«Snap!»… 5 Unique Ways To Use Photography In Your Piano Lessons

I have found myself using a lot of audio and video recording in my piano lessons lately… so to shake things up a bit, I challenged myself to see how “still” photography could also have its place in my lessons. The challenge is still ongoing, and as I prepare to welcome back ALL of my students after summer break, these five fun and effective ways to use photography will be at the top of my to-do list!

Snap 5 Unique Ways To Use Photography In Your Piano

5 Reasons To Make Your Camera A Piano Lesson Sidekick…

1. Posture Pics – During a very first piano lesson, after a discussion of proper posture on the bench, take a picture of your student sitting at the piano correctly and then one of him sitting incorrectly (as exaggerated as possible). At the following lesson, paste the photographs side by side onto a piece of paper and create a piano posture “before and after” diagram.

Next, have your student draw lines from various points of the good posture photo and label it with statements such as “feet flat on the floor”, “arms parallel to the ground” etc.  Have your student then draw lines from the poor posture photo and label it with statements such as “slouching shoulders”, “fallen wrists” etc.  This is a fun way to review posture… and to ensure a perfect visual will be waiting in his binder when your student needs a little reminder!

2. Artsy Articulations – Fold a piece of paper into 4 squares. In each of the 4 squares write the name of an articulation mark (staccato, tenuto, accent, slur etc.). Send it home and instruct your student to take a picture of any object or living thing that could be representative of each mark and paste the picture in the appropriate square. For example, a picture of sand fleas would make for an appropriate representation of staccato.

3.  Theory Pix – As a “studio-wide” theory activity, take an up-close picture of a single measure of music. Email this picture to your students or include it in your studio newsletter.

Ask your students to look at the picture and bring back the following information to their next lesson:

  • Their guess at the time signature of the piece.
  • The note names they see within the bass clef of the measure.
  • The definition of any dynamic markings or Italian terms.
  • The name of the harmonic or melodic intervals they can see in the treble clef.

For more exciting ways to explore theory, check out our resource Pssst… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Theory… 88 activities that are absolutely, positively, NOT BORING!

4. Where Do My Hands Go? – It has happened to us all… a beginning piano student with “not-so-musical” parents misses an entire week of practice because he forgets where to put his hands on the piano keys. Fix this problem by photographing your student’s hands in the starting position of his newest piece. A simple click and an emailed pic ensures that his parents have a very clear visual of “where his hands go”.

5. Motivating Piece Titles – If you’ve ever flipped the page in a method book and felt your student “deflate” beside you because it “looks boring” or “has a boring title”… this is your solution!  Take a head-shot of each of your students at their first lesson of the year. Print several sheets of wallet-sized photos of each student and keep them on hand.

A piece can become an instant favorite when it speaks to your piano student directly… and there’s no better way than by putting your student directly “in” the piece.  See below for an example of how I’ve used this. Some pictures work better than others 😉 but for those that don’t lend themselves as easily, adding a “stick figure” body and some fun sticker accessories can do wonders!


Click Away and Make Those Memories Last!

Including great photo visuals in your lessons is one more way you can add interest and effectiveness to your teaching. Embracing technology doesn’t mean you need to completely change the way you teach, but rather use it to compliment what you already do well. So, choose your favorite idea and give it a try this coming teaching year… you never know what may “click”!

Note: Always remember, when using photography in your piano studio it is very important to get parent permission and media release forms!

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