I use to manage and run my website and business and also tools I use daily in my studio.
Please see below for a full list of all my recommendations. These are related to piano teaching, running a studio business and website hosting and construction. I'll update these regularly as I find and try new products and can be confident about recommendations.
If you're looking for training: online courses, webinars, hangouts, etc., then please head to my page: Professional Development for Piano Teachers.
Studio Business Software
First things first, make sure you get your business affairs organised (yes,you are running a small business!). Running a business comes with responsibilities (tax, scheduling, billing) and much of this can take a lot of time, so it pays to be efficient and to automate things as much as possible.
If you’re still using paper invoices and billing parents manually, then you really could be much more productive with your time. I use software called Music Teachers’ Helper which takes all of the hassle out of the business/logistic challenges so that you can spend more time teaching or preparing amazing lessons.
It also allows you to schedule lessons efficiently, communicate with parents and students automatically and you can even use it to track your resources, lending library and your students’ repertoire.
Click below to get 10% off your MTH subscription FOR LIFE.
Studio Sound System
People often ask me what sound system I use in my studio.
I have always used and loved my Logitech system with Subwoofer. While bluetooth systems are great, they often lack the punch of a wired system. Make sure you get something with a subwoofer - the sound quality will not be beaten.
This is the Logitech Z623 which, at just over $100, is a bargain for the sound quality you'll get. The sound is huge!! If you have a big studio and don't want to plug-in via cables, grab the Bluetooth Audio Adaptor while you're there.
If you're looking for an upright piano for your teaching room, you can't go past the industry standard teaching model: U3 Upright Model.
These are used the world over in schools and institutions and last forever whilst maintaining a very solid tuning.
Depending on the size of your room (and budget), also consider the CX3 which is a smaller grand piano but has the sound and feeling of a much larger instrument.
If you're looking for something for the stage, then the C7 is probably my all-time favourite acoustic instrument.
ps. Yamaha also make the amazing hybrid "Avant Grand" pianos which feature a real grand piano action in a digital instrument. Worth exploring if you have the budget.
If you're on a smaller budget or just don't have room for a piano, I recommend Roland Digital pianos for their amazing sound and the quality of their action.
The Roland FP-80 is still one of the pianos in my studio. The action is superb and the Supernatural sound engine is simply remarkable. This is a great option if you need some portability, and it also comes with full wooden stand and 3-pedal set if it's going to be more permanent.
For a premium upright-electric piano, you can't go past the new LX-7 which, for all intents and purposes, looks and feels like a real upright (without the need for tuning).
Bluetooth Page Turner
I’ve long been a fan of the iPad music accessories developed by AirTurn.
Not only do they have the best bluetooth page turners on the market, they also manufacture stands, mounts, a great eBook, remote controls and a variety of other handy accessories for any musician or teaching using the iPad in their studio.
AirTurn was started by teachers and performers looking for great solutions and continues to be run by musicians dedicated to enhancing the use of technology in the studio.
An iPad is an indispensable tool for any music teacher in the 21st Century. I would even say essential tool.
I've always used and trusted iPads over other tablet devices as Apple have by far the best audio and sound production technology and connections in their devices and they also have the widest range of apps to use.
If you're unsure about the best apps for piano teachers, check out: Best iPad Apps for Piano Teachers.
The link below will take you to Amazon, where I've selected the iPad Pro 128GB WiFi only model, which is currently the device I would recommend for any piano teachers.
If you're going to do anything related to music notation or hand writing on the iPad, you're going to need a stylus.
Having tried lots of pens over the years, the latest stylus from Adonit, the Jot Dash is by far the best on the market for iPads and Android tablets and phones.
The Jot Dash has a fine point (unlike the fat rubber ends or clear discs of the old days) and is remarkably natural. It does require charging as it has a powered tip, but the included USB charging plate makes this quick and easy and it lasts 14 hours.
Ps. If you have an iPad Pro, then get the Apple Pencil. I know it's expensive, but it's apparently amazing (I haven't tested it yet).
Phone & Tablet Holders (for recording, etc.)
Have you been looking for a simple way to hold your phone so that you can record your students performing without all the shaking?
A shaky video detracts so much from the content and is so easy to solve. Forget sticking your phone to a music stand and hoping it doesn't fall off: just get the iKlip mini!
This great little device holds any iPhone-sized smart phone at any angle and clamps to either a music or microphone stand. Easy to adjust and move, you'll wonder how you ever coped without it!
I now use this to record all of my teaching videos.
