Tag Archives | Technology

Music technology and dyslexia

music and dyslexiaDid you know that many well-known technologies were designed for dyslexics? Yep. Tools like text-to-speech software were developed with dyslexic users in mind.

This makes sense … because someone with dyslexia requires very clear and deliberate communication. So if a new software program is going to work in the dyslexic community, then it’s got to be really good.

As a side benefit, these well-designed and intuitive products tend to appeal to people in general. Because everybody prefers clear and deliberate communication. So you might say dyslexia-friendly products are the real innovators in today’s world.

the best innovations are dyslexia friendlyIf you have any dyslexic students, there are a number of technologies that can take your music lessons to the next level:

1 – Tools for learning

  • iTunes is full of some very cool apps. There are tons of resources that can simplify your teaching. But one of my favorite apps is Octavian by Bitnotic.
  • By definition, dyslexics typically don’t like writing information—including sheet music. So there are a number of music notation packages that simplify the process. Consider software by Sibelius or the relatively inexpensive Notion 3. Or you might try my personal favorite—MuseScore. (Which is free!)
  • YouTube is another great learning resource. Encourage your students to watch step-by-step tutorials. Or have them look at different performances of the songs they’re learning. Videos like these are ideal because they don’t rely on written text.
  • Music teaching websites also provide tons of useful information. has many useful exercises. And you can find even more instruction here at

2 – Tools for organization

  • Use your mobile phone to keep students on track. With their (or their parents’) permission, you can send lesson reminders and other general notes via text message. You can also communicate with a larger group via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Record information on your student’s phone or iPod. Or encourage them to record their own messages to jog their memory.
  • Use a shared online calendar to mark important dates. Tools like Google Calendar are great for blocking out practice times, rehearsal dates, and special events. And because a calendar is so graphical, it can really help a dyslexic student soak everything in.

3 – Tools for learning AND organization

  • Moodle is a great tool for organizing lesson plans and interacting with students via the web. It’s a “virtual learning environment” (or VLE) that allows you to add things like a repertoire database, student diaries, quizzes, and other features.
  • Another cool online tool is Like Moodle, it lets teachers design comprehensive lessons, and add all sorts of multi-media to aid learning. Students can take their own notes, submit questions, and review information at their own pace. Check out the ColorMusic Udemy courses for some (objectively excellent) examples!

When it comes to teaching students—and especially those with dyslexia—technology is your friend. It can make a real difference in the learning experience … and help guide a student along the path of awesome. So use it! 

What technologies do you use in your music program?


4 smart ways to organize your music lessons

music and dyslexiaOrganization … it can be a major challenge for anyone with dyslexia. For many people, this condition can make it hard to sequence information. That is, to keep the order of things straight. So a dyslexic student might struggle following the steps of a lesson.

how to get organized

That’s why you must be very intentional about the way you organize your music lessons. Here are some proven tips to keep your dyslexic students on track:

1 – Remove distractions

Dyslexic students already have a hard time focusing. So minimize potential disruptions. Hold your lessons in a quiet place, turn off your cell phone, clean up the clutter, and generally help your student zero in on the task at hand.

2 – Establish structure

Take the time to produce well-structured lessons. Your students will know you care when you lay out a predictable format that they can follow. That way, they’ll know the order of things and can get into a nice learning rhythm.

It’s okay to mix things up a bit every so often—to keep things fresh. But much of the time, it helps to stick to the same, solid lesson structure.

3 – Simplify instructions

Simplicity is key. Anytime you give instructions, break them down into steps. Number them, cross them off … do whatever it takes to ensure they’re super clear.

Checklists are also a great tool for organizing information into bite-sized pieces. You can also use highlighters, bookmarks, and assignment sheets to emphasize important points.

4 – Leverage technology

Also use electronic resources to organize your lessons. For example, you can send practice reminders via text messages. Or you might encourage students to use an online calendar to schedule activities. The Internet is full of cool goal-setting resources and other software for establishing timelines and recording achievements.

Whatever you do, be sure to stay organized and on-point. The more structured you are as the instructor, the more your students will improve!

How do you keep your lessons organized?


How music teachers can make money

marketing music 101Every teacher needs students, right? And the only way to be successful is to constantly develop your student base. Back in the day, that took a lot of hussle. But these days, it’s a lot easier to do using a website called Have you heard of it?

take lessons logo

TakeLessons was designed to help you make a living doing what you love. And, at the same time, it simplifies your business operation—serving as your booking engine, scheduling tool, payment system, and communications platform. (Or at least that’s the idea.)

With a current network that has reached more than 3,000 U.S. cities, it’s gaining a pretty strong foothold. And it could be an excellent way for you to find the perfect students. Here’s a quick snapshot of this cool technology:

Services offered

Students can search TakeLessons for their ideal teacher (you) based on time, location, background, age, and 35 different instrument types. If a student finds someone they want to work with in their area, they can schedule an in-person lesson … or register for online instruction. Payments are handled online or through the company’s call center—kind of like an eHarmony for music lessons.

