Category Archives: Teaching Business

A Simple Guide to Teach Major Scales Without a Book

A simple step-by-step start to major scales

Click here for the special price

I am excited to share with you a special offer on a simple guide to teach major scales without a book taught by the outstanding pedagogy teacher, Elizabeth Gutierrez. She is extending this offer to my followers, for a special price before it goes live to the public.

This course was originally part of the 2017 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers, so if you have purchased the 2017  bundle in the past, you already have this. But for those of you who didn’t, and are not able to attend PCPT in person, it is now available as a stand alone class for only $37.00 for a limited time. Included with the price is lifetime access to it across all your devices. Plus, Elizabeth is adding a couple of more modules of additional help.

Course Description

Why wait until students can read a scale book and understand key signatures before starting scales? You can start students easily with scales once they know steps and skips at the keyboard. Elizabeth shares a tried and true method for introducing scales in a highly visual, auditory, and kinesthetic manner to confirm understand of all 12 major scales in just a few weeks! All without a book! When students are finished with this system, they will be able to move easily into playing one octave scales with the traditional fingerings.

The course contains a video lesson plus 4 PDF handouts.

Course Enhancements Coming Soon

  • A week-to-week assignment plan for an average age beginners so you will have a better idea of how to progress from week to week.
  • A video of an actual student performing scales


Elizabeth’s system will get your primer-level students (any age, even 4-5 year olds) started on scales in a very straightforward, understanding way. No more waiting until method books introduce scales. She begins this step-by-step teaching plan when students have demonstrated a good grasp of steps vs. skips on the keyboard and on the staff.

This system works beautifully for beginners of all ages and it’s especially helpful for teaching transfer students who need serious review or who have never learned scales at all. The reason it can be used with pre-schoolers who have learned whole and half steps, is because it is all on the keyboard, without a book!

If you are an adult who always wanted to learn some music theory, you can enroll in this program and guide yourself along quite easily. 

Home school parents who have some background in music will learn how to teach their students scales in all the keys. Once students are finished with this two-hand method, it will be easy to move into key signatures and the circle of fifths. It will help students who want to learn how to play with church groups or take theory exams.

Access this course anytime, on demand, across all your devices. All the PDF handouts are downloadable so you can use them again and again with your students.

The good news: You get the pre-launch price of $37.00! Hooray!

The bad news: You have to grab this before Sunday, Feb. 18 at midnight Central time.

About Elizabeth

Founder ELIZABETH GUTIERREZ began Piano Camp for Piano Teachers in 2009 as an extension of her instructional blog for piano teachers. She has years of experience teaching piano, piano pedagogy, and piano literature to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has given numerous workshops and master classes to working independent teachers around the globe both in person and via livestream on Facebook and Periscope and also as a national clinician for Faber Piano Adventures. For her workshops and online courses, she draws on her extensive background as an independent teacher, professor, performer, and composer/editor/author.

Filed under Elementary Music, Preschool Music Resources, Teaching Aids, Teaching Business, Texas State Theory Test

Throwback Thursday: Keyboard Labels for Scale Fingerings

One Octave Keyboard Labels

One Octave Keyboard Labels

[This was originally posted Oct. 2009. The file is updated with new keyboards that are slightly larger and are different colors. I suggest you use Avery™ #55160 “repositional” address labels if you plan on using these in an assignment book. That is what I use, because I find I can remove them easily and put them on a new page, which saves time and money!]

The other day I was drawing a tiny keyboard on my younger student’s assignment book and I had her draw dots on the correct keys. As we worked together looking for whole and half steps,  I casually said that my drawing was kind of sloppy, and it would be a lot easier to read and more fun if I had some keyboard stickers. So I sat down at my computer and designed some!  Actually they were easy to make because I’ve been designing my own labels for years. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this, so for your whole and half step pleasure, I’m offering  Keyboard Labels.  Please let me know what you think!

Filed under Picture Scales, Steps and Skips, Teaching Business, Theory

Change Things Around This Year

Change Things Around

Do you ever get tired of the same old thing and want to shake up the routine a bit? Or have you heard how other teachers do things, but are not exactly sure how it works? Today I am sharing some ideas to make your studio more responsive to your students’ needs and reduce the time you have to spend on the “business” end, so you will have more time to spend on music and teaching.

However, before you make any big changes in your studio, give your parents plenty of notice. That is why I am posting this in January and not July. You need time to think it through, write and re-write policy sheets, and finally inform parents BEFORE they sign up for fall lessons. If you make plans now, you can have everything set up for lesson sign-up in April. Yes, I said April!

