Interview with Shelly Davis: Creator of the Piano Parent Podcast
I had the pleasure of meeting Shelly at the 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She introduced herself and I felt like I had an instant friend. She is a ray of sunshine and has a smile that fills the room. Shelly has been up to some really wonderful things since we met and I invited her here to tell us all about it!
Hi, Shelly! Before we dive into talking about the Piano Parent Podcast, tell us a little about yourself!
Thanks, Heather, you’re so sweet! I remember seeing you early on at NCKP and knew I had to meet you! It’s probably a good thing we don’t live closer to each other; I think we could get into some serious piano shenanigans!
A little about me: I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Duane, for 28 years. We have four children: Justin, Keri, Austin, and Tracy. We are all musical in one way or another–from piano to band instruments to singing to guitar, banjo, ukulele, etc. Of course I have other interests besides music and teaching – my husband and I enjoy road-tripping around the country, we love Texas Aggie football, and my girls and I are serious Netflix marathoners.
Professionally, I’ve been teaching piano since 1991 with a current student load of 45 private piano students. (Three days a week, I also teach preschool music classes at a local daycare along with general music classes at a charter school in a nearby city; but I consider piano teaching my primary job and my first love.)
Shameless plug – you can hear more about my early piano studies and teaching philosophy in the introductory episode of the Piano Parent Podcast, Episode 000.
Tell us about the Piano Parent Podcast. Why did you start this podcast and where the idea was born?
The idea for the podcast sprouted about a year ago and I learned how to record, edit, and upload podcasts during my summer hiatus. I enjoy listening to podcasts when I’m working in the yard, house cleaning or driving. Some of my favorite podcasts are Tim Topham TV – of course!, Pastor Mark Driscoll or any type of Bible study, and Brooke Castillo with The Life Coach School.
I discovered that Brooke has a second podcast about becoming a life coach. So many of the topics she covers in that series are perfectly adaptable to us as piano teachers! In fact, I would highly recommend it to your readers. I am confident that they will find ideas to help make their studios more efficient, target potential students, and manage the students they already teach.
The more I listened, the more I wanted to provide some sort of additional content for my own students and their families. I already have a studio website and Facebook page. Also, I often video students playing a technical exercise or difficult passage in their music and send it to their parents to reference during the week. But I wanted something more, particularly something that would be of use to my piano families who had little to no musical experience. It occurred to me that the podcast might be helpful not only for my own piano families, but other piano parents as well. As a member of several online forums for piano teachers, I realized that many teachers tend to have the same issues with piano parents over and over, like poor practice habits, slow payment, and makeup lesson requests. Many issues are common place for piano teachers, but piano parents are simply unaware of the negative affects.
What topics have you already covered in the podcast and what can we expect in the next few episodes?
The first few episodes have covered a wide range of general and practical topics including “Establishing Good Practice Habits”, “Understanding the Grand Staff”, and “Progress is Not Always a Straight Line”.
Every tenth episode will offer a list of ten musical somethings. Episode 10 lists Ten Ways to Encourage a Love of Music.
I’m excited to announce that future episodes will feature interviews with piano teachers and piano parents. I think it will be helpful for listeners to hear how other piano teachers run their studios. It may be helpful for piano parents to learn that their teacher’s business practices are similar to many teachers across the country. I believe piano parents will also enjoy hearing tips, suggestions and struggles that other piano parents face.
Where can we catch new episodes and catch up on previously aired episodes?
Not only are you providing the podcasts, but you also list the resources you talk about in each episode. What a great thing! What is your favorite that has been featured so far?
While I use the “Get SMART with your music” resource sheet, from Episode 000, frequently with my own students.
I thought I would offer your readers a special sneak peak at a resource that will appear in Episode 13 later this month. I call this the “Magic Wand” and it is an extremely useful tool for teaching students how to identify key signatures as well as the sharps or flats contained within a major key signature. My students take the Texas Music Teachers Association theory exam every year, one of the most comprehensive precollegiate theory programs in the nation, where they are required to identify multiple major key signatures as early as fourth grade. I hope it will be of use to your readers and I hope it will help piano parents as they strive to understand this complex aspect of music theory.
Episode 13 is the first of a three-part series on the Magic Wand where I not only teach, step-by-step, how to write out all the key signatures but also how to put that information into practical use. My students are able to use their Magic Wand to chose a key and identify the primary triads (and later the relative minor chords, the secondary triads) to create lead sheets or their own compositions. What a fun reason to learn music theory!
What kind of feedback have you heard from parents and teachers who have listened to the podcast?
I have been so grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from piano teachers like you, Heather, who see the podcast as a valuable resource for piano parents. There are many online resources for piano teachers and an article, here or there , aimed at helping parents but there simply isn’t anything out there designed specifically for piano parents, until now. Sadly, many piano teachers don’t have the time to train the parents of their piano students, so I think teachers are grateful to have a resource they can direct their families to.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a comment from a retired senior citizen who has recently started learning piano on her own. She’s finding the episodes enlightening and offered suggestions for things she would like to learn from the podcast in the future. I’m delighted to be there for her!
How can readers get in touch with you?
If there are any teachers interested in interviewing for the podcast or to recommend a piano parent for an interview, they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.