Advisor: Education and Instructional Design

Our company, TakeLessons, is used by millions of people each month to find and book education services and take online classes. We have two products: first, a matching marketplace where customers find and book their perfect instructor – both in-person (locally) and online. Second, an online group class product called TakeLessons Live where customers can access live classes from wherever they are, on any device, and get the help they need.    

We are experts at building technology solutions to help instructors market themselves, close more business, and teach online. However, we do not claim to be world-class education experts with deep proficiency in class design and pedagogy. 

Thus, we are looking for an Education and Instructional Design Advisor who can help us ensure we are building products, services, and solutions that help our students and teachers reach their goals. 

As our Education Advisor, you would advise us on how to better our tools for educational purposes and improve the learning outcomes of our online group classes.  You’ll also get to work with a team of motivated people who share your passion for helping people. 

Here is what our Education Advisor would do

  • Meet with our TakeLessons Live team upfront to establish the systems for our group classes. This would include helping us understand (a) what makes a good class (b) the different components of the class (c) how the class would wrap up, etc. You would give us guidance on instructional class design.
  • You would help us design courses (a series of classes), and certificates (a series of courses) around particular topics.
  • You will be available for us to ask questions and receive guidance on educational topics. We might ask your opinions on things like: What is the best way to retain a student the entire time? What is the best way to use tools and artifacts in the class?
  • We want to start a continuous education series where we help our teachers become better teachers. You would do occasional AMA’s (ask me anything) online with our Teacher community, where you would answer your peer’s questions around topics such as, what makes a great teacher, and how to improve retention.
  • Advising us on incentive strategies such as using badges, levels, rewards, education certificates (both for students and teachers) to motivate them. 
  • You could give us guidance around You would be available for the CEO to get your thoughts on future plans.

Why this Advisor role is important. 

Back in 2008, we had an idea to build technology that helps teachers and artists make a better living doing what they want to do. 

Fast forward to today, we’ve taught over 3.5 million lessons, and each year over 20 million people use TakeLessons to learn, read our blog, and buy lessons. The company has expanded to include music, languages, tutoring, hobbies, and more. We have also expanded the technology so you can access live classes from anywhere in the world, take an online class, and learn from your mobile device. 

We’re humbled to say our business matters to the thousands of instructors that make a living on the platform. 

It matters to the tens of thousands of people who take lessons with us each month, who learn, who grow, and who make a more fulfilling life for themselves and their family. 

Our business matters to our society. In a world where education is so critical to one’s success, we have a personal goal to positively impact millions of users through a better way to learn. 

And our business matters to our employees, too. We believe that providing a positive culture where our people can do enjoyable work – work that matters – with cool people, in a stable company, and be paid well, is a worthy goal to shoot for. 

Our mission is to inspire the world to connect, explore what’s possible, achieve results, and build a better tomorrow. Our Education Advisor helps us fulfill this mission. 

Here is the type of background this person would have.

  • Curriculum Design Coach, or Master Teacher in curriculum, or education-related studies
  • 7 years of experience as an educator
  • Direct experience leading and writing classes, courses, and other instructional design work
  • An easy and simple way of communicating to lay-people
  • An active teacher on TakeLessons.com

Does this suit you? If so, here are the details.

Location:

  • This is an advisor role. The Advisor can be located anywhere.  

Type of Position and Time Frame

  • This is an advisory role on an as-needed basis
  • Expecting between 8-12 hours for the first couple months, then 4-6 hours a month thereafter
  • Two year position

Benefits

  • 10,000 options in TakeLessons stock, pending the completion of the full two years
  • Higher margin earned on all new students during the role (20-20-20-10)
  • Notoriety among your peers
  • Ability to use “Education and Instructional Design Advisor: TakeLessons” on your resume and LinkedIn

Interested?

Great! We can’t wait to meet you. Please send an email, along with your resume, to Maria Hernandez at mhernandez@takelessons.com

11 Ways to Practice Drums Without a Drum Set

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If you just started taking drum lessons, you may not be ready to invest in a full drum set. Luckily, a lack of equipment doesn’t have to hinder your progress. You can still practice and improve, you just need to be creative! Here, drum instructor Andrea I. shares 11 ways to practice drums without a drum set…

A drum set isn’t the most portable instrument, and being without one can make you feel like you can’t practice your craft. Never fear, this list is designed to help you improve your musicianship, coordination, and muscle tone. These exercises will help you in a variety of ways, and will make you better the next time you get behind a drum kit.

The best thing about these activities is that you can do them anywhere! Happy practicing!


1. Pillow Practice

No drum set? No practice pad?  No problem! The very best practice pad might just be the one you sleep on each night.

A pillow offers no bounce, so your wrist has to work to lift the stick and bring it back down. Drumming on your pillow is an ideal way to practice those rudiments.

2. Air Drumming

Air drumming, or playing on an imaginary drum set is actually another helpful way to practice drums and build muscles.

Air drumming forces you to work more muscles than playing actual drums or a practice pad.

3. Sing Your Parts

You’re a drummer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some vocal practice!

Sing to memorize and internalize your drum parts.

 4. Recorded Music

Put on headphones, immerse yourself in the song of your choice, and listen.

Active listening involves internalizing the rhythm of the song and learning it by heart.

 5. Body Percussion

Believe it or not, the human body is a walking, talking drum set.

Use handclaps, lap slaps, foot stomps, your belly – anything to practice those parts!

 6. Bucket Practice

Do you have a five-gallon bucket?  Turn it upside down and you can get a workout on this simple drum.

Try practicing some of these drum exercises on your bucket.

 7. Practice Pad

Practice pads come in all kinds of materials, weights, and sizes. Also, there are practice pads to fit every budget.

Others come filled with gel, sand, and pretty much any kind of rubber you can imagine. If you don’t have a rubberized traditional pad, head to the kitchen, grab some pot holders, and get to get to work.

8. Hit the Floor

Of course, the linoleum, tile, carpet, and pavement around you can all be wonderful practice surfaces.

9. Heavy Sticks

Drum sticks come in a wide range of weights, and it’s beneficial to you, dear musician – to try them out!

There are sticks made of heavy metals, like iron, that will make your usual pair feel lighter than feathers.

Try out marching sticks for outdoor drum corps; playing with heavier and lighter sticks can help your musicianship without needing to be behind a drum set.

10. Percussion Grab Bag

Use whatever you can find to practice drums: spoons, hangers, jingle bells, sacks of coins, etc. Use your imagination and have fun!

When you’re a percussionist, the world offers you a great deal of instruments to rattle, hit or shake. Change up your practice by laying out tambourines, jingle bells, or even using what’s in your kitchen drawer.

11.  Apps and Online Drums

Check out your Android or Apple Store for a variety of drumming apps and practice tools. Check out Rudiment Pro, and DRUM COACH 1, for starters.

Plus, there are several websites that allow you to play digital drums. Bookmark your favorites and practice at your computer!


Need more suggestions? Here are a few more ways to practice drums away from the drum set! With so many different options, you can practice drums anytime, anywhere! Choose the method that works best for you and have fun while you practice drums!

How do you practice drums away from your drum kit? Let us know in the comments below! 

Andrea IPost Author: Andrea I.
Andrea I. is a Philadelphia-based English teacher with a lifelong obsession with drums. She has taught drums with Girls Rock Philly, a rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls, and played in various bands. She currently teaches online and in-home lessons in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about Andrea here!

Image courtesy Dakota

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The 4 Most Common Admissions Essay Topics (and How to Approach Them)

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Are you getting your college applications ready? In most cases, you’ll need a copy of your transcript, letters of recommendation, and the often-dreaded admissions essay. To make the process a little easier, read on as Ann Arbor, MI teacher Elaina R. shares some of the most common admissions essay topics you might run into…

 

College admissions essays act as the human element in the otherwise statistic-driven admissions process. Where test scores and GPAs could easily be evaluated by an algorithm, someone has to actually sit down and read your essay. The goal of the college admissions essay is simple: getting to know the person behind the statistics. If you do a good job, the admissions officer gets a little glimpse of your personality that tips the scales in your favor.

