Posts

2021 Word of the Year

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Just a heads up readers that this blog post is going to feel a little different from the usual fare here. This is mostly some personal musings on the year that's past, the one that's coming, and the role that music plays in my internal process. So, if you're just here for the practice ideas, piano studio news, or musical projects from wonderful young musicians, feel free to skip this one. But if you are someone who is also interested in musings, and choosing a word of the year, read on.  Choosing a word of the year is something I've started doing the past few years as a way to help frame the mindset I want to have as I head into a new year. I've found it more effective than resolutions for getting me closer to who I want to be. Looking back at the beginning of 2020, I chose Ease.  Little did I know how important that word would become as we had to collectively navigate our way through an entirely unprecedented year. And in the chaos, I did find myself coming back to

'Get Smart' Practice Challenge

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Our practice challenge for January is going to be based off an improvisational teaching acrostic, Get SMART, introduced to me by Shelly Davis of the piano parent podcast several years back.  You can listen to that podcast episode below to hear examples of students Getting Smart with their music.  The word SMART stands for  Style, Melody, Articulation, Rhythm  and  Tempo . And our challenge for this January will be for students to put their own spin on each of these elements into music of their choosing. Once they've given their own creative interpretation to a piece on each of the 5 musical elements, they'll have completed the challenge!  This is going to be very open-ended and student led because: Students can use the same music for all 5, so they end up with 5 different versions of the same piece, or choose different music for different elements along the way. Students can work through SMART in any order, they don't have to start with Style if they'd rather start wi

Multi-Piano & Guitar Christmas Festival

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We did it! We pulled off the Multi-Piano Christmas Festival 2020 edition, and now we get to sit back and enjoy the show. Each of these students worked hard preparing their pieces, and each teacher sat down with us to brainstorm how we could safely host this event this year, and here is the result. Thank you to everyone for your hard work!  You can watch the video below OR join us over on the MAPTL Facebook page for a live premiere where we will all watch in real time on Saturday, December 19th at 4:00pm.  If you would like a program of the evening's performances, you can download that here .  And with that, we proudly present this year's Multi-Piano and Guitar Christmas Festival. 

Piano Parent Podcast: Wintertime TLC for your Acoustic Piano

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One of the secret upsides for me as a teacher about switching to more online lessons this year has been that I get to see and hear my student's home instruments. This helps me understand what may be causing certain technical and aural road blocks in a student's progress. Learn more about why having a well maintained home practice instrument can make a big impact on a student's progress here. .  So today's post is a seasonal reminder to give your piano a little TLC with this episode from the Piano Parent Podcast that aired last winter. Our instruments respond to the changes in temperature and humidity in their environment, the same way we do, and there are a few simple things we can do to improve their functionality and longevity. Hit play on the episode below, or check out the shownotes on the Piano Parent Podcast website  to learn more.  If your piano is due for its annual tuning, call your technician to schedule it today! In McPherson, that's  Chuck over at Sounds

Christmastime in the Piano Studio

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Can you believe it's already December? As we head into our final month of 2020 in the piano studio, I wanted to share a bit of what December looks like for us. What students will be working on, and how we add a little celebratory touch to our lessons for the holiday season. If you're a fellow piano teacher reading this, you can also read this as a little roundup of some of my favorite holiday resources.  Performance Prep & Holiday Rep We are gearing up for our Multi-Piano Christmas Festival, and will have our recording day in just a couple weeks! So this first week or two of December our focus will be on preparing for that festival, and polishing off any other Christmas repertoire or solo selections we've learned. We'll also make a list of our Seasonal Songs to Share so students have selections all chosen and ready to go for those family celebrations or quiet winter evenings over the break.  Lots of Games We'll get our music theory review in with some fun holi

Value of Duet & Ensemble Practice

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One of my favorite things to do in lessons is to play duets with students, or better yet, have them play in ensemble with each other. We even have an entire performance centered around ensemble and collaborative piano skills with our Multi-Piano & Guitar Christmas Festival every year. So why do we make a point to play along with other musicians in our piano study? In this post we'll look at the unique benefits and musicianship skills we learn in collaborative music making.  Builds Focus Something as simple as starting a song at the same time requires young students to focus in on their music and the directions they are being given. If we are working over a specific section and their instructions are to start from a certain measure, and they start at the wrong spot, that is a great teaching moment to be sure we are practicing both listening and understanding the instructions that are given. While playing a duet, each note also becomes more important, and passages that a student

Autumn Video Recital

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It's here! Our Fall Video Recital is up and available for viewing. You can watch it below, or join us over on the studio Facebook page for a 'Video Premier' at 11:00am on Saturday, November 7th where we will watch it together and students can see the applause and encouragement coming in the comments in real time during the performance.  If you would like a program of this show to follow along with or to have as a keepsake for your piano kid, you can download that here.  Thank you for joining us for this performance!