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Using Evernote for Private Music Lessons

Blake Burch

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For the past two years, I've been running a business of teaching private lessons to aspiring young percussionists in the school district that I graduated from. It's an enriching experience to give back to students that are in the same position that I was only a few years ago and it's just one more way to keep music running through my veins.

To me, teaching (at it's initial stages) is simply a form of emulation with a dash of experimentation. When you're uncomfortable or unsure about what to do, you pull from your past experiences, all the while looking for new ways to approach issues. When I began teaching lessons, I taught each lesson in a fashion that was extremely resemblant of how my lessons were taught to me, but I started noticing a recurring trend. During each lesson, I would write comments and assignments in a student's notebook and send them on their merry way. Next week's lessons would result in one the following outcomes:

  1. The student would bring their notebook.
  2. The student would forget to bring their notebook.

Two options. A 50% chance of a positive outcome. However, this chance, when mixed and matched on a weekly basis started to lead to a lot of disorganization.

  1. The student would bring their notebook.

    1. I could reference things we covered the previous week.
    2. The next note in the notebook would be in chronological order.
    3. The student would forget to bring their notebook.
      1. I would have a vague idea about what I told the student the previous week but ultimately have to guess.
      2. The next note was written on a loose leaf sheet of paper.
      3. The next note in the notebook would not be in chronological order.

This meant that halfway through the semester, some notes were in the notebook, some were lost, and others were at home. When I took private lessons, I always had my notebook on me; I never even considered that this could be an issue! Not to mention that this disorganization also made it more difficult for parents to be involved in their child's lessons. As a result of all of this, I transitioned to using Evernote to teach private lessons this year. Using bit.ly and Evernote public shared notebooks, I've made a unique URL for every student with the following format: bit.ly/firstnamelastnamelessons

Not only is this extremely easy to remember, it's extremely convenient to use. I have the URL, the student has the URL and the parent has the URL. All of us can view the lesson notes at the same time and all of us have a shared responsibility in using the notes. I can better track a student's progress throughout the year and remind myself of trouble spots to hit each lesson. Parents can question and encourage their child during their practice time. Students can reference my notes and their assignments from anywhere at any time.

I'm also now able to be more versatile than ever during lessons. I can take notes on paper, then snap a picture and upload it. I can use an app called DocScanner to turn pictures of music into print-ready PDFs. I can also type out notes on my laptop, and if the battery dies, finish typing on my phone.

I realize that my use of Evernote is nothing special or extraordinary, but I must say that the decision to move lesson notes to an entirely digital format has been successful and has saved me from tons of frustration. While some problems will never change (such as not ever looking at the notes), I believe the most important issues have been solved and as a result, I will be able to serve my students even better. If you work with students in a one-on-one environment, I highly recommend making the switch.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Blake

Fantastic post, I was thinking of doing something similar for my students next year, I tutor English and Maths. I've only been using Evernote a few weeks and can see the many benefits it will offer my students, their parents and myself.

I agree their will be members who won't use this but when working with 50+ students a year, the ability to keep it simple and structured is more important than ever.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  • 1 month later...


Excellent post-one of the first that came up when searching "lessons"! I would love to see more of your process; specifically how you set up each student's Notebook. Found a lot of posts from teachers who USE Evernote, but very little info on how to set it up. Any tips, templates, links or screenshots?

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Blake,

that's a wonderful job you're doing. I appreciate it. In this era, we're supposed to give education to students updated and there should not be any distortion in this particular manner. A tutor is supposed to deliver the lecture at its best and the responsibility of student is to be updated by viewing the URL time by time. This technology has made everything very simple for every user. A student can easily access the lecture notes by using notebook. I hope by the passage of time every student can easily understand this pattern. 

notebook everythingavailablehere.com

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