Colleges tend to use the same types of essay topics and prompts each year. Knowing what to expect, and remembering to focus on yourself – not your nervous college applicant self, but your real, quirky, interesting self – gives you a good shot at writing an essay worth remembering.

1. A Defining Experience

“Describe an experience that changed your life.” “Tell us about an experience that defines who you are.” This is probably the most common essay topic. While some students have a truly life-changing experience that they want to write about, many others are left wondering whether they should write about winning softball regionals or going to Disney World.

If you are one of the many students without a crazy story to tell, spend some time brainstorming about who you are and what it is you want the admissions committee to know. Small-scale stories can be just as effective as large-scale ones. My own college admissions essay was about a haircut, but I used it to show how I had grown as a person and overcome adversity. It got me into a great school.

2. A Hobby or Interest

When faced with the “Write about your favorite hobby” prompt, many students’ first inclination is to write about an extracurricular already displayed prominently on their application. The admissions officer already know that you are captain of the football team if it says so on your extracurriculars list. That doesn’t mean that you can’t write about the football team (or debate team or drama club), but it does mean you should take a second look first.

Make a list of all of the hobbies and activities you enjoy. Remember, the admissions officer is going to read hundreds of essays about sports, but how many essays will be about baking artisan bread or collecting preserved beetles? Those are the essays admissions officers are more likely to remember.

3. The Role Model Essay

Don’t write about how Albert Einstein is your role model just to impress the admissions officer. Since the goal is getting to know you better, picking a famous historical figure for the wrong reasons could backfire. If Albert Einstein is genuinely your role model and you’ve read dozens of books on him, it will show. If he isn’t, that will show as well.

Make a list of people who have inspired you or made a difference in your life. Your role model could turn out to be your grandmother, a grocery store clerk, or even a fictional character.

4. Why Our University?

Even this question is about you. Admissions officers do not want you to rattle off statistics about their university. They work in the admissions office and probably know all of the statistics already. They know that the school is great; what they want to know is what you would do if you got in.

Do some research on your specific areas of interest within the school. That includes academic departments, professors who have worked in your field, and classes that sound interesting. Look into activities as well – a cappella groups, intramural sports, charitable organizations, and so on. Tell the admissions officer exactly what your life at their school would look like.

No matter what the essay topic is, when writing a college admissions essay, always focus on you. The college admissions committee wants to know who you are and what you have to say. Be honest, be creative, and above all, be yourself.

ElainaElaina R. is a writer, editor, singer, and voice teacher based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her book Slaying Your Admissions Essay Dragon shows how to write application essays that are actually fun to read. Elaina has served as an editor for several notable books as well, including NFL great Adrian Peterson’s autobiography Don’t Dis My Abilities. Learn more about Elaina here!

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Piano Care | How to Clean a Piano

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Not sure how to clean your piano? Check out these tips from Olympia, WA teacher Tali H

 

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “A clean room gives way to a clear mind.” Although I’m not so sure this logic follows for the piano (“a clean piano gives ways to clear playing”), it’s still important to keep your playing area relatively clutter-free and your piano tidy. While caring for the piano is simple, there are a few things to watch out for and some easy steps you can take to make the maintenance minimal. Here are the do’s and don’ts of how to clean a piano:

1. The Do’s

There are two extremely easy ways to keep your piano clean. One, wash your hands before playing every time (just a good 30-second rub down with soap). Most of the dirt that gets on your piano comes from the fingers and hands of people who play it, so taking this preventative step is very important. Then, when you’re done playing, pull the piano lid down over the keys so they’re not exposed to dust, sunlight, or the occasional mishap with spilled drinks, food, etc.

Even with careful preventative care, it’s likely that grease, dirt, and dust will still build up on your piano from time to time. Remove the dust often (a quick once-over before you start playing) with a feather duster or a soft, slightly damp cloth (such as flannel or cheesecloth). I recommend white to avoid discoloration of the keys and using filtered water on the cloth. However, don’t get carried away with cleaning. Only wipe the outside of the piano – leave the inside (which can be more fragile) to the professionals.

