13 episodes

The TopMusic Piano Podcast is a weekly show that provides piano teachers with inspiration and ideas for teaching piano in a way that engages and motivates students. Your host, Dr. Rachel Ehring, is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano-teaching gadgets. Rachel holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and an MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. Join Rachel as she interviews guests from the music education industry and shares tips and advice to help you run your dream piano studio.

TopMusic Piano Podcast Tim Topham

    • Music

The TopMusic Piano Podcast is a weekly show that provides piano teachers with inspiration and ideas for teaching piano in a way that engages and motivates students. Your host, Dr. Rachel Ehring, is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano-teaching gadgets. Rachel holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and an MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. Join Rachel as she interviews guests from the music education industry and shares tips and advice to help you run your dream piano studio.

    013: Using the Piano Pronto Series with Jennifer Eklund

    013: Using the Piano Pronto Series with Jennifer Eklund

    In today's episode, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Jennifer Eklund, a seasoned musician, educator, and the creative mind behind the Piano Pronto method books series. With a rich background in music performance, pedagogy, and historical musicology, Jennifer offers invaluable insights into piano education and composition. Join us as she shares her journey from teaching piano in Sweden to becoming a renowned composer and author, and how her passion for music led to the development of the Piano Pronto method book series. From discussing the importance of composition as a teaching tool to offering practical advice for beginner teachers, Jennifer's expertise shines through as she navigates the world of piano education with wisdom and enthusiasm. Tune in as we delve into the innovative methods and resources that make the Piano Pronto series a staple in piano classrooms worldwide.

    Jennifer shares a brief overview of her background.
    How she started teaching piano at a young age and eventually retired from teaching in 2014 to focus on her publishing business, Piano Pronto.
    The Piano Pronto method books, songbooks, and sheet music.
    She discusses her journey to becoming a composer, starting with teaching piano in Sweden and creating materials out of necessity.
    Importance of composition as a teaching tool, providing practical tips and resources for teachers.
    She encourages flexibility in teaching and acknowledges that composition may not be for every student.
    How she sees improvisation and composition as intertwined in her teaching approach.
    Why she developed the Piano Pronto method books.
    Jennifer's advice for beginner teachers.


    Guest Links:

    Piano Pronto Website
    Jennifer's Pop Music Catalog site (F.M. Sheet Music)
    Piano Pronto Publishing Facebook Group
    Piano Pronto Instagram Page


    Today’s Guest


    Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis in performance and pedagogy and a master’s degree in historical musicology from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks for students of all ages and levels. Jennifer is also a Signature Artist arranger with Musicnotes.com providing a large pop music catalog spanning many genres and styles.
    About Rachel Ehring
    Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.
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    • 54 min
    012: Tim Topham on Dreaming Big

    012: Tim Topham on Dreaming Big

    In today's exciting episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Tim Topham to discuss the power of dreaming big in the world of music education. Tim shares about his recent journey to the States, where he was the keynote speaker at the MTNA conference and also hosted an event in New York. From the genesis of his keynote speaking dream to his inspiring speech at MTNA, he offers valuable insights into the evolving mindset of music educators. We delve into the shift towards treating music studios as businesses and explore some exciting developments at TopMusic, including new projects and upcoming events. Join us as Tim encourages teachers to foster a positive peer perception of their students' musical abilities, all while championing the power of community support and the pursuit of dreams in the face of challenges.

    Tim shares about his recent trip to the States, where he was a keynote speaker at the MTNA conference and ran an event in New York.
    He recounts the journey of being asked to be the keynote speaker, a dream he had since attending MTNA in 2016.
    His keynote speech at MTNA, focusing on the importance of vision for teachers, studios, and personal goals.
    The shift in mindset among music teachers towards treating their studios as businesses.
    His experiences at MTNA, including connecting with colleagues and attending presentations.
    Some exciting developments at TopMusic, including the monthly magazine, live cohort courses, member meetups, and monthly missions.
    The importance of understanding chords and harmony, as they form the foundation of music, particularly in pop songs.
    Tim highlights the availability of helpful courses on pop song teaching, chord composing, and songwriting within the TopMusicPro membership.
    Benefits of allowing students to explore music without always aiming for performance readiness.
    Value of creating a positive peer perception of students' musical abilities.


    Today’s Guest


    Tim Topham is the founder of TopMusicCo, the world’s biggest online community of independent music teachers. Tim worked with the AMEB to create the Piano for Leisure Series 4 examination repertoire books and has reviewed syllabi, repertoire and resources from exam boards across the world. Tim has 20+ years’ classroom and music teaching experience including 10 years of music entrepreneurship. He’s an internationally-recognised speaker, author, podcaster and blogger and holds degrees including an MBA, BMus and DipEd.
    About Rachel Ehring
    Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.
    TOPMUSICPRO MEMBERSHIP 14-DAY FREE TRIAL
    Thank you for tuning in!
    Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.

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    • 37 min
    011: All About PopMATICS with Tony Parlapiano

    011: All About PopMATICS with Tony Parlapiano

    In this episode, we're chatting with Tony Parlapiano, a passionate piano instructor and the mastermind behind PopMATICS. Listen in as he takes us on a journey through his innovative curriculum designed for music enthusiasts seeking a hands-on learning experience. Tony also shares his personal evolution as a piano teacher and the transformative journey of his piano studio. From the hybrid model of live classes and video lessons to the emphasis on customization and student empowerment, get ready to explore the world of PopMATICS and its unique approach to music education.

    Tony shares a brief overview of his online music school, which offers a hybrid model blending live classes with video lessons.
    PopMATICS overview and how it aims to make music easy by simplifying the learning process, emphasizing customization for students' needs and preferences.
    He shares his unique perspective as a piano teacher who never had piano lessons as a child, which influences his teaching approach.
    His transition to piano from brass instruments during college and his journey into music education.
    PopMATICS curriculum, focusing on creating, listening, understanding, covering improvisation, playing by ear, and music theory concepts.
    How the program evolved to streamline class structure, concentrate on key learning areas, and ensure each class offers a complete learning experience.
    The challenges of teaching to all levels simultaneously and PopMATICS' approach has proven successful in providing a comprehensive music education online.
    Emphasis on learning music through listening rather than performance-based curriculum.
    How the curriculum bridges the gap between classical and jazz music, providing clarity and understanding for students interested in diverse genres.
    Tony highlights the role of Angela Senicz as his partner who's instrumental in the development and success of PopMATICS.


    Guest Links:

    PopMATICS Website
    TC188: Inspiring Students with Interest-Based Learning with Tony Parlapiano


    Today’s Guest


    Tony Parlapiano is a piano instructor and the creator of popMATICS—a curriculum for students who love music and want to take an active role in the direction of their learning. On today’s episode, Tony shares his own journey to becoming a piano teacher and how he has transformed his piano studio over the past few years. Here’s my interview with Tony.
    About Rachel Ehring
    Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.
    TOPMUSICPRO MEMBERSHIP 14-DAY FREE TRIAL
    Thank you for tuning in!
    Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.

    If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, which...

    • 41 min
    010: From Concept to Composition with Susan Staples Bell

    010: From Concept to Composition with Susan Staples Bell

    In today's episode, we're joined by the multi-talented Susan Staples Bell, who wears many hats as both a composer and instructor, passionate about composing engaging sheet music and resources for piano teachers and students. With over 30 years of experience in music education and various roles, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge to her compositions. Join us as she shares insights into her journey, from piano teacher to published composer. Learn about her unique approach to teaching lead sheets and the diverse inspirations behind her music, ranging from medieval melodies to video game soundtracks. Get ready to be inspired as we explore the world of composing with Susan Staples Bell!

    Susan shares her journey as a piano teacher and her current music studio in the San Antonio area.
    She discusses her lifelong dream of publishing music.
    How her composition journey began, rooted in her childhood piano lessons and later jazz lessons.
    A broad overview of her published music, which includes pieces for concert band, jazz ensemble, church choir and various piano levels.
    Susan shared her approach to teaching lead sheets and her method books for lead sheet reading.
    Her inspiration for composing, drawing from her love of medieval music, video games, and her desire to express emotions and tell stories through music.
    How she prevents her music from sounding the same while still maintaining her unique style.
    She shared some of her favorite and most creative pieces.
    Her composing process and the importance of starting with a clear idea and then brainstorming musical elements.
    Some of her influences as a musician and educator, mentioning her jazz instructor and junior high band director.
    Susan shared recent projects she has worked on.


    Guest Links:

    Susan Staples Bell Music Website
    Susan Staples Bell YouTube 
    Susan Staples Bell (old) Facebook Page
    Susan Staples Bell (new) Facebook Page
    Susan Staples Mast Bell SheetMusicPlus


    Links Mentioned

    Download your TopMusicMag March 2024 - Issue 03 "The Songwriting Special" Edition here


    Today’s Guest


    Susan Staples Bell is equal part composer and instructor, with her main focus being on creating exciting Sheet music and educational resources for Piano teachers and their students. She loves to draw students in with some fun music, then intrigue them, when they discover there’s really lots more learning here than meets the eye!

