Why do we Apologize for 'Wrong' Notes?

It happens to all of us, we hit a wrong note and out slips an "oops, sorry!" as we play on. I know I'm guilty of this, particularly when playing a duet or accompaniment, and I hear students apologizing *all the time* in lessons for missed or wrong notes. 

So why do we do this? My feeling is that this tendency points to an underlying fear of making mistakes, or of letting our teacher or fellow musicians down. In today's post, I'd like to offer some alternatives to apologizing and try to reshape some of our thinking around those inevitable hiccups. 

You may be familiar with the Bob Ross quote pictured here, or at least have seen it floating around the internet. I know I've seen this 'happy little accidents' thinking applied to all sorts of life situations. And I do think that this can be really beneficial thinking for artists & musicians. 

So what can we do when we make a mistake instead of apologizing?

'Jazz it Up'
This is the musician's ver…

Enrolling for the 2019/2020 School Year

It's time to start reserving your spots for piano lessons during the 2019-2020 school year! With enrollments already coming in, Fall session is going to fill up quickly. Keep reading for this year's important dates, how to reserve your spot, and an exciting addition to the studio.

Session Calendar:

The school year session will begin on Tuesday, August 13th and will end with our Recital on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020. The studio is open for lessons Tuesday-Friday 1:00-7:00, and will be closed for holidays on these dates:
The week of Thanksgiving - Nov. 25-29Two weeks for Christmas break - Dec. 21-Jan 4 Spring Break - TBD, will align with USD 418When you have questions, remember the studio Calendar is always available here, or at the 'Calendar' tab above. 

 How to Enroll

Current students will be given priority enrollment via the email newsletters until July 22nd, at which point enrollment will open up to the waitlist. This is to ensure that those who have been taking lessons h…

Million Dreams - Beginning Piano Sheet Music

It's time for another Sheet Music feature! This piece has been a very popular one in our studio this year after one student performed it in our Fall Recital. And I have to say, I'm loving the way it's motivating practice and musicality in young students. 
A Million Dreams, arranged here for late beginning piano, offers young musicians the chance to play a solo that is familiar and sure to inspire. It will also stretch beginning pianists to play expressively and carry the melody between two hands. The use of the pedal provides an optional extra layer for later beginners. 
You can listen to this arrangement, and preview the sheet music below. This music is published through Sheet Music Plus.
look insideA Million Dreams - Easy Piano Solo By The Greatest Showman. Arranged by Dawn Ivers. Solo Part. 4 pages. Published by Dawn Ivers (H0.401931-SC000017506).
If you are interested in publishing your own arrangements & compositions, use this affiliate link to get s…

Tips if Purchasing a Used Piano

Having a good instrument to regularly practice on is a key component of a successful piano experience. And this is something that I've touched on before in this blog post from a few years back all about choosing the right type of instrument (acoustic/digital) for your home practice environment. An acoustic piano is an excellent choice because you get the full action & resonance of the instrument. The flip side is that acoustic pianos require annual maintenance, and they can be more expensive to purchase up front. This is where used pianos come in, often students can find inexpensive or free used pianos available. So how do you know when it's worth it? What makes a used piano a good bet? Today's post is going to provide some tips into shopping for a used acoustic piano.
Take a piano technician If you're seriously considering an instrument, I'd recommend taking a piano technician with you. This is akin to having your mechanic look over a used car before purchasin…

Tips on Relocating a Piano Studio - reflecting on this time last year

This one's for the other studio owners & private music teachