The Glorious “Mess!” How the Creative Manage Their Studios

By JP Compeau

Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, sheet music, supplementary materials, games, technology…How do you organize your teaching environment?

In a 30-45 minute window I find it necessary and beneficial to have tools directly at my fingertips for guiding students and providing visual cues for them to be as successful at home as they were in the lesson. This can end up creating visual noise in the learning environment which may or may not benefit the student.

Personally, I have to see my resources to remember to use them; much like an artist needing access to their colour palette in order to be inspired. I’ve given up on the minimalist idea and figure that students are so wonderfully adaptable that they can survive and thrive as they actually look for familiar items when they come in: the koosh ball, the little erasers used as counters, the dice for deciding on repetitions, the riser foams for seating, foot stools.

What I don’t want however, is for the weekly practising routine to be chaotic and unproductive for the student. This only leads to frustration and slows progress while they try to recall the lesson and it’s subsequent requirements. This is where the online music tool, Cadenza, saves the week!

As one student remarks, “Cadenza keeps me organized, all of the stuff to do is in one place. I feel like it’s my musical agenda.” Tasks are organized, comments are brief and can be duplicated, repetitive assignments are carried over from week to week, unnecessary or completed tasks can be deleted. Rather than putting tasks into Cadenza without consulting the students, I often ask them to dictate to me what tasks they want me to assign for the week. In this way, Cadenza enables and empowers the student, which helps them to feel motivated when they’re at home. I can even upload a video or audio file for them to observe a task from the sound perspective, which is critical in my view for producing the well-rounded musician.

The results are astounding. Students come to lessons more prepared and with thoughtful reflection on their own playing throughout the week. I often receive little messages from them, which I see in the notifications, so I know where to start immediately without sifting through several pieces to find the piece they wished to show me. In the days before Cadenza, we might miss their favourite piece altogether, leaving them silently disappointed.

With Cadenza, I can jump right into celebrating an accomplishment, or I can tackle a problem that they were having immediately. I can just give my full attention to the student. Their confidence and enjoyment is, after all, why many of us become music teachers in the first place!

To find out more about this unique studio aide, click below!