My Top 5 Apps for Teaching
ToDoist: keep track of tasks, top priorities, projects and ideas
Calm: save your sanity through breathing, meditation and calming music
CamScanner+: scan, print and edit high res copies of anything from your phone
MileIQ: automatically track and sort your drives so you can save on your taxes
ForScore: organize and store your music library on a tablet to save room in your bag
I think most of us can hardly believe summer is over and it's time to schedule lessons for the fall but here we are. This can be a hectic time (goodbye Netflix and summer sleep schedule, hello alarm clock) but it's also the perfect moment to get your studio plan in place for the next school year so your schedule can run as smoothly as possible. I've gathered some of my favorite apps and private studio productivity hacks acquired through years of teaching into one place. I've also created some shareable templates that you are welcome to copy and repurpose for your own studio!
Each year I update my Studio Policies and have parents sign them to register or re-enroll in lessons. By revisiting this annually, I can get everyone on the same page regarding expectations and prevent headaches and miscommunications down the line. This year I used HelloSign to have parents electronically submit their forms. My policies are quite extensive and have been amended each year to address any issues or confusion I have encountered. My version may have quite a bit of information you don't need, so I've created an editable template here. Download the Studio Policies Template.
Included with my Studio Policies, I also create a Studio Calendar of all of the weeks I plan on teaching lessons. I try to take into account my own needs (vacation, conferences) and anticipate students' conflicts (holidays, testing weeks). I want to get as information on the calendar up front as possible and then print a copy for each student. I also update the calendar posted on my website throughout the year. Download the Studio Calendar Template.
Lesson Invoicing & Scheduling
I have been using MyMusicStaff for years now to track expenses, process payments, assign repertoire and schedule and invoice lessons. If I could choose one tool that has saved my sanity, this would be it! The $13 monthly fee is well worth it and is tax-deductible. I know private lesson teachers often have a hard time "spending money to make money" but the more streamlined your processes are, the more you can teach and the better you can track your income to avoid late payments, missed opportunities and other loss of revenue. In my opinion, it pays for itself.
If you'd like to see some of the features of a MyMusicStaff Studio I've created a Test Parent Login. Login HERE with Username: firstname.lastname@example.org Password: makemusicaustin
Curriculum & Music Management
Google Sheets: I created this curriculum outline to guide my lesson planning throughout the year. I deviate from it as needed, but it's helpful to have a baseline set of objectives for each year and the links to curriculum make it easy for me to select solos in the Spring. Here's a template you can use for your own curriculum.
ForScore: I love this app for organizing music on my iPad. Instead of carrying books and loose sheet music around, almost all of my music is stored in this app (and Google Drive). Each year I create a set list for every grade level with the music corresponding to the curriculum.
Lesson Assignments & Tracking
This year for the first time, I created a thin lesson book to contain lesson assignments and scale pages. In previous years, I used individual lesson assignment pages then a simplified assignment tracking sheet printed on bright card stock. I found that the simpler version is more effective and takes less time to update. I prefer to assign 1 scale and 2 clear objectives each week. I also add notes to the student's MyMusicStaff account if needed, and can easily email those to the parents.
Productivity Apps & Sites
ToDoist: This site and app for tracking tasks is my lifeline. It contains all of my tasks, projects (short and long term), ideas, shopping lists and more. I also use it to track reed orders.
Evernote: Site and app accessible via any device for taking notes on the go. I also use it to draft class outlines and take meeting notes.
MileIQ: App for tracking mileage so you can deduct it from your taxes! It has automatic tracking and you can easily separate business and personal drives with a swipe.
Calm: Site and app for meditation, music and calming sounds to keep me sane throughout the day. Great background noise for when you're stuck at school or in your car between lessons.
CamScanner+: App for scanning that cleans up and saves documents. I use this mostly to scan music on the go and upload high quality copies to Google Drive, print or share with others.
Google Sheets: I track reed orders, my lesson schedule and more with google sheets. If you have an apple device, you can save frequently used sheets to your home page.
Google Forms: Great for surveying your students, doing inventory and collecting information.
Breathe+: Great app for practicing breathing with customizable counts and beautiful visuals. This app works for both practicing breathing and helping students manage anxiety during audition season.
Scales: Want to test your students on their scales? Set the parameters you want with this app and it will pick a random scale for them to play.
Tonal Energy: Popular metronome/tuner app with drone and recording capabilities. The students often enjoy trying to get the big green smiley face.
I created this website a few years ago using Squarespace and it has been a fantastic resource for my studio. The site was incredibly easy to set up with tons of available templates and simple drag and drop content. Your studio website should provide new students and parents with important information as well as current students with the documents they need and access to a studio account.
If you don't know where to start, imagine what you want your menu bar to look like and what your most important pages will be then work your way down the list. Even if you just need a page for a bio, new student info and a gallery that's plenty to start! Having a website saves me a lot of time answering redundant questions (since I can send links to information such as supply lists, policies, and calendars) and allows new families to easily find and engage with me online.