When registering, students set up profiles that describe their skill level, what they want to learn, the types of music they like, and so on. Instructors can then review this information and use it to develop a customized lesson plan. Once TakeLessons verifies that the student was satisfied with their teacher, it releases payment to the instructor.

Teacher quality

If you want to be listed on TakeLessons, just know that they ain’t messin’ around. Only the top 10% of teachers who apply to the network are even accepted. But the company has to picky, because its strength is based on maintaining only the highest reputation possible.

To avoid bad teachers, the company screens and interviews each of its instructors—going through a 7-step process designed to weed out people are might be good musicians, but who aren’t so good at teaching. This includes interviews, background checks, reference checks, and online training.

Network strength

Technically, TakeLessons is still in a start-up phase. So its coverage, quality, and prices still vary from city to city. But since 2006, the company has paid out more than $10 million to music teachers who are now serving students in more than 3,000 cities. And much of the company’s growth has come in the last year alone.

Currently, the average lesson price is $38—which is pricier than free, but considerably cheaper than most. And because TakeLessons provides the security of dealing with a trusted brand, it’s a valuable platform for any musician who’s serious about teaching.

So check it out their website and let me know what you think. It could be right up your alley.

What has your experience been dealing with TakeLessons?


How to increase your community presence

marketing music 101Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” And nothing could be truer in today’s world of music education. As a teacher, you fight an uphill battle … with shorter attention spans, tighter budgets, and an increasing skepticism about the very value of your work.

I still love music pinBut even in the face of these challenges, some savvy music teachers are winning … and even flourishing.

The truth is that you can, too.

You just need to employ some specific—and smart—tactics to raise music awareness in your community. In fact, with enough work, you can even expand your student base and have a lot of fun doing it!

1 – Engage in Social Media

By now, you’ve got to know … social media  is not a passing phase. It’s an extremely powerful tool for communication. And you can start using it today to reach like-minded people in your community.

Engage in conversations with others on the topic of music education. Find out what they like and don’t like. Then draw connections between their needs and what you can offer.

For example, you might identify how your music program can supplement a local math teacher’s efforts … or how you can assist the local nursing home with music classes … or how a local shop could benefit from holding a weekly Thursday night music course.

Once these connections are made, you can then tweet and post updates about your activities. This will increase awareness even further and create some really good buzz.

2 – Make Traditional Media Contacts

In addition to using social media, talk with local stations about promoting your music program. Television, radio, and newspaper companies are likely to cover your cause if you present a newsworthy story that showcases the social benefits of your offering.

People love stories that are heartwarming, funny, exciting, or thought-provoking. And music has the ability to evoke all of these things. Reach out to your local media outlets. You may be surprised by the response.

3 – Hold a Charity Performance

Heck, plan several performances  … or even make them recurring events in your community. Let your music do the talking and people will respond.

Just be prepared to discuss the benefits of your music program. That way, you can attract more students and patrons. The more, the merrier!

4 – Leverage Relationships

If your students are young or you teach privately, gain wider exposure by working with a larger organization—like a local church or middle school. Form an alliance with the organization’s music director, and promote their events.

At those activities, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your own music program. Talk about how your students go on to play in the school band or church choir. Or how your students become star academics or pillars in the community. Be the best alley-oop in town!

Whatever approach you take, the key is to DO SOMETHING. Too many music teachers sit back and bemoan the current state of music education. But you are different, right?! There’s still plenty of opportunity to get out there and make some music. So do it!

What else are you doing to promote your music program? What works and what doesn’t?


4 essential learning tools for musicians

building a curriculumIf you were stranded on a desert island, what would you need to make great music?

It’s a hard question, I know. You may have a lot of musical toys that make life convenient. But if you had to go bare bones, what would make the cut?

ukulele guitar with palm trees on desert islandIf you ask me, I’d grab four things to throw in the life boat:

1 – An instrument

A ukulele is probably the best choice. (Grand pianos are hard to push up a sandy beach.) But the fretboard would need to be labeled with some ColorMusic® stickers, of course. That way, I’d never get lonely on my island.

2 – Paper and Pen

I’d also need a way to write song ideas and lyrics. So a nice Moleskine® notepad and a Fischer® Space pen would be great. (The Space pen even writes underwater, so it would survive my long swim to the beach.)

3 – MuseScore Software

This one’s a little tricky because it requires a computer. (But if I had a big ziplock bag….) With my ColorMusic plugin , I could make color notation all day long. Or at least until my coconut-powered electricity supply ran out.

4 – Octavian App

Finally, I’d bring my iPad to pull up Bitnotic’s Octavian App . With tons of scales and chords in ColorMusic, I’d have a full music library at my fingertips! (Then after three months, I might think to use the iPad to call for an island rescue….)

These are life and death questions, you know. What would you need to survive on a desert island?


©2016 ColorMusic Media. All rights reserved.