Ps This model is for phones. If you want to hold a tablet, you'll need the bigger iKlip Expand. I use both and wouldn't recommend anything else.
Connect your iPad to your digital piano
Most digital pianos have a USB connection which will allow you to send MIDI data to your iPad for recording, notating and games/tests.
However, until everything goes bluetooth or wireless, you'll need a physical adaptor to connect your keyboard to your iPad as the iPad doesn't have a USB connection.
This adaptor you need is called a "Camera Connection Kit" and, depending on the type of connection in the bottom of your iPad (older models have a 30-pin connector, newer ones have the "Lightning" connector), this will cost around $30.
If you have an iPad 1, 2 or 3, then you'll need one of these connectors, otherwise click below if you have a newer model with the Lightning connector:
I use a Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam for all my podcasts and many of my recordings and webinars.
It has a huge range of features, but best of all, the image quality is amazing (even if it's not obvious on the Podcast videos due to the compression required for online distribution).
It has a clever fold-out bracket that allows it to sit comfortably on the top of a screen or tablet and still be angled into the right viewing position.
While there are plenty of cheaper models, if you're looking to do online lessons or record videos for students, it's easy to use and highly recommended.
All-time Favourite Teaching Books **MUST READ!!**
These are all books that have shaped my current teaching practice and continue to be books that I reference regularly (if I could only find them amongst all the Post-it notes and scribbles!). These books will change how you teach.
Teaching Methods & Technique
Professional Video Recording
If you've seen videos on my site that look pretty professional with a clear image and out-of-focus background, that's thanks to my Canon EOS 650D (Rebel T4i in USA) and f1:1.8 50mm lens. Note: you don't get the same effect with telephoto lenses and the standard lenses that generally come with new cameras.
I chose this camera for a number of reasons, but notably, it has a fold-out screen that allows you to watch yourself as you record (great for solo shooting). It records up to 10 minutes of video at a time in full HD.
It also comes with the Canon EOS Utility software that allows you to control focus and settings and watch the shooting from a laptop which means that you can easily record yourself without the help of other people.
Microphones - Podcast & Recording
For the price, you really can't go past ATR USB microphones.
If you want something a bit smaller and simpler, also check out the ATR2100, which is what I used to get started with my podcasting.
If you get a condenser microphone like the one pictured, you'll want to get a scissor or boom arm, pop shield and shock mount given they are much more sensitive and need to be held in a different way to the standard (cardiod) mic.
This is the place to start if you want to build a free website. WordPress is the Number 1 platform for websites that are 100% customisable, free and easy to use.
Please note that when starting a website, you've got two options with WordPress:
I've been using Lightning Base as my web host for over three years and can't say enough about how much I love what Chris and the team do.
The most amazing thing about Lighning Base is the customer support. I've never waited longer than about 6 hours (more often less than 2 hours, anytime in the world!) for an email reply from Chris, who is always happy to spend the time required to help me if I break something (this happens quite often!) or I've got a concern or question.
If you're just getting started online and moving from a free WordPress site to your own hosted version, and you know that you may well need help along the way., this is the place to get your hosting! They'll even help with the move.
Don't take your chances anywhere else - this is a fast, streamlined hosting service that is backed by an excellent interface and customer support. You can't go wrong.
Website Themes & Plugins
Once your hosting is up-and-running and you've installed WordPress on your server, don't do anything before you've downloaded Thrive Themes and Thrive Content Builder.
These guys have the most stable, well-coded and conversion-focussed themes on the internet and constantly bring out new updates (every week).
Thrive Content Builder plugin is by far the best front-end editor for WordPress which means you can build pages that look amazing (my whole site and all my landing pages are built with this tool) without any coding knowledge.
Add every conceivable button, feature, headline, animation, etc. that you need all with a drag and drop interface.
The Thrive team are leading the way with the most updated, functional and useful WordPress themes and tools, so I'd get in now while the prices are still incredibly reasonable for what you get. Excellent service and excellent value all round.
One of the first things you want to do when you set up your self-hosted WordPress site is start collecting emails. Aweber is the software I recommend for this purpose.
Collecting emails allows you to start building a fan base of people who you can directly contact when you update your site, release new information or products or just want to share something.
Blog Content Scheduling
Once you've created your site, if you're looking to blog regularly, then check out CoSchedule which is the software I use to organise my content.
CoSchedule allows you to plan your blog posts on a calendar and share roles and writing with other people really easily.
It also allows you to create your own automated social schedule for each article you write.