Online Book Club--Chapter Two

Welcome back to the online book club at Club First let me say thank you to all those who contributed to the initial post. A rousing discussion was had that begs for more! In case you are just joining the online book club, Philip Johnston's book The Dynamic Studio: How to Keep Students, Dazzle Parents and Build the Music Studio Everyone Wants to Get Into is the book under discussion. Here's the link to the first round. Click here for more details about the club and how to join. It's really easy, just sign up here first, and you're in!

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, find a comfy chair and ponder over the quotes below.


dynamic-studio-how-keep-students-dazzle-parents-build-philip-johnston-paperback-cover-artToday's Quotes from Chapter 2: Shaking up the Static Studio

"...a studio's rhythm is a unique as a fingerprint."p 23

"Changing the rhythm of lessons is not about abandoning patterns in teaching, but it is about periodically confounding the expectations that such patterns create. It's about leaving students just a little off-balance, making it harder for them to settle into any sense of "same old", because there is no same old."p 23

"...I therefore very rarely prepare students for exams." p 37

"Next time you go to a music teacher conference, talk to as many teachers as you can, and ask them what it is that their studio has students preparing for..."  p 37

"One powerful way to change the rhythm of lessons--without actually declaring any changes at all--is to simply redefine the space in which the lessons take place." p 41



1) What does the "finger" print of your studio look like?

2) Do you change the rhythm of your lessons? If so, how?

3) Oh-oh, here we go...what about those exams, festivals, competitions? Do your students participate in as many as possible? None? Some? Do you believe they are beneficial to your teaching and your students' progress at the piano?

4) Do you re-create your teaching space by moving furniture, adding seasonal decor, incentive charts?

5) Have you tried implementing a "team" competition within your studio as Johnston mentions on page 39?


Here are my responses (it was hard to be brief!). Each question really deserves a full blog but that's for another time.

1) I usually need to pull the shades down because my studio is filled with natural  sunlight. This always helps lighten the mood. A unique finger IMG_2103print is hard to gauge when you are in the midst of it but I suspect people walk in and feel at ease because I'm quite casual. Still pondering this insightful question.

2) Every week students earn a piece of candy IF they can answer the question of the week. Examples: What is the name of the composer of your recital piece? Draw an example of a slur and a tie on the white board and explain the difference between the two. What does that dot mean by that dotted note? What instrument does a skeleton play? (trombone). Here's a blog about how I use these "teachable moments".

3) For quite some time I have stayed away from festivals, competitions, etc because of family obligations, keyboard classes at school that demanded too much of my time, a full-time church position and frustration with the quality of comments from adjudicators. Recently I entered 7 students in a festival. The verdict is still out. I'm not fully convinced of these yet, but all students claimed they would do it again.

4) My studio was remodeled and I'm absolutely spoiled as are my students. If I had to choose one favorite thing about it: I parted with a desk and replaced it with a round table from Ikea that cleans up in a snap with Windex. The table invites people to sit and converse. It's a perfect place for new student interviews, group lessons or when I want to just hang with a student before the lesson begins.

5) I have not tried a team competition (outside of my Piano Olympics) in my studio but would like to, does anyone have a successful team event they wish to share?

This second chapter is lengthy and displays Johnston's ability to generate an overwhelming amount of suggestions to shake your studio into a static-free environment. What's important to me is that the unique "print" of my studio be authentic. Ideas, events, activities need to feel right to me for it to work. Just because a team competition may work for someone else's studio, doesn't mean it will work for me. However, I'm always up for something new so can't wait to hear from you all! One more thing, Johnston hints at the importance of going to teacher conferences--will you be at NCKP this summer?


Your comments will make this book club much more fascinating. Feel free to elaborate on your answers, vent, ask another question--chapter two went on and on with so many amazing ideas, did one stand out that I missed? 

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