Friday, April 18, 2014

New feature: How I Work


Running with my ongoing theme of something productivity related on Fridays, I thought it would be helpful and interesting to discover how music teachers (and/or composers, and/or performers) work. So I devised a list of questions that I am going to have teachers answer, and then I'll share their answers with you!

If you might be interested in being featured on 'How I Work', send me an email (and thank you!).

So, in the interest of being fair - I shouldn't ask anyone else to do something I'm not willing to do myself - I will disclose how I work. I'm not a teacher, so it won't necessarily be all that pertinent, but again: only fair:

My name is Valerie, and this is how I work.

Hello, world!

My Location: Pensacola, Florida

What I do: Print Music Buyer at Dollarhide's Music Center. Parent. Volunteer.

My desk setep: It's easier to show than to tell.

Where the magic happens. That apple was disappointingly mushy.
My desk is often a hodge podge of Post-It notes and other random slips of paper (I am attempting to go paperless, though), roughly a thousand pens because I'm a lefty and picky about my writing implements, and an excessive number of coffee cups. It's a work in progress.

Devices I use: At work, I have a desktop and that's it, although I will sometimes use my personal phone for work tasks. At home, I have a laptop, a netbook, an Android tablet, an old school Kindle, and my Android smartphone. Now that I write that out, I feel kind of ridiculous. That's a lot of devices. I am sharing them with two children, though.

What apps or software I use: I use Outlook for email, mostly because I have no choice. I use Evernote for tons of tasks - as a brain dump, as a daily diary, for managing special orders, for 'read later' items, and note taking. I use KanbanFlow for to-dos and project management. I use Google Calendar and Google Drive. Chrome is my browser of choice, and I am something of an extension junkie: I currently have HTTPS Everywhere, a bit.ly link shortener extension, Evernote Web Clipper, AdBlock Plus, Disconnect and LastPass installed. I use Speed Dial 2 for my new tab page in Chrome, because it is amazing. For a majority of my mailing, I use stamps.com. Feedly is my reader of choice.

What is your best time management tip? Not mine, but very helpful: the workflow stages from 'Getting Things Done'...

  • What is it? Is it actionable?
  • If not, trash it, put it in a tickler file or put it in a reference file.
  • If so, what’s the next action? The next action is defined as the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion.
  • Will next action take less than 2 minutes?
  • If yes, do it.
  • If no, delegate it or defer it.
  • If it will take longer than 2 minutes, consider it a project (defined as requiring more than one action step) and put it in your project plans which will be reviewed for actions.


What are you currently reading? On my Kindle, I'm reading Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. I'm also (re)reading a "real" book at the moment too, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

What is your sleep routine/do you get enough sleep? My sleep routine is not the best. I aim to be in bed by 10PM and asleep by 11PM, but that all usually happens an hour later than I intended. My average is probably 6 hours. I'm at my best on 7-8 hours of sleep, but sadly that doesn't happen often.

Is there someone else you would like to see answer these questions? Right off the top of my head, Wendy Stevens. She always seems to do so much. I once asked her if she was some sort of wizard, to be able to do all the things that she does. She said no, but I'm still not convinced.

What is the best advice you've ever received? Oh, man. This is a tough question. I've been on the receiving end of a LOT of advice lately, most of it very good. I'm going to go with "Use your words." Speak your truth!

(There are a few more questions in the teacher version, of course, but those wouldn't pertain to me so I omitted them.)

So there you go! That is how I work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Web Wednesday



I would like to start off with a couple of links you can share with parents:


Now, back to business:
  • As someone who has somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 pieces of LEGO in her home, I LOVE this idea:


 Rhythmic Notation in LEGO (so good I felt the need to include a photo)

"What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience BECOMING, to find out what’s inside you, to MAKE YOUR SOUL GROW." (source)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Evernote for Music Teachers


I have perhaps mentioned this before, but I LOVE Evernote - I use it both personally and professionally. When I first started using it, I wasn't quite certain how exactly it would be useful to me but thought it was worth trying. Then I was sitting in carpool line at school, waiting to pick up my children, and I got a call from my attorney's office asking for a particular document that they needed ASAP. Since I had scanned the document and put it in Evernote, I was able to pull up the Evernote app on my phone and email the document to them within minutes of their request, just sitting there in my car. That experience made me a believer.

Then I started using it more often at work, and found it has a myriad of uses. I track special orders there, use it for 'read later' type of items, I keep a daily work journal there - notes about people I spoke with, things I needed to get done, etc.. I also like that I can access my business account from home, if someone calls me with a question on my day off during the week (this happens often).

I can access Evernote via apps for Android or IOS, or I can access it via the web. I have a folder that I share between my business and personal accounts, and I have a folder that I share between my personal account and my daughter's account (she's 12, and uses it for studying and writing papers and such). And no, Evernote isn't paying me anything, I just love their product and find it so useful I want to spread the word.

I thought I would share some links on how music teachers have used Evernote in their studio:

From the Collaborative Piano Blog, How to Use Evernote to Track Student Progress and Send Lesson Notes

This is a post on the Evernote Forums, Using Evernote for Private Music Lessons

From Advancing Musician, Evernote – How to Track Your Students’ Progress

From the Zoen Blog, 6 Ways to Use Evernote As A Tool For Both Music Teachers and Students

From Natalie at Music Matters, Evernote: A Fabulous Free App for Lesson Planning

Kristin Yost (of the iPod Piano Studio) uses Evernote

Leila Viss at the Music Teacher's Helper Blog,  Apps I Use at Every Lesson

From Kathleen Prochnau, Remember Everything

From Piano Pathways, Evernote App

From the Nerdy Teacher, Wrapping up the Epic @Evernote Experiment

If you're not familiar with Evernote, Lifehacker has some helpful articles: I've Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here's Why It's Actually Amazing or What's All the Fuss About Evernote? Should I Be Using It? might be helpful for getting an idea of what it's all about.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Web Wednesday

From Beyond the Notes, Lessons about music and accompanying from a cricket (I love that book too!)

Have you seen the Rhythm Cup Explorations over at Compose Create? SO COOL.

Over at Foxx Piano Studio Resources, there is a guest post chock full of information on summer camps - Be Our Guest! Summer Camps

From the Collaborative Piano Blog, Music Class Resources Board on Pinterest

From Tim Topham, The Real Reason Teens Are Quitting Your Studio – Part 2 and from Foxx Piano Studio Resources, Part 3

From NPR, Musicians, Take Note: Your Instrument May Be Contraband

From 4D Piano Teaching, Discover a New Product That Can Save You Time and Money

This is from her archives, but has been making the rounds this week and is a great post: From Elissa Milne, “Beethoven to Britney”: my response

From 12 Most, 12 Most Pervasive Lies About Creativity

And speaking of creativity, I will leave you with this little gem (source):

Owly Images

Happy browsing!