Begin Lesson Sign-Up in the Spring

Teachers have told me they can’t make out their schedule until August, after parents know when soccer, scouts, choir, drill team, and 4H club is going to meet. My students sign up for piano first, in April, and they are very busy students. Why shouldn’t piano be the first thing parents schedule? Sometimes, but rarely, a conflict turns up in August or September and I have to find a student to switch with. Parents keep their time slot from year to year. Say good-bye to the summer-time schedule crunch forever!  Yes, you will need to require a deposit by April 30, but it can be refundable if it turns out there is an impossible conflict. I remember going to a sports meeting and the coach said they could practice Monday or Tuesday. One parent spoke up that Monday was scouts, so they decided on Tuesday. If one day is as good as the next, it might as well not be their piano day.

Online, Credit Card Payments

If collecting payments drives you crazy, a recurring PayPal payment may be your best friend. Yes, there is a fee but think about how nice it would be to never have a late payment again! [Or parents can pay you on their mobile device with Venmo, and there is no service charge!] Another idea is to ask parents to set up an electronic payment with their bank. At some banks it is free.

Mobile Deposits

If you receive monthly checks and have a smart phone, then “mobile deposit” is the way to go!  Once you set it up, all you do is take a picture of the check you want to deposit and it mysteriously shows up in your bank account. No more driving to the bank with a bunch of checks!

A Semester Discount

Paying by the semester saves everyone a lot of work. To encourage parents to pay by the semester, give a discount. Or raise tuition slightly for monthly rates. It is more work to deal with more frequent payments, so it is fair to have lower rates for semester payments. Paying by the semester may not be something your parents can swing, especially if you teach siblings, but some might surprise you and happily opt-in if it’s cheaper.

All Inclusive Books and Materials

By that, I mean parents give you one payment before lessons start to cover all their books and printing charges for the year or term. At some point I grew really tired of keeping lists with the cost of books and material and my parents hated being nickel-and-dimed to death. Music schools usually have a material fee for that purpose so I switched over to that. If you have a large studio, writing down every $6.99 and $2.99 for each student gets old quick. It’s been a real parent pleaser, too.

Overlap Your Lessons

Overlapping lessons is a great way to get the best of both private and group lessons. Many years ago I tried this in my studio so that I would have more time to work on theory. I asked my first student to stay 10 minutes later and the next student to come 10 minutes earlier. It gave us time to have some hands on learning, play some theory games, and even work on duets together.  It takes more work to make sure you have activities planned, and you have to be organized and able to stay on a strict schedule, so it’s not going to work for every teacher. This kind of schedule can be a little confusing, so I “made up” one below with a 10 minute overlap just as an example.  The beauty of this schedule is you are teaching the same amount of hours, but students are getting more of your time. Some teachers charge a bit more because you need more planning time. One suggestion is to try it with a few students for limited time to see how it works. Most students love getting to know other students in your studio. 

You might not think any of these ideas are right for your studio. We all have different communities, traditions, and expectations. But it’s always good to be exposed to different ideas, and maybe you’ve been considering some of these ideas yourself. Just remember to plan ahead, inform parents way in advance, then give it a try.


Filed under Teaching Business, Theory

PopCorn Snowman Christmas Gift

Popcorn Snowman Christmas Gift

PopCorn Snowman

This microwave popcorn snowman is a fun and easy gift for your students. I don’t know about your family, but mine were forever losing their gloves, so I always had a supply in my coat closet.

I made this craft for less than the cost of a nice-sized candy bar from the grocery store! I’m not sure where I first saw the idea, maybe Pinterest, and I thought it was so cute that I used it for piano student gifts one year.

All you have to do is print and then cut out the snowman face. (Your students might notice it is the same snowman I drew for the snowman bingo game I posted last week!) Each snowman uses one individual package of microwave popcorn, and I bought mine at a discount store. Cut out the snowman PDF posted above, and wrap it around the popcorn package. I taped the back with double-sided tape but you can use any tape or glue.

The “hat” for the snowman is a pair of stretch, one-size-fits-all gloves that I bought at a dollar store. Take one glove and stuff it into the other, then use colored ribbon to tie the fingers together to look like the top of a stocking hat. Puff out the inside glove to make it look more like a stocking hat. My older teens liked the black colored gloves, and I also used blue, pink, and green.

That’s it, the easiest craft ever.

When I gave these to my students, one little guy looked up with real big eyes and asked me where I bought the glove. He solemnly told me he needed to know so that his mother could take him to the store and buy a glove for the other hand! So be sure and tell your students the other glove is stuffed inside! Even my older students were surprised to find out the hat wasn’t just a decoration! I wish I could remember all the cute things my students have said over the years!

Filed under Christmas, Teaching Aids, Teaching Business