Keeping an organized piano studio is a big job.
Every musician is familiar with the stacks of sheet music that seem to multiply.
And the papers that get scattered and mixed in with the sheet music.
I seem to walk a fine line between organization and chaos, so when I find something that helps me be a little more organized, I stick with it.
Since moving my studio to our new location last year, I’ve discovered a few key organizational strategies that have been game changers. Not only do they help me feel more organized, they also streamline my teaching and help me to be more productive.
Here are the latest organizational additions to my piano studio.
These ledge shelves have to be the most obvious improvement to my studio. They have *almost* completely eliminated the endless stacks of music that seem to pile up. They come as a set of 4 and are almost 4 feet long, so they fill the space above a piano nicely.
Although I keep my full sheet music library on more traditional bookshelves in my office, ledge shelves are ideal to have right in front of the piano. They make it easy to grab the most frequently used books. And they create a colorful display. I like that students can see covers of books and that it helps them become interested in new music.
During my piano camp, I used it to store our art supplies that we needed to use throughout the camp. It made it easy to clean up and move them out of the way quickly.
During regular piano lessons, it has been an easy way to store games and game supplies like dice, game pieces, piano practice pads, flash cards and more.
Once again, since it’s easy to move around it makes finding and using supplies efficient and easy.
Currently, I have it placed between a piano and the wall and it’s a perfect place to store all of the supplies that I need right by the piano – pencil jar, stickers, clipboard, markers, teaching aids, etc.
It’s been a while since I’ve played music from a CD player, so when we moved a last year ago, it was obvious that it was time to get rid of most of my CDs.
I knew I wanted to find an easy digital way to work with music that we listen to frequently in my studio, such as my preschool music playlist, accompaniment files for piano methods or music we listen to for inspiration.
It was time to go digital, but it took my a while to find just the right device. My iPad is frequently occupied by students using Piano Maestro and other apps. My laptop seems to cumbersome to move around. It didn’t make sense to purchase another apple device just for playing music. I looked into an mp3 player, an iPod and even my retired iPhone.
Here’s how it’s used in my studio.
Preschool Music Class and Piano Playdate Class:
As I’m planning the class, I find songs for the class on Amazon Music and add them to my preschool music class playlist. I use an audio cable to connect the Kindle to my digital piano. During the class, music plays out of the speakers of my Clavinova, which have a clear, full sound.
I’ve found the Amazon Music subscription has definitely been worth it for having access to any music we want during preschool music class, without having to deal with ads.
We almost always use MIDI files on my Clavinovas as we’re learning music. However, some of my students have their lessons at the acoustic piano in my office, so it’s not as easy to play and project music. The light on my piano is similar to this OttLight with a built in bluetooth speaker, so we can use it to project the music when we’re playing along with a song. I keep playlists on the Kindle that music from all of the books that we frequently use, so it makes it easy to play music as needed.
Having access to my Amazon Music subscription is also handy during piano lessons because we have so much music at our fingertips. I can easily listen to songs that kids are requesting or have them listen to quality recordings of music they are learning.
It’s also nice to be able to plug headphones in to the Kindle and let kids listen to classical music while they draw.
This marker caddy is a super simple organizational upgrade to my studio, but it has really made a big difference. I used to have a big plastic tub of markers and it did the job, but now that we’ve moved away from it, we’re finding that a marker caddy is way easier to deal with. And, it just looks nicer.
With the big tub of markers, my students would loudly rummage through it or completely dump it out. It always seemed to cause a big commotion just to use markers.
With the marker caddy, they can see all of the available colors and it’s much easier to use and put markers away as they are needed. I mostly keep it stocked with Crayola Supertips or Fine Line markers so that students can both write and color with them as needed.
I’ve had trouble find a note-taking system to help me keep track of all of the little odds and ends that need to happen in between lessons. I find that I’m always having conversations with students or parents about something that needs to be taken care of – resending an invoice, finding a new book, recording songs to help students practice with. It’s easy to let all of these little things slip my mind once I get started teaching the next lesson. I’ve gotten in the habit of putting the tasks into my phone immediately and setting an alarm for a time when I know I’ll be available to take care of it.
For example, if I promise to send an audio file to a parent so that the student can practice with it, I put it on the list and set the alarm for around 8pm that night, which is usually right after my kids go to bed and the first chance I have to stop and take care of things for the day.
Or, sometimes right after a lesson ends, I think of something that I wish I had told a student. I’ll put a reminder on the list then set the alarm for the start of their lesson time the following week. It’s super helpful to have reminder flashing at me when the student arrives so that I remember to say something immediately.
In the past I’ve tried taking notes during lessons or keeping a paper to-do list and I found that it was too easy to forget about my lists and notes once I’m not teaching.
Binders + Bags
This is one of my favorite organizational tricks because I noticed it’s benefits daily.
I give all of my students this tote bag to keep their piano books in. They also get a binder where we keep assignment pages, sheet music and other papers. They bring their binder and bag to every lesson and it really helps all of us stay organized. Since my students mostly come in groups, there are a lot of different piano books floating around the studio in each hour. Everyone’s bags stays close by them during the hour and it makes it super easy to keep track of their belongings.
Before we started using piano bags, I would find my students’ books in my yard, in the street in front of my house and even in my neighbor’s yards some times. Students would walk away leaving half of their books here or they’d lose them in car under the seat. All of these issues are kept to a minimum now that everyone has a bag.
There are a handful of these bags are available in the Pianissimo Store. If you’re interested in placing a bulk or custom order for your students, just contact me for more information.
Have you implemented any new organizational habits that are working well in your studio right now? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!
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