    Susan has served the Music community for over 30 years in various positions: Church musician (Organist, Accompanist, Praise Band Pianist, and Choir & Hand Bell Director), Middle School Band Director, and Piano Instructor: for the last decade, her Studio has been in the San Antonio, TX area. Each of these positions have given her unique experiences that shape the music she writes.

    You can find Susan’s pieces published at her website: www.susanstaplesbellmusic.com , and popular arrangements like Top Gun, at Sheet Music Plus. Sit back and listen to her Youtube: Susan Staples Bell | Piano Sheet Music to Inspire.
    About Rachel Ehring
    Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator,

    • 35 min
    009: Piano Detectives Club Summer Camp Debut with Janet Hart

    009: Piano Detectives Club Summer Camp Debut with Janet Hart

    In today's episode, we delve into the world of music education and piano pedagogy with our special guest Janet Hart. Janet is the founder of The Music Clubhouse, a bustling piano studio where she has cultivated a unique group piano curriculum called Piano Detectives Club. With a master's degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College, Janet has poured her expertise and passion into creating an enriching experience for young piano students. Join us as we uncover the exciting topics surrounding the release of Piano Detectives Club summer camp edition.

    Janet shares an overview of her piano studio in Lawrence, Kansas.
    She shared about her curriculum, Piano Detectives Club, for teaching group piano to 5 and 6 year olds.
    How the curriculum focuses on developing rhythm skills, finger numbers, left and right sides of the body, and participation in a class setting.
    Why Janet chose to focus on 5 and 6 year olds due to their eagerness to learn and the demand from families.
    Summer camp edition of Piano Detectives Club, covering five days of activities.
    The contents of the summer camp teachers kit, comparing it to the full curriculum kit.
    How the summer camp kit is a more affordable way to experience Piano Detectives Club.
    What students will learn by the end of the week-long program.
    The versatility of the summer camp program and how it can serve as a recruiting tool for the full curriculum.
    How the program can seamlessly transition into the academic year and mentions the addition of bonus classes throughout the year.


    Links Mentioned

    The Music Clubhouse


    Today's Guest


    Janet Hart lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where she founded and operates The Music Clubhouse, a thriving multi-teacher piano studio. She created the group piano curriculum, Piano Detectives Club, over a period of 20 years, pulling together her knowledge and creative skills with her interest in giving young students the best possible start at the piano. Janet holds a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College where she studied with Frances Clark and Louise Goss. She has served on the faculties of both Oklahoma Baptist University and The University of Kansas, teaching private piano and piano pedagogy. Janet is a member of Music Teachers National Association and is an active adjudicator and workshop clinician.
    About Rachel Ehring
    Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.
    TOPMUSICPRO MEMBERSHIP 14-DAY FREE TRIAL
    Thank you for tuning in!
    Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.

    If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other teachers find our show.

    Stay updated by subscribing to this show, and get automatic...

    • 35 min
    008: 5 Ways to Increase Your Income this Summer and Beyond

    008: 5 Ways to Increase Your Income this Summer and Beyond

    Hey there, teacher friends! As summer approaches, I've been reflecting on the opportunities it brings – not just for relaxation, but also for boosting our income. In today's solo episode, I'll be sharing some actionable ideas to help you maximize your income during the summer months and beyond. As we approach the summer break, it's the perfect time to explore strategies that can not only boost your earnings now but also lay the groundwork for a successful fall season. From automating payments to leveraging affiliate links, creating digital products, hosting summer workshops, and even learning new skills, I'll be sharing ways to increase your income and set yourself up for long-term success. So grab a coffee, take some notes, and let's dive in together!
    Summer opportunities and ideas to increase summer income and establish stability for the upcoming fall.Importance of automating scheduling and billing during the summer.Benefits of automation, including time-saving, avoiding missed payments, and providing convenience for parents.What are affiliate programs?Rachel encourage teachers with creative ideas to work on digital products during slower summer months.She shares her personal experience with creating digital products, emphasizing passive income potential.Offering various workshop ideas based on students' interests and community needs.Advise for teachers to develop skills related to teaching piano, such as preschool group programs or accompanying skills.She highlights opportunities like weddings, musical theater camps, and church gigs for additional income.
    Links MentionedFonsDownload your TopMusicMag February 2024 Issue 02 – Summer Camp Edition
    About Rachel EhringDr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.
    Visit her website at https://rachelehring.com/Visit her Etsy shop at Dream Lavender Music
    TOPMUSICPRO MEMBERSHIP 14-DAY FREE TRIALThank you for tuning in!Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.
    If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other teachers find our show.
    Stay updated by subscribing to this show, and get automatic delivery to your device every time a new episode goes live! We publish on Fridays weekly.

    • 13 min

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