Another quick Tuesday Teaching Tip for this week and today I want to give those tablets or phones we carry a good workout! I’m challenging each of us to try to record a part of each student’s lesson. So pull out those electronics we always carry within arms reach and record a video!

Now onto the purpose of recording – I love when students listen to themselves and realize what to fix without having to be told. It’s preparing them to critique their own playing and improve their practicing at home, which are both important goals we have for our students.

So record away! Record their sight-reading to help them see how steady their beat is or how their accuracy really is or to check where their eyes are during their sight-reading. (By the way, have you seen this video? I’m wishing I could see the eye tracking for myself and each of my students now!)

Then record their technique. Play it back for them to check if they have chicken arms or to check how even the tone is.

And of course we should record their composition or improv! I have a CD of compositions I did from a year of piano lessons – an amazing teacher did this for me years ago when I was a young student. Maybe you’ll want to send these to parents or display them on your studio YouTube Channel (with permission).

Then of course, record their repertoire. Then play it back and see what they think they did well. Help them see things they improved on firsthand – it’s always the best part of the lesson to hear and see the progress they made from practicing well. (And if they didn’t practice well, it’s a great point for them to see what still needs work.) Then ask them what they think would improve the piece, what they should work on next. Often their answers and ideas take us on a different path than I may have expected, but they reveal what they listen for in the music very clearly. As a teacher, I see what areas I still need to teach them what to listen for as well.

Recording also has another benefit – it prepares us for performance. It just seems to amp up the pressure just a bit, enough that they try to not go back but practice playing on no matter what happens. And since it’s going to be recorded, students take it more seriously. This really shows how memory and mental focus are progressing as we prepare for a recital.

So this week I hope each of us will try to record & listen. Get out those phones and just start recording! Now if you have tons of students, you may worry about the space this will take up. Just make sure your photos/videos upload to Google Drive and you can easily send that link home to students. Another way would be to do upload a private video to YouTube so you can send the link to the student later.Sometimes I love to send the video home so they can listen again as they practice and really try to change certain things we discussed. Other times, just listening once makes enough of a point that we’re fine without sending it home.  So if your video has fulfilled it’s purpose, just delete at the end of the lesson and keep your phone memory freed up.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Author: Whitney

Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at