Friday Round Up

September 26, 2014
  • Local composer James Holdman is in Istanbul for the fall to study middle-eastern music, and is recording live Turkish music and is blogging about it here
  • Nicely designed tuner and metronome app Tunable is free for a short time on the app store. 
  • 4-Early Year Keys for Effective Classroom Management from Edutopia
  • If you feel like you don't need to practice, just check out the video below...

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Things I Learned During my First Year at MacPhail

July 21, 2014

By Julia Reeves

1.   In order to be an effective teacher and survive my first year, I need to be flexible and resilient. I think this has become my mantra for working in partnerships. The concept of control is one I struggled with a great deal when I first walked into a classroom, because I had zero (count it: zero) classroom management skills. Learning to lighten up and go with the flow was really important in helping me see  students as people, not things to be taught.

2.   The best way to learn how to teach is to teach alongside other teachers.

3.   Atti…

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Building a Studio Website & Managing Your Schedule Online

July 11, 2014

This presentation was delivered by MacPhail faculty member, Beatrice Blanc, on July 9, 2014.

Video of the presentation is posted below. Click here for a PDF of the accompanying PowerPoint.

In the first part of her presentation Beatrice talked about building a website for her Suzuki violin studio; the second part (starting at 17:57 in the video below) dealt with online schedule management.

If you have questions, feel free to email Beatrice at Also, remember that MacPhail's team of Tech Mentors are available to provide tech-related assistance to MacPhail faculty…

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Strategies for Consistent Practicing

May 21, 2014

Notes from Nancy Daley's presentation to Suzuki faculty on consistent practicing.


1. Get daily practice and listening topic out in the open! First lesson of Fall, I tell them what I expect

2. Don't ask amount of time because I just want to encourage regular practice. I really stress that even if they only have a bit of time, they can do do something productive. I talk about how I will set my timer and pick out something that I can accomplish in that amount of time. Nancy Pederson used to have them make a list of things they can practice well in 10 min…

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Percussion Pedagogy Notes

May 10, 2014

by David Birrow

We set a world record the other day by getting 9 MacPhail percussion faculty in the same room at the same time. It was exciting to talk with other percussionists about teaching. Here are a couple notes which came up during the meeting and may be useful for other instruments as well. 

Only using part of method books:

This was a huge relief when Bob Adney shared that he only uses the reading exercises and 4-mallet material from Mitchell Peters mallet book. I feel like I have been given permission to tell my students the same.






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Video Game Design and Music Education Part 1

April 21, 2014

by David Birrow

Here is a quick summary from Friday's Idea Exchange session about what video game design can teach us about music Education. This session will be repeated: Wednesday, May 14th, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. in Room 607

Why are games addictive:

  • They give multiple layers of objective feedback that range from granular to sustained competence to career
  • They appeal directly to our psychology needs for: Competency, Autonomy, and Relatedness

Why  games are good places for learning:

  • They let you try on different identities and make meaningful choices …

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Incredible Music Teaching Apps for iPad

March 29, 2014

by Jeremy Hanson

Here are some apps for iPad that I use when teaching. If it is too small to read, click on the icon. You can also download the pdf here

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Suzuki Faculty Meeting

March 19, 2014

by Kamini LaRusso

On  Tuesday, March 4, 2014, Suzuki Violin Teacher, Susan Crawford, presented her ideas on working with older students who practice independently.  She mentioned that teachers often tell students what to do, rather than teaching the student to self reflect. Susan's system develops an objective observer, that is the student has to analyze and listen in the moment to what they have just played. Susan shared her routine of developing the Objective Observer in her students via five pieces of a pie (tone, rhythm, intonation, expression(subjective and obje…

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Creating a Studio Newsletter with MailChimp

March 4, 2014

by David Birrow

One  idea that intrigued me from Philip Johnston's book The Dynamic Studio was sending out a monthly studio newsletter.Probably not a revelation, since I'm sure many of you already do this in one form or another, but I thought it'd be great to share more information with parents.

One of my goals was to help create more context for percussion lessons so students and parents could better understand the entire eco-system that is related to being a studying musician. But to be honest, I wanted students to practice more and not miss the occasional lesson because they were unsu…

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Friday Round Up

February 21, 2014

Not music related, but certainly the best thing the internet has given us this year so far. Absolutely worth watching in its entirety and full screen:



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Two Part Question

February 12, 2014

by David Birrow

This post is a 2-part open ended question about private lesson curriculum.

Part I: Among other things, two of my main goals when teaching are:

  1.  to have the instruction and content be relevant to the student's musical life
  2.  to make sure the student learns the stuff that I wish I knew when I was their age

But often it seems that these two goals conflict with each other. For instance, high school students seem to have constant auditions for band placement, marching band, M.Y.S., solo and ensemble, all-state, and the list goes on.  I want to he…

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Steady Beat at Every Age

January 31, 2014

by Sarah Hruska-Olson

During my early experiences sharing music with young children, I was surprised by the rhythmic way infants responded to my singing and guitar playing.  Babies who could not yet walk or crawl would bounce up and down or move their arms rhythmically.  As our in-house Early Childhood Music expert, Cheryl Henningsgaard points out; this should have come as no surprise.  She explains:

 “Music begins prenatally. It is the steady beat of the maternal heartbeat that develops the human condition for musical aptitude (Gordon, 1990) … The maternal en…

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