7 MUST-HAVE TECH TOOLS FOR PIANO TEACHERS
This week marks one year since many of us taught our first online piano lessons, so we polled our members to ask what tech questions they wanted us to answer. The result is this month’s Technology Q & A Curiosity Box. Here are 7 of our favourite tech tools for piano teachers. Use them to enhance your teaching, and to explore new income streams in the piano studio beyond COVID-19.
1. ROCK OUT LOUD
Dodgy sound quality and lag ruining any chance of duet playing have been the major bugbears of online piano teaching. It is much more tiring straining to hear our students properly. Zoom, Teams and Skype were not originally designed with musicians in mind. Their noise-cancellation features are more suited to business calls than online music-making, often resulting in strange underwater piano sounds…
Enter Rock Out Loud, designed by Mike Grande – in his words, “the very first virtual music lesson platform designed by a music educator for music education”. Rock Out Loud has some really clever features, including the ability to display the sheet music your student is working on within the online lesson. Students can also download their lesson so they can practise during the week.
Superior audio quality is what really sets Rock Out Loud apart – the designers have recognised that teachers want to be able to play at the same time as their students, or speak whilst their student is playing. Paid subscribers can take advantage of the Enhanced Audio Recognition feature, removing the feedback loop which happens when we try and take an online lesson without wearing headphones, and the sound from our speakers loops back into the mic.
Annotation is more intelligent for the music teacher in Rock Out Loud. The in-built staff tool can be used in the lesson, and downloaded by the student to refer to later. You can access public domain music and chord progressions within virtual lessons too.
Our Director and Founder, Dr Sally Cathcart, now uses Rock Out Loud as her preferred online lesson platform, and many others are making the switch too. Members of The Curious Piano Teachers can watch Mike’s personalised video, and book a one-to-one demo with him to experience the platform for themselves.
2. DORICO – EXCLUSIVE MEMBER GIVEAWAY ON INSTAGRAM
Dorico is intuitive music notation software, designed by Steinberg, the creators of the sequencing package, Cubase. You can download Dorico SE for free here to try it out. Creating worksheets, flashcards, arrangements and compositions is straightforward in Dorico. Members of The Curious Piano Teachers can access a personalised video by John Barron, International Product Specialist at Steinberg, in the March 2021 Curiosity Box, with step-by-step instructions on how to create flashcards in Dorico.
John is a guest member of The Curiosity Lounge, our member-exclusive Facebook group, during March 2021, and is on hand to answer member questions on Dorico. In the pipeline is another video which will cover how to import graphics into Dorico, and use colour – important for creating colourful resources that our students will love.
From midnight GMT on Saturday 13th March 2021 to midnight GMT on Friday 26th March 2021, we are running an Instagram giveaway for members, where one lucky winner will win a Dorico Pro licence, unlocking all the features. Details of how to take part are available inside The Curious Piano Teachers’ membership.
Video recording software is an important tool for online teaching. Smart phones offer great recording quality and are simple to use, but QuickTime allows you to harness the power of your desktop, and use your custom mic and camera set-up for a more professional result.
Even returning to in-person teaching, short demonstration videos can be really useful for our students to refer back to during the week. QuickTime is the native video recording app for Mac, which comes with every Mac for free. You can use the app to record audio from a mic of your choice, video from multiple camera inputs, and to make screen recordings of your computer – useful if you want to walk a student through how to use some software, or teach composition or theory, for example. We love the ability to record a portion of the screen.
Inside the March Curiosity Box, Sally presents a short two-part video series to get you started with QuickTime, and showing you how to split and edit video clips.
Canva is such a useful graphic design tool and a must-have for your piano studio. You can design pretty much anything on it, from worksheets and resources to social media graphics. There is a template for just about everything.
Choose from either the free version or the Pro subscription; both come with a stock media library. As you’d expect, the Pro library is much more extensive and includes video and audio too. Uploading your own photos and media is very easy. The Pro version allows you to set up a Brand Kit with your studio colours, logo and font. The social media content planner and scheduler is a game-changer. Batch-creating beautiful images and posts is easy and you can schedule them to appear on your social media channels of choice when you want them to. All you need to do is block out the time to get on with it!
All of the Curious team use Canva on a daily basis – watch Sally’s walk-through video in the March 2021 Curiosity Box to find out more.
ScreenFlow is Director Sharon Mark-Teggart’s go-to video editing software package. It is a premium option, currently retailing at $129, although a free trial is available. You can record picture-in-picture, add graphics to your videos, and separate the audio from the video – useful for correcting laggy video recordings! You can crop your video, add transitions, and access a stock library of video and music for an extra cost.
Watch Sharon’s demo video (filmed in ScreenFlow!) on how to perform the basic functions that you might need, inside the March 2021 Curiosity Box.
6. MICROSOFT PUBLISHER AND MY MUSIC RESOURCE
If COVID-19 has you thinking about how you can add new revenue streams to your piano studio, you’ll want to check out www.mymusicresource.com. Created by Curious Piano Teachers Gwen Harborne and Ruth Alberici, music teachers can share and sell their original digital resources and printables on this website. It has an easily searchable database, allowing teachers to search for resources by instrument and concept. Gwen and Ruth walk you through the step-by-step process of becoming a creator.
Members of The Curious Piano Teachers can hop into a weekly Community Chat on Zoom on Fridays at 11AM GMT. Sessions include a mixture of community chat in breakout rooms, and presentations on piano teaching topics by guest speakers. This week’s Community Chat featured a guided tour of www.mymusicresource.com by Gwen and Ruth, and a demo for PC users on how to create original resources using Microsoft Publisher. The recording is available to members inside the Community.
We love Cadenza at The Curious Piano Teachers! Part online practice notebook, part lesson planning tool, Cadenza was developed by a team of teachers, parents and researchers from Queen’s University in Canada. Check out this four-part blog series we wrote about it for more detail, and this free webinar by Jodie Compeau of the Cadenza team:
The Media Annotator is a fantastic feature. Students and teachers can upload video and audio recordings and comment on them in ‘real time’; their comments and questions will pop up at the exact moment the teaching point occurs in the video. They can reflect on their own work and have a two-way conversation with their teacher. Smiley face emojis are a fun way to rate practice sessions.
Jodie Compeau will also be recording an updated video for the March 2021 Curiosity Box so watch this space!
If you’ve found this helpful why not join our supportive Community of piano teachers? Your first month of support is absolutely FREE. Inside our membership, you’ll have access to our library of over 70 piano teaching topics.
Click here to join and enter the code FREESUPPORT to claim your first free month, and after that, our usual subscription rate applies.
This blog post was written by Hannah O’Toole, Community & Marketing Manager, The Curious Piano Teachers.