2. The Don’ts

When dusting your piano, don’t use a rough or dry cloth (you want to avoid scratching the keys). No paper towels! Also, avoid using mineral water or any type of spray, perfume, polish or aerosol. These have the potential to alter the coloration of the piano or create unfavorable marks.

Avoid getting water in between the keys by wiping up and down one key at a time, rather than across the keys where water can seep into the cracks. Also, have a dry cloth on hand to quickly pat down the wet keys.

3. Whitening the Keys

After your piano is free of dust and dirt, there may still be discoloration. In this case, you’ll want to whiten the keys. The first step is determining what the piano keys are made of (generally plastic, ebony, or ivory). Ivory keys will have a fine split on each key, as they are molded together. Ebony keys have a matte texture and tend to feel more solid. For ivory keys, use milk and gently rub each key, taking caution that the milk doesn’t get inside the piano. This process can be time-consuming. For ebony keys, take a gentle toothpaste, and lightly polish the keys. Next, take a cloth dampened with milk and wash away the toothpaste residue. Pat dry immediately.

Remember the best action for a clean piano is preventative action. So wash your hands before you play and keep the keys hidden under the cover! Also, it helps to have your piano in a cool, dark place. Sun exposure leads to discoloration on the keys. These are some of the best strategies for how to clean a piano and will ensure years of quality music-making!

TaliHTali H. tutors and teaches piano in Olympia, WA, as well as through online lessons. Since 2010, she has worked with numerous students in elementary, middle, high school, and college in both group settings and one-on-one. Learn more about Tali here! 

 

 

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How to Find the Right Voice Teacher for the Long Run

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Want to learn how to sing? Selecting a great voice teacher to take lessons with is your first step! Read on as Chicago and online teacher Ian H. shares his advice for finding the perfect teacher for you…

Finding a teacher whose philosophy fits your learning style is a huge challenge for both student and teacher. It can translate to a great deal of success or stagnancy for young artists developing their voices. Your pace of learning, entering ability, and choice of musical repertoire should all play into how you choose a teacher, though at the forefront of the criteria should be a healthy approach.

With this kind of healthy foundation, your teacher is better able to:

  • Challenge you appropriately for your age, ability, and development
  • Offer support tailored to your specific needs
  • Structure a plan for you and your voice
  • Instill correct technique within each lesson

Keep in mind: healthy singing lends itself to all styles, whereas style does not necessarilyalways lend itself to healthy singing. A singer of any genre is capable of hurting their instrument, though with a healthy approach, artistic and stylistic choices can be made more effectively and bolster your stamina.

So, how can you use this information to make sure you’re working with the right instructor? Always keep in mind that your teacher should:

  • Challenge you without hurting you 

Arts education and musical training have been a huge part of my life ever since I was a very young student. Right as I began to mature vocally, at the age of 18 years old, I grew an inconveniently placed abscess in my tonsil and throat due to a strep infection. This left me tender, scarred, and with a whole new mechanism to learn and sing with. In the very early days of my college years this caused quite a bit of grief in my vocal production, but what absolutely saved me were my private teachers who kept me in a healthy and productive place.

  • Continually focus on your vocal health 

It has taken me years to understand vocal technique, because it takes years to study, learn, and master it. My injury aside, what kept me healthy and capable as a young singer were my teachers and professors devoted to offering me good solid technical foundations to avoid injuries, such as vocal nodules and hemorrhaging. Considering my injury it was extra important that I focus on healthy singing, so as not to burn myself out with bad habits and injury.

  • Structure a plan for you to follow

I felt stifled in my repertoire choices because of what happened with my injury; I wanted to be challenged with operatic arias, interesting song cycles, music far too large for my vocal ability. But had I been given what I wanted, my poor little vocal folds and over-taxed soft palette would have been fried to nothing. Instead, my teachers focused on music with a limited range to help me build stamina, explore the breaks of my voice, and find my breath. We worked to reestablish my understanding of my instrument. I was not the most receptive student to this ‘slow’ and reparative approach, thus slowing my progress down tremendously. Being a brash young man and wanting challenge clouded my judgment, and I failed to see the challenge of building my own instrument. This applies to any style of singing the artist performs; there needs to be an approach from a healthy place.

