This app provides a fun place for your students to meet and share their travails and triumphs. It is where you as the teacher provide their assignments and track your students’ progress.
I don’t know if you were in such a situation, but even though I thought I had a great system worked out to monitor my lessons and my students, it was actually quite time consuming.
At any given lesson I had the following open on my computer or iPad screen:
- a spreadsheet, which held information about that student, including what books they were using, where they were in that book, and what the current assignment was
- an assignment page for each student – this was what I filled with each assignment, with helpful comments and deadlines, and notes to parents
- an email for each student – so that I could complete the assignment page, convert it to a PDF document, and send to the student.
This system demanded a lot of time, and I felt like I was spending too much time with my head in the computer and not enough time directly relating to the student.
Then I started a free 30-day trial of Tonara. What a change this has made in my teaching day, and in my students’ learning!
SETTING THINGS UP
During the first weekend I had Tonara, I populated it with my students’ info, sent out invitations to them, and lent a hand where needed. I also took time to learn about all of its functionality via the site’s video tutorials, and with the help of Lou Ann Pope, who guided me personally through the depth of ways Tonara can be used.
Since then, I have been adding in repertoire. I’m spending a few minutes each day front loading regularly assigned pieces, and I’m also adding what pops up in any given lesson. While it has been time consuming to get started, I’m already finding the benefits of having everything ready to roll.
Anybody who knows me, knows I am an organizing nut! It’s the way my brain works, and I need everything in place to be sharp and have the most energy to give my students.
Tonara is a wonderful friend in that respect. I can create a folder with the name of the piece. In that folder, I can put a PDF of the piece, a recording I’ve made, a tutorial video of any challenging points in the piece, and even a duet part. In addition to that, I can build out the experience by including references to art or something in their lives.
A couple of days ago, I loaded the song, “Caution,” from Music Tree Part 1. As it’s about a bumblebee, I included a photo of a bee on a beautiful flower, and a link to a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”
During a lesson yesterday, instead of going through the rigamarole that I used to do with my old system, I was able to click to add that piece to my student’s assignment, and *bing* it was there in all its richness for my student to enjoy over the next week. The best part is that I was able to maintain contact and continue the flow of the lesson while I did that.
Of course, this makes it fun for the student. It’s like opening a surprise gift to see what’s inside!
Another aspect of Tonara that I really appreciate is that it provides a sense of community for my studio, even during this time of separation. How does the app do that?
My students can connect in between group gatherings. They can support each other with encouraging words and stickers, and they can enjoy a little positive peer pressure by seeing where they stand amongst their friends on the leaderboard. That friendly competitive element has stimulated students to do more, and as a result, I have seen overall practice time and productivity increase. (click here to read more about the student experience)
There is no fee for the students to use the app. While some studios are charging a fee to their students to cover the studio’s cost of using the app, I find it’s only a few cents per month per student. I’m willing to roll that into the benefits my studio offers. Click here for pricing.
Currently the app is available as a desktop platform, as well as an app format for iOS and Android devices. The desktop platform is currently only available to the teachers, and this is where you will find all the tools you need to run your studio.
Because Tonara has received massive enrollment in the past couple of months, they have been hard pressed at times to keep up with the growth. However, they are diligent about handling the issues, and they listen well to their users’ wishes. Suggestions are often integrated in a matter of days!
If you haven’t already taken a look at this app, I highly recommend that you do. It’s backed by a company with a lot of heart and integrity, and it will make your daily teaching life so much easier!
PS I am not being compensated in any way, shape, or form to review the Tonara app. All opinions expressed in this article are my own. If you already use Tonara, please share your experiences in the comment section.