Teacher Features

Here we feature some of the wonderful piano teachers who offer the KeyNotes program; what did they do before starting groups? What do they love about teaching groups? And how has the KeyNotes program helped them? Thank you to those who have shared their experiences with us!

Amy Rochelle, Melbourne, Australia

Tell us about your teaching situation prior to joining the KeyNotes program

I had been teaching voice, piano and guitar at a few local primary schools and also in our music studio which I run with my partner. However, I hadn't really implemented anything in the studio and primarily was teaching private singing students and running the business side of things.

What did you want to achieve by adding groups to your setting and/or using the KeyNotes program?

We were already running guitar groups exclusively through out studio and guitar/voice/piano through our schools.

I was working a lot to manage everything and spent a lot of time lesson planning, as such, was hesitant to add an additional program into the studio, but I knew that there was a need for it.

When I saw the KeyNotes program I was interested to get involved to improve my overall teaching skills and learn more from experienced piano teachers.

After a few conversations with Melanie following a course I did, I decided to jump onboard with the program, Melanie was (and always is) super supportive, warm and encouraging. I loved her enthusiasm also!

What do you love about teaching groups? What are your highlights so far?

Honestly, my group classes are all just so fun. I've always loved delivering in a group setting - I love that the environment is inclusive of all students and supports a holistic approach for lessons while building social skills and resilience.

I think it offers a great experience for students and is also greatly beneficial to parents.

Finally, it means that I can expand more and include more students in the program than I could if it was just private lessons, there are less issues in finding availability for students.

How has the KeyNotes Music program most helped you in delivering your group piano lessons? What do you value most about the program?

The most beneficial thing for me has been saving SO much time in Lesson planning.

Melanie has built an amazing program which is completely supported which includes the curriculum but also lesson plans, practice sheets, supplementary materials for teachers and parents/students. There is also a teachers facebook group where we can all connect and get help if need or simply share ideas.

 

Tell us about your current set-up with groups. How many groups do you have? How many per class?

I currently teach 5 Storytellers groups from the studio and 6 Storytellers groups out of the primary schools. However, right now everything is being done online. There are between 6-8 students per group.

What has surprised you most about teaching groups? If you have already taught groups for a while, what has surprised you since you started using the KeyNotes program?

I think for this program in particular, I am in love with and surprised by how inclusive the program is for children and parents. I have had many teachers insist that a student should not be taking lessons if they don't have an acoustic piano and some students previously had been a little bit surprised when going to play a piece we have learned from a different method book at home and they didn't have enough keys on their home Keyboard.

KeyNotes curriculum is family friendly, budget friendly and inclusive - as long as you have a 61 note piano, you are able to work through and develop through the whole curriculum. I think this is very important in nurturing a love of music for children and parents and enabling more children to be included right from the start! I forgot to mention the composition at the end of the workbooks, I LOVE this and so do the kids.

Which trainings have you found most useful in the program?

All of the lesson plans and documents which are provided in the initial program as well as the online lesson plan explanation videos. But also the ongoing information which is shared in video format on the KeyNotes platform and also in the facebook group.

The ongoing support and feedback is always so helpful! The adaption to online lessons, support and materials which were provided so quickly under the covid-19 changes were incredible. The PowerPoint and Lesson Starters have been particularly amazing.

Would you recommend KeyNotes Music to other teachers? If so, why?

Yes, I definitely would, its a wonderful inclusive curriculum, Melanie is wonderful and supportive she continues to develop and grow the program and materials and this is a program that is ready to go from as soon as you join, there is pretty much nothing for you to do (however there is flexibility for you to adapt the lesson plans if you want to add in your own elements). The subscription price itself is a wonderful value!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you Melanie, you are simply amazing and I truly value the KeyNotes program and the dedication and commitment you have made to it and the teachers <3.

Emily Hilson, Hassocks, UK

Tell us about your teaching situation prior to joining the KeyNotes program

Monday - Friday mornings I did my Baby/Toddler/Preschool Music Group, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals, around Brighton and Hove. Monday - Friday afternoons I did (mainly) children's private piano lessons in their homes.

What did you want to achieve by adding groups to your setting and/or using the KeyNotes program?

I wanted to fill the gap from Aardvarks to starting piano lessons. A musical setting for after my Aardvarks went off to school and before I wanted to start private lessons.

What do you love about teaching groups? What are your highlights so far?

I love the interaction between the children. I love how every child brings a completely new dynamic to the class. I love duets and collaborating on ideas. I love the parents coming in for Watching Week and being so impressed and supportive.

Tell us about your current set-up with groups. How many groups do you have? How many per class?

Little KeyNotes: 2 classes Storytellers: 4 classes All with 5 kids in each. Although a few dropped off for Online. I'm sure we'll be back to these numbers when we are back in person.

 

What has surprised you most about teaching groups? If you have already taught groups for a while, what has surprised you since you started using the KeyNotes program?

I'm surprised how supportive the kids are to each other. Competitive but really supportive - clapping and saying nice things. I'm surprised I can actually juggle 5 kids learning in the same setting. As the only adult. (My Aardvarks have 15 kids - but with 15 parents attached to supervise!).

How has the KeyNotes Music program most helped you in delivering your group piano lessons? What do you value most about the program?

The support and resources and lesson plans from day one.

Would you recommend KeyNotes Music to other teachers? If so, why?

Yes! The syllabus is carefully put together to include not just reading notes, but so many musical elements - some are just slipped in without the children even knowing. It's such a lovely community of supportive teachers. Melanie is so responsive to any questions or concerns. And supports new ideas brought to the table. Or any new worksheets you'd like for your lessons - she'll just sort that out for you. I don't know where she finds the time - especially with 3 young children!

Anything else you'd like to add?