  • Show you how to get the most out of your voice lessons 

Finding singing teachers and coaches that truly support your progress and vocal ability is vitally important. Those who go into the field of teaching are people who desire to educate people in their chosen craft, they want to do well for their students. Though, not every teacher is a fit for a you. Listening to your body’s defense signals and finding a teacher whose language corresponds with that body language provides and safe and productive environment to learn and grow. Educating yourself is important, practice is important, but more important is you and your teacher knowing your limits and how to push them.

In the early stages of vocal study, looking at technique and health will only inform the art to come. Don’t allow the stars in your eyes to blind you from your future. If you want to sing Jazz but your teacher is giving you simple folk songs, ask him or her what the lesson is. Learning line, breath, and control. Finding color, phrasing, and stamina. Work on yourself so that as you find your style and voice you can continue singing for years to follow.

IanHIan H. teaches singing, acting, piano, and more in Chicago, IL, as well as through online lessons. He has a comprehensive knowledge of classical repertoire, as well as experience in Jazz Standards and Golden Age Broadway tunes. Learn more about Ian here! 

 

 

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March into Spring with TakeLessons

March into SpringSpring is almost here, and we’re definitely feeling the fresh energy of the changing seasons this month. To celebrate, we’re running two fun contests. Whether you’re already taking lessons with us or not, now is a great time to get involved for a chance to win free lessons! Read more

Lil Bub Parties Hard in Andrew W.K. Music Video

Lil Bub is arguably the Internet’s favorite cat. Just this past week, Lil Bub had the great honor of appearing as a guest on Puppy Bowl X, Animal Planet’s super cute alternative to the Super Bowl. Lil Bub has also starred in her own documentary and published a book.

Not too shabby for a kitty born with several genetic mutations that nearly kept her from adoption in the first place. Luckily for Bub, her owner Mike Bridavsky saw true star potential in this tiny cat and she was able to find a loving home.

Now, Lil Bub shows off more talent in “Star Party Animal”, a music video for the song she wrote with party king Andrew W.K. Check out the video below and party hard!

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Are You Tone Deaf? Scientists May Have Found the Cure…

microphoneCan’t match pitch to save your life? Science may have found the cure – or, at least some initial findings that could help adults learn new skills, including music and languages, later in life.

Absolute pitch, the ability to identify and produce specific pitches without a reference point, has long been studied by musicians, psychologists, and neuroscientists. Some people believe it’s something you have to be born with – or, something that must be cultivated at an early age in order to stick, such as through early life exposure and rigorous training in music.

But now, preliminary research has shown that pitch-perfect comprehension may just be a neural tweak away. In one recent study, scientists used valproate, a chemical compound typically found in mood-stabilizing drugs, on subjects with no musical training, coached them on the basics of matching pitch, and then tested them on the material weeks later.

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Unique Gifts for Musicians and Music Lovers

unique giftsNow that the holiday season is in full swing, it’s time to start looking for unique gifts to show the people in your life that you care. Thoughtful gifts that reflect the recipient’s interests are always appreciated, and music fans in particular love gifts that help them feed their passion for music.

Even if you’re not especially musical yourself, shopping for the musicians or music lovers in your life can still be tons of fun! Here is our guide to the quirky, fun, and musical gifts we’d love to unwrap this year. Read more

Tips for Traveling with Your Instrument

travel with instrumentsWith the holidays approaching, many musicians, music students, and music teachers are starting to make their travel plans. Sure, you’ve got plane tickets and turkey on your mind, but don’t forget about your practice time! Most musicians can easily travel with their instruments with just a little extra preparation, so there’s no need for the holidays to disrupt your music-making.

Can you bring a guitar on a plane? What about a flute? Does your violin need any extra care while traveling? Read on for answers to these questions and more… Read more