Expressions Music Academy Sep 2017

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Melody The Monthly

NOVI LOCATION: 43370 West 10 Mile Rd Novi, MI 48375 TROY LOCATION: 4000 Livernois Rd Troy, MI 48098 PLYMOUTH-CANTON: 9357 General Drive Suite 101 Plymouth, MI 48170

LEVELING UP New Releases and the Very Best Students

This month, I’m thrilled to announce Expressions Music Academy’s new “Level Up” achievement program, a totally free, app-driven system designed by yours truly to motivate students to practice, while making it easier than ever for teachers to assign tasks and keep parents in the loop on their child’s progress. Before I get into that, though, I’d like to share some background — the “why” behind this exciting new development. During my early teens, as my mother struggled with her mental health and my sisters and I went through our ramshackle “homeschooling,” it fell to me, the oldest sibling, to keep everyone on track. I took it upon myself to build systems, charts, and checklists in order to task out chores, make sure my sisters were doing some semblance of schoolwork, and keep them motivated. If it sounds weird for a 13- or 14-year-old to be managing so much, it was, but I actually found it sort of fun. I had an aptitude for that kind of work early on, organizing haphazard circumstances into a coherent system. And, of course, it felt good to help out my younger sisters in the midst of such a difficult time. As I later became a teacher, a business owner, and a mentor to my staff and students, my deeply ingrained fascination with motivational psychology only grew. I’ve long felt that people, regardless of their station, are capable of so much more than they’re typically accomplishing in life, imbued with endless potential that just isn’t realized due to lackluster motivation. Because of this, one of my favorite parts of teaching music has always been to figure out ways to encourage my students to practice more. It became clear early on that the best way to instill a drive and passion in my students was to create a structured program that could establish accountability, as well as markers for their progress, just as those charts and checklists did for my sisters years back. To this end, I launched the Black Belt Achievement Program at Expressions in 2012. Just like in martial arts training, the program was separated into color- coordinated levels — like belts — and went from beginner to expert in 10 levels. To advance and gain rewards, students needed to complete six customizable challenges (e.g.,“Play all 12 major scales across one octave at 80 BPM”) and three

songs of their choice from a list of pieces at their level. The program worked great for motivating students, whether they had their eye on the challenging black belt songs or were more interested in the trophies and wristbands that came with progress. Black Belt, though, wasn’t quite enough. Though we promoted the system and encouraged teachers and students to use it, only a small subset actually fully integrated it into their lessons. So, alongside a team of expert software developers, I’ve built the Level Up app, which digitizes the leveled structure of the old Black Belt system, while adding a ton of new features and improvements. With two different components for teachers and students/parents, the system gives instant feedback to students and parents alike, while allowing teachers to assign songs and challenges at the touch of a button. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Features include a place where students can view all the songs for their instrument in all 10 levels, a leaderboard for parents and students to gauge their standing compared to other students, a practice schedule calendar (complete with notification reminders), and a (still-in-progress) section where students can listen to all songs included in the program on their instrument, so they can hear an ideal performance and select the piece they want to learn. Level Up has been a massive undertaking, and I’m over the moon about how it’s turned out. I could go on and on about all the amazing things the app can do, but I’ll save that for next month’s newsletter. For now, download the Level Up app for free from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, and see what it can do for your student’s potential!

- Jessica Schatz

Novi Location: 248-773-8364 | Troy Location: 248-845-4611 | Plymouth-Canton Location: 248-480-9108 | 1

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