Announcing: Born to Deliver!

As I mentioned back in the spring, I’ve been working on another big project lately (for the past year and a half, actually!). Well…I’m excited to say that I can now officially announce that project! Many of you know about the first book that I published, Pajama School, several years ago. It was a very long, hard process that I had no intention of repeating. But God has a way of changing our minds, doesn’t He? 🙂

Through an amazing sequence of events, God crossed my path with that of Kathy Brace and gave us both a vision of reaching others, especially young women, who are struggling to find love, acceptance, and significance. After a year and a half of working on it, we have completed and will soon be publishing our book, Born to Deliver!

We are still doing the final layout and pre-production work, but the website is live and you can read the first chapter on-line. Kathy has an amazing story that I think has the potential to impact many people. I am excited to be a part of it, and wanted to share it with all of you as well! Hopefully the book will be released and you can read the whole thing in November. I’ll be sure to post an update when it’s ready to go!


Pursuit of Music Piano Camp is Underway!

Mornings in the studio this week are abuzz with activity as five high school students and I gather for a week of Piano Camp! Each year I try to do something different that specifically addresses the interests and/or needs of my students. Right now, I have quite a few high school students who are considering music as a long-term vocation or avocation. In light of that, I decided to offer Pursuit of Music, a week-long daily camp focusing on five specific areas:

  • Essential skills for every pianist
  • Developing and Implementing Entrepreneurial Ideas
  • How to Succeed and Make an Impact in the Professional World
  • How to Plan and Teach Musical Concepts to Others
  • Developing a Gospel-Centered Vision for Music

Preparation for Piano Camp is always a very time-consuming process, but it is so enriching to think more deeply about a variety of topics, explore new resources, learn new things, and plan out each day’s lesson. In the process of reading to prepare for tomorrow’s class, I came across this statement that I absolutely love:

“…what you do with your talent and how it affects the lives of others is more important than the aptitude itself.”

~David Cutler, The Savvy Musician, pp. 300

It’s Live!

It’s done! Hooray! My new studio website is now live! (If for some reason your browser shows my old site, just refresh the page.) I still have some areas that I want to improve a bit, but everything appears to be in working order and ready to go. I am so excited and look forward to keeping it updated throughout the year, especially with new videos and photos from our studio happenings. If you look over it and have any input or suggestions, please feel free to let me know!

A Peek Into My New Studio Website

One of my big projects this summer has been developing a new studio website. The old one has served me well, and was the impetus for me getting into web design in the first place. But it’s been sadly out-dated for quite a few years now, and I’ve been wanting to get a new one up and running. After a lot of thought, planning, and work, it’s exciting to be almost done with the new site!

Old Studio Website

I started the process by jotting down ideas in a blank notebook that I use for all sorts of random thinking and planning. My primary objectives were to make it inviting, informative, and inspiring. To make it inviting, I chose a color scheme that correlates with my business cards and also with the color scheme here on Music Matters Blog. To make it informative, I organized my studio policy into a collection of drop-down menus phrased as questions and also included a lot more pictures and aspects of what to expect as part of Natalie’s Piano Studio. To make it inspiring, I used a quote at the top of every page that has been instrumental in shaping my philosophy of life, music, and teaching. I also included more about my students and their various projects and pursuits.

New Studio Website

It was very helpful to refer to the following two web design-related posts by David Cutler on The Savvy Musician blog:

9 Reasons Most Websites Fail

Powerhouse Website Suggestions

Hopefully the whole site will be ready to launch next week! Remember, if you have a studio website you’d like to include on our studio website listing, just contact our Community Manager, Julia, to have your site added.

Understanding Students with Dyslexia

Ever since attending the fabulous MTNA workshop session, “The Inclusion of Students With Disabilities in the Music Studio” by Beth Bauer and Scott Price, I have been more intrigued by and eager to learn about teaching students with disabilities. I have had students with various disabilities and learning difficulties over the years, but I have mostly learned by trial and error (and lots of helpful input from the parents!). I’m hoping now to make more of a concerted effort to educate myself so that I can more effectively work with special needs students in the future.

I was reading through the transcripts of a series of interviews with Susan Barton, founder of the Barton Reading and Spelling System, based on the Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Method. Susan gives listeners/readers helpful tips for diagnosing dyslexia early on, and shares insights for working with those students. I love this observation that she makes:

“Children with dyslexia have a different brain structure. Their right hemisphere is actually larger than most people’s, and they have different nerve pathways in the language processing part of their brain. And I love to share with people that their right hemisphere is larger than most people’s, because it explains why they’re so gifted in skills controlled by the right side of their brain. So yes they struggle with reading, writing, spelling, but they’ll be better than their peers in either artistic ability, athletic ability, music, mechanical ability. Their people skills are outstanding. Superb three-dimensional visual-spatial skills, a vivid imagination, an incredibly accurate sense of intuition. And the most creative, global thinkers you’ve ever seen.”

I think it’s super exciting as a piano teacher to work with students like this and help them develop their musical talents! The important thing is not to box them into a traditional reading-based approach to learning to play piano, but to develop a method that taps into their innate musical strengths. This is one of the reasons why I am working a lot on developing my own improvisation skills and incorporating more music-making [sans reading] into each lesson.

Delight-Directed Piano Lessons

As part of both the home education community and the music education community, I have benefited from a wide variety of teaching philosophies and resources. I love reading and learning from dedicated educators, and considering how I can implement their ideas in my own teaching.

Yesterday, I came across a brief, but insightful, article by J. Michael Smith, president of the homeschool organization, HSLDA. The article is titled, How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout, and particularly encourages parents to use a “delight-directed learning” approach to keep education fun for children and parents alike. I especially appreciated these statements:

“I’m not saying that you should avoid a rigorous academic program with your students. Just don’t pursue it to the point of jeopardizing your ultimate goals.”

“If you’re feeling burned out, change course, relax, and make learning fun for all—including you!”

>>Read the rest of the article for more>>

These are a couple of things that I am striving for as a piano teacher. I haven’t been blogging as much this summer, but I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about what my goals are, what my students’ goals are, and how we can work together to achieve great success musically. I love the idea of delight-directed piano lessons! I also know, though, that to be successful as a musician, a great deal of discipline is required. It won’t always seem fun, but the end results will be so worth it! In light of that, my biggest challenge to myself in developing a practice incentive theme and lesson approach for next year is this:

To make it more desirable (and delightful!) to practice than to not practice.

How can we achieve this as teachers? That is the question. 🙂

It’s Ready! An Italian Intrigue Practice Incentive Theme Package is Available and You Could Win a Complete Set of Studio Decor!

Thank you for your patience as I finished putting together the complete package from our studio practice incentive theme this year: An Italian Intrigue!

If you are looking for a fun practice incentive theme to use in your studio next fall, this travel-themed adventure will capture your students’ enthusiasm! They will become better acquainted with the geography of that land, see some of the world’s oldest architectural structures, learn a bit of history, and experience a taste of Italian culture – all while learning to play beautifully, naturally, and excellently.

And…for the best news, you could win a complete set of studio decor and supplies to use in your studio! Everyone who purchases An Italian Intrigue practice incentive theme package between now and Thursday, July 19, will be entered in a drawing to win the following materials: a 24″x30″ Italy wall map, printed photo clues of the mystery musicians, a set of Free Travel Passes, and a bag of 600+ Complication Coins!