How Using Technology Beyond the Studio Enhanced my Music Teaching

By Lou Ann Pope, owner of Pope Piano Studio

I have always considered myself to be a cutting-edge piano teacher who has embraced technology from the start of my teaching career. I have continually used music apps in my studio and have even given seminars on using computers in my teaching. However--and it’s a BIG however-- I allowed myself to be held back by not knowing how to use technology outside of my studio to enhance my teaching. For example, since I didn’t know how to create a YouTube channel to share videos with my students, I just didn’t. And I used the excuse: I don’t know how to do that and it seems like a daunting task. So I simply gave myself a “bye” on that one, and many others, as you will see.

"I hoped that someday I could learn how to use technology to my advantage beyond the lessons."

My excuses were allowing me to hold myself back from being a more efficient and creative teacher. I didn’t need to achieve the goal, because I didn’t set the goal in the first place! It seemed out of my reach. I hoped that someday I could learn how to use technology to my advantage beyond the lessons. But, as we all know, hope is not a strategy and achieving new milestones always gives us a sense of purpose and pride. 

What is holding you back from being your best self as a teacher? Here are some excuses I discovered I was telling myself:

  • I didn’t have a simple way to share a picture of a musical motif composed by a student for another student to improvise, so I let it slide.

  • I couldn’t figure out how to easily send a practice challenge to a group of my students, so I ignorantly gave myself grace.

  • I found it to be cumbersome to send a student a backing track, teacher accompaniment or the student duet part for their recital piece, so I just waited until they came to their next lesson to play it with them. This, in effect, caused my students to take longer to prepare for the recital.

  • I didn’t have an effective way to send a parent a link to buy a book for their child, so I became a middleman and spent my own money on lesson and supplemental books, and then waited to be reimbursed.

  • I never sent my piano parents a podcast or an article, because it took too much effort to email all of my parents and attach the appropriate data, and it would just get lost in the cyber-sea.

  • I didn’t challenge my students to practice their recital piece the night before a big performance because I hated to bother the parents with a text.

  • I didn’t record videos of my students to watch and self-critique. And I didn’t record videos for my students, demonstrating what I would like my students to achieve.

  • I also was continually reinventing the wheel, writing assignments into “the black hole” of the notebook, rarely to be looked at by the student. Often, I couldn’t remember the cool way I taught the piece the last time.

  • I rarely showed students any extra media that related to their piece. (Things like, “That might sound good on steel drums. How do you make steel drums? What is a Musette? How do you dance a Minuet?”)

  • I never asked my students to send me any of their practice sessions, and I rarely had a student ask me a question when they were practicing at home.

  • I never paired my students into “Practice Buddies” to encourage each other to practice, because it would have been difficult for them to communicate.

  • I never had a student send me a recording of a new piece they had just composed mid-week. And I never had another student compliment them on their composition.

  • I didn’t ask students to go out in the snow and make a snowman, draw rhythms on the ground, and then go back in the house to make up a piece about their experiences, and send to me--and the rest of my studio, of course!

  • I didn’t ever send any ear training examples home with a student. And if they practiced them, how would I know?

  • I didn’t have a way to honor my good practicers by attaching their recording to an assignment, so the next student to play it could hear a good performance of said piece, and the student who was recorded could feel proud of their accomplishment...and on...and on...

The funny thing is that I never thought about most of these activities because I wasn’t in “creative teacher mode.” I didn’t know what I was missing! However, this is definitely a case where “ignorance is NOT bliss.” Ignorance was holding ALL of us back--both me and my students!

What turned everything around for me? Tonara Studio became the pièce de résistance that had been missing in my life! It set the bar high by offering me ALL of the tools to set and achieve each of these goals, simply and efficiently. For any assignment, I can add text, audio, video, YouTube links, PDF, and AI-Technology Compare Recording, links to podcasts, links to where a parent can buy their child’s book, or an article for them to read.  

Assignments and practice tracking on Tonara Studio

I can now intentionally be an effective, innovative, and resourceful teacher without having to learn how to do each of these technologically challenging activities individually. My students love being in connection with me and with their Practice Buddies, whom I have grouped together. They often organically begin a challenge for the rest of the studio to complete. My repertoire is saved into a bank of assignments with all of the media attached, to be reassigned to any student in the future. I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. For me, Tonara is one-stop-shopping: AKA my “studio in a box.” 

Chat view from Tonara Studio

Most of the activities I mentioned are simple and fun to implement, and honestly don’t take much time at all. What would you like to accomplish in your studio? What is holding you back? With Tonara Studio you have no excuses!!

Tonara Studio is an all-in-one platform to help motivate your students to practice and manage your studio. You can schedule lessons, send smart assignments, encourage your students with fun rewards and help motivate them to practice more in between lessons. Sign up for your free trial today, you won't regret it!