KeyNotes subscription is great value. There is so much on offer! It's the one monthly subscription I have for my piano teaching and I'm confident it is the only one I need. The rest, I can get for free.

Ellie Jaggers, Stewartby, UK

Tell us about your teaching situation prior to joining the KeyNotes program

I had previously been employed as a piano teacher at my local music service where I had been keyboard team leader. But I had become very disenfranchised by the politics of the service and I felt that I wasn't really allowed to just teach piano anymore - it was more of a tick boxing exercise than any musical learning. I left my job to become a stay at home mum and do some teaching on the side.

What did you want to achieve by adding groups to your setting and/or using the KeyNotes program?

I already had experience of teaching pairs and whole class groups (wider-ops) - as well as mixed level groups, but I hadn't found a method/programme/curriculum that did what I wanted it to do. I was following KeyNotes Music on facebook and really liked what I was seeing Melanie doing so I asked if I could get involved and teach it too.

What do you love about teaching groups? What are your highlights so far?

I LOVE teaching my groups - they make me smile every week. I love the communal learning and the peer support that I see in my groups. I love watching my students go through the steps and being able to do something they didn't think they would be able to do. I love having more time to actually get to know my students and to spend working on our listening skills and theory skills etc

Tell us about your current set-up with groups. How many groups do you have? How many per class?

I have four groups in total - I have a little keynotes class, a storytellers class and a foundation one class. I also have a group adult class too. I can have a maximum of 8 per class but at the moment my numbers are down due to Covid-19. I hope to rebuild them in September when hopefully I will be able to teach face to face again.

What has surprised you most about teaching groups? If you have already taught groups for a while, what has surprised you since you started using the KeyNotes program?

I was really worried about classroom management and the first term was a little chaotic but I have learned to embrace the chaos and actually they have settled down quite well. I love the cyclical nature of the syllabus and that I can add people to a group at anytime.

How has the KeyNotes Music program most helped you in delivering your group piano lessons? What do you value most about the program?

I love the cyclical nature of the curriculum. It doesn't matter if someone doesn't quite understand a concept the first time they come across it as we will cover it again in the next work book. It is wonderful being able to see that student progress and finally achieve what they struggled to do the first time. I love watching my students take their playing up to the next level and achieve the next challenge.

Which trainings have you found most useful within the KeyNotes program?

I loved all the information about setting up - I didn't have a clue about how to go about setting up my groups and without Melanie's help I don't think I could have done it. My self confidence was at an all time low and I didn't think I would have the ability to pull it off but with Melanie's help and guidance I managed to do it. I started with 2 groups and quickly added another 2!

Would you recommend KeyNotes Music to other teachers? If so, why?

Yes Yes Yes!!! I think it is wonderful!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you Melanie for creating KeyNotes!

Alex Brewerton, Brisbaine, Australia

Tell us about your teaching situation prior to joining the KeyNotes program

I had been teaching piano and theory privately to adults and children for 8 years, and working as an accompanist.

What did you want to achieve by adding groups to your setting and/or using the KeyNotes program?

Knowing how tough it is (and how long it takes!) for some kids to grasp the basics, I felt that Group would bring variety and make it more fun through the early stages. I also felt that exam-based private teaching was demotivating for most kids and not teaching a lot of the skills that kids today value so I thought that Group would encourage them to stay in lessons for longer so they could build this foundation. I also wanted to expand the reach of my lessons, to get more kids playing and show them that the piano is not just for the dedicated few that practise an hour a day, nor does it have to be a solo activity - everyone can enjoy it, participate in ensembles, play to backing tracks etc.

What do you love about teaching groups? What are your highlights so far?

That you can have different ages and abilities together. I'm still learning the ropes here and was worried about this aspect to begin with, but as it's turning out, it's one of the things I really enjoy about it. By teaching the same curriculum to a group of students, you get a very clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual - I don't know why - but somehow it brings this into focus more, more so than private lessons where EVERYTHING is tailored to the individual. The satisfaction for me comes from differentiation, helping the strugglers and stretching the more able kids - sometimes having to think of an alternative on the spot.

Tell us about your current set-up with groups. How many groups do you have? How many per class?

Pre-covid, I was teaching one afternoon a week on Saturday with 4 groups (1 LK and 3 Storytellers) 3 kids in Little KeyNotes then 5 in each of the other classes. Took a bit of bashing for Term 2, down to half numbers, so working back up now.

 

What has surprised you most about teaching groups? If you have already taught groups for a while, what has surprised you since you started using the KeyNotes program?

The one thing I really hadn't considered when I started out, was the value of ensemble-playing! It's SO good and teaches so many skills - it's where much of the joy lies in music-making, and let's face it, the kids need that more than ever at the beginning! The kids are so supportive of each other too, it's lovely to see.

How has the KeyNotes Music program most helped you in delivering your group piano lessons? What do you value most about the program?

The fact that it's all done for you - lesson plans, games, video tutorials, practise videos etc, yet it's still flexible enough for you to do your own thing if you want. What I most value, is its breadth. It's not just about piano, there is an emphasis on Listening (and I feel very strongly that kids need to be introduced to Classical music/all music and be taught how it is still relevant) as well as Composition.

Which trainings have you found most useful in the program?

Initially at set-up, everything. Ongoing, videos and feedback from yourself and other teachers, especially showing how to manage the class for different activities - Relay, group combinations (pairs/half and half etc) for teaching concepts or performing.... As a private teacher, this is not something I would automatically think of.

Would you recommend KeyNotes Music to other teachers? If so, why?

Yep. Because it's a high quality programme, pedagogically-sound and well sequenced, with excellent resources and support that just keeps growing!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Great job all round Melanie - your output and creativity are truly amazing! I have learnt so much in just one year:) Look forward to whatever comes next....