Monday, August 13, 2018

Piano Bench Magazine Features Let's Play Music

It's always a great day when Let's Play Music teachers get to share the reasons why we love LPM with music educators who haven't heard of us before.  So, we were thrilled when Piano Bench Magazine featured us in the July, 2018 issue!

If you're a piano teacher, Piano Bench Magazine is a great resource for ideas, tips, and up-to-date news to help you succeed in every way.

You can get the July 2018 issue, and other issues, at this link. But if you're wondering what I wanted to tell the world's piano teachers about Let's Play Music, here's the entire message:

Every Piano Dilemma Solved

As a teacher, I’m on the prowl for methods and techniques that will really help my business blossom and increase my income. I’m also constantly looking to glean ideas for improving the quality and outcomes of my program. So, imagine the glorious day over a decade ago when I discovered an elusive gem that solved EVERY piano dilemma: I present to you Let’s Play Music.

Let’s Play Music is a group class taught from a national 3-year curriculum, so let me start with that. Am I the only teacher who wondered how I could pay my mortgage with music lessons?

Teachers Eat, Too

With group classes, the student’s fee is $400- $600/ 30 weeks (depending on regional rates), and I have 6-8 students in each 45 minute class.  My first year teaching Let’s Play Music, I had 2 classes weekly, but in my most booming years of teaching, I swelled to 20 classes/week.  Instead of having 40 total private students in my 20 hours, I had 140 students in the same 20 hours. Dilemma solved. Know what else I recognized? The students love group classes. We have a spirit of fun collaboration. Kids learn better in the group! And everyone wants to join this group!

Balance Your Time

For those of you have 40 (or 140) students, you’re still wishing to give every student a carefully crafted, well-prepared, multi-faceted lesson every week. Oh, and it would be great if everything were taught through a clever game instead of a boring lecture. I know that’s what I dream of, but where can I find the prep time for all of that?

Enter the lesson plans provided by Let’s Play Music: Every lesson has been taught thousands of times, refined to provide both repetition and progress of new concepts all presented through GAMES and active fun. I never spend hours scouring the web looking for ways to make concepts fun. I flip open my manual (with the lessons planned to the minute) and I know my students will get 45 minutes PACKED with fast-paced, non-stop games. I prep my supplies and post a list of the activities and I’m ready for classes with minimal prep. Dilemma solved! A class cannot be this amazing without many people testing and refining it. I’m so relieved I don’t have to go it alone - I have the BEST lessons handed to me every week, and YES there is still room for me to add my personality and my twist when I want to.

Start Them Young

So, what about young students? I understand the sensitivity of young ears and minds; I want four- and five-year-olds to be ear training with chord progressions and relative pitch and melodic patterns and rhythm. I’ve read the studies on the importance of foundational music skills and I don’t want to waste these precious early years when kids intuitively absorb the concepts.  

I know they can be taught to understand how notes on a staff work, but their fingers are not ready for piano and they get bored if I make them sit for more than five minutes. What can I do with these young ones, when a 30-minute lesson on a bench would be a disaster? Let’s Play Music!

This is a 3-year program DESIGNED for students who start at age 4 or 5. Everything is skipping, clapping, puppetry, and games...or so the students would tell you. We have them reading melodic patterns, singing on pitch, using solfege, and playing chord progressions on an autoharp (AHA! No dexterity required!) all in the first few weeks.

We give them a whole YEAR of singing/ ear/ brain training with the autoharp and tone bells before they go on the piano...and then they are SO successful. Recruiting tip: Let’s Play Music  is the ONLY piano/musicianship program I can feel good sending a young one to. Dilemma solved! I’m never giving a 4-year-old a private lesson; it feels like a waste in comparison.

Way More than Piano Alone

But I care so much about REAL musicianship. I don’t want to leave anything out. It seems like no matter which lesson books I follow with piano students, I still need to supplement to cover composition and listening and ear-training. How can I make that work?

VOILA! Let’s Play Music includes classical music study, composition, dictation, ear training (chord progressions, intervals, melodic patterns, etc.), vocal training/ pitch matching/ singing, note reading, solfege, sight-reading, and more. YES, all through active, fun play.

I LOVE the days when my 4-year old classes (with no music playing) belt out the entire Verdi’s Triumphant March because they love it so much.

I LOVE the days when I give my 5-year-old students (who’ve been using pianos for 6 months) a song like “Old MacDonald” and tell them to choose chords for an accompaniment and then write them correctly in the bass clef.  

I LOVE the days when my 6-year-old students play two-handed on piano and can transpose between the keys of C, F, and G in a single song.

I LOVE the final recital when they perform their OWN complete piece (yes, for both hands and with ABA form and usually harmonized with I, IV, V, chords and complex rhythms and melodies.)  

MIND BLOWN and Dilemma Solved! I no longer worry that ANYTHING is missing from the Let’s Play Music curriculum. These students (and vicariously their parents) are getting the best musical training I can ever hope to provide.

By the way, please visit the blog and see videos of the fantastic compositions from students this year, or read dozens of articles explaining everything we do in Let’s Play Music.

Okay, there is one big downside to Let’s Play Music… it ends. After 3 years (and an optional 4th bridge year), students graduate and hate to leave. You can choose to keep those 7-year-olds as private students and move them into your favorite piano lesson series, or you can send them on to other local piano teachers who will ADORE you for giving them prepared, ready-to-work students who can hear, improvise, and create! Students also go on to a multitude of other instruments and excel thanks to the amazing foundation provided by Let’s Play Music.

Please Share the Love

Will you consider joining the circle of piano excellence? Provide a fantastic foundation for many  4-year-olds of your city, then pass them on into the loving arms of excited private teachers. (or keep them! You choose!)

I’ve been teaching Let’s Play Music since 2006 and it has been a tremendous blessing for me, my husband, and our four children. That was my final dilemma...I wanted the VERY BEST for my own children. Dilemma solved! As a pure bonus, I have extreme fun playing in every class. I have never had such fun doing “work”.

Gina Weibel, M.S. is a teacher on Bainbridge Island, WA, and blogger for Let’s Play Music. She also teaches Sound Beginnings for preschoolers and a variety of other classes.

Learn more about Let’s Play Music and how you can become a teacher at our website:

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