Monday, August 26, 2013

Ten Years of Technology in the Piano Studio

The upcoming school year is a milestone for my studio. It marks twenty years since completing my Masters degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy and setting up my first piano studio. For me that's where I start counting my years of professional teaching experience.

I used to joke that my first cat had sat in on well over 20,000 piano lessons and still she couldn't play like Nora.

Twenty years ago I was excited to have 4 fonts on my little MacSE30 and I could make primitive rhythm flash cards if I combined circles and lines. I had no email contact with family or friends while at university and there was no Pinterest to find inspiration for teaching aids. When you cut and pasted it really meant with scissors and glue.

In my mind, it has been the past ten years that have been truly amazing for piano teachers. Just stop and think about technology in the past decade and how it has impacted our piano studios.

Hope you don't mind letting me indulge in my personal trip through history:


I hired someone to build a website for my piano studio. I had to spend about $1000 to have that website built...that's just what it cost 10 years ago! I was also self-publishing Music Discoveries, which is another story altogether. There were no digital downloads and there was no Paypal (or at least people were generally not comfortable with PayPal yet)...imagine!


I bought my first songs from iTunes. Yes, I'll tell you what they were! "What You Waiting For?" by Gwen Stefani, "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" by Smash Mouth and "100 Years" by Five For Fighting.


I remember a day in 2006 when a friend came over to look at some photos on my computer. She said, "Anne what's that noise?". Until then it hadn't occurred to me that PCs are not supposed to sound like lawnmowers. Not long after that I bought my first iMac...that was a game changer!


I learned Dreamweaver (for building websites), Flash (for animation), Illustrator (for graphics) and Photoshop (for photo editing). With that arsenal of tools I was set to start building and taking control of my own websites. My piano parents know how many redesigns has been through. HMTL became my sandbox and the best way to learn is to play.


I started uploading movies to YouTube. My students are always speechless when I remind them that YouTube has only been around since 2005 and the quality was pretty weak in the beginning. YouTube has become an exciting way to share student videos with families. Of course, YouTube is the place to go to learn how to do most anything these days. With an endless supply of tutorials and concerts, YouTube has made a huge impact on my day to day teaching (and learning).


Piano Discoveries! This was a very creative year and my philosophy was "create and share freely". My new website was a massive project and pushed my limits of creating teaching material with every multimedia tool I knew. This was an exciting time when I really began to connect with a larger community of piano teachers.


What they heck is a blog? It was probably in 2010 when I first bumped into sites like Compose Create, Color in My Piano and of course Susan Paradis' Teaching Aids. And I'll admit it, I was so confused. I didn't understand why they were different every time I visited. My experience was with static websites and it hadn't occurred to me that one could present and organize material in a blog. Another game changer!

This is also the year I got my first iPad so it was exciting to be one of the first piano teaching bloggers to start sharing apps and creative resources for making use of the ipad in the piano studio.


I decided to start my Pianoanne Blog to share tips, resources and ideas for piano teachers. At the time, I was studying for two piano pedagogy exams so I used my blog to reflect and share my studies. I think my goal was to post everyday for a month. I figured if people are going to follow my blog I'm going to need some content.

I started making use of Dropbox this year. When I was sharing teaching aids on my blog it was easy to store the pdf in Dropbox and just share the link. Likewise, it became easier to deliver studio newsletters. Some families had computers that rejected emailed pdf attachments, so now I just send a link to the newsletter in Dropbox.

And then there's Facebook. I avoided Facebook for as long as I could and finally got a Pianoanne Facebook page in 2011, deleted it, then got it back. Show of many people have delete their Facebook accounts and then take them back?


Pinterest was first launched in 2010 and I started pinning in 2012. From a user's point of view Pinterest is a brilliant way to collect and organize all the bright ideas that are out there. From a blogger's perspective it has made a major impact on how we create images for our sites. Peep if you love Pinterest.


This year I brought SoundCloud into my studio. SoundCloud has been a wonderful way to share mp3s with my students. Sometimes these are quick little practice recordings and sometimes it's a best performance, but SoundCloud makes it easy to share. I love that I can group my entire studio into a set and share it on my studio website pages. It's also a great practice tool; when my students were practicing for the Crazy Combo concert I sent them slow practice recordings on SoundCloud so they could play along with their virtual partners at home.

It's amazing isn't it? And the list could go on with ipad apps, notation software and recording tools. Take a minute to think about the impact technology has made in your studio in recent years.

I feel so grateful to have had these past ten years to celebrate technology in the studio and I'm grateful for the ten years before to help me appreciate how far we have come. Thanks to my husband who has always encouraged me to dance around in multimedia and comes to the rescue when there are just too many cables. I wonder what's going to be next?


  1. You know, you are the reason I have tried many new tech things. Thanks for an overview.

  2. I loved seeing your timeline! Isn't technology grand? ;)

    1. It's interesting to take a step back and look at the big picture every once in awhile. Your technology timeline would be fun to see!

  3. Thanks for sharing! =) What a journey!

    This is my first year using more of technology. Started using garageband, then recently learning to send out great-looking newsletters, and now building my first website this year so it has been exciting!

    1. Hi Drema, sounds like a wonderful group of accomplishments. It's all very rewarding isn't it? Happy teaching, Anne.

  4. Congratulations! What a wonderful journey and learning curve. I'm so grateful you have shared your many talents/music resources with me and my students. I'm the lucky one and so blessed to meet you... thanks, Anne!

    1. Yes, I suppose there is a learning curve. But you just add these things little by little over the years. It's fun to look back isn't it? Have a great year!

  5. How fun to review the journey!

    I have a question. What program do you use to make your flash cards and your bigger notes for your fun games. You've inspired me to come up with some fun ideas for rhythms and various activities for the ipad, but can't seem to find the program that will let me do just notes with no staff (like with your Halloween rhythms)or a single note with staff (like flash cards) or even just a simple staff with a few notes (like on your line-space notes).

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for leaving a note. The trick for making rhythm activities is to use a music font in a drawing program. Check out Joy's post at Color in my Piano: Sometimes I use Pages and sometimes Adobe Illustrator for my activities, or when I had a PC I would have used Publisher. Joy's list of music fonts will get you going. Good luck!

    2. how wonderful! My mind can't stop thinking of great ideas. I hope I get some sleep tonight!

  6. This post was very encouraging! Having just finished a MM in Performance and Pedagogy and starting a studio for the very first time, it is nice to be reminded that I don't have to do everything all at once! However, I find myself using your great ideas so frequently. Thanks so much for your great contributions.

    1. Congrats on your sparkly new Masters degree. Starting a new studio is very exciting and there are so many good resources from teachers who have useful tips and suggestions. You're right, you can't do it all at once and you'll discover your own way of doing things from year to year. Enjoy the journey!

  7. Hi Anne, what would be the best way to record piano music into a CD? I would like to do this for my students this year, but am overwhelmed with the options.. I have a pc, ipad and garageband, a P120 that I can record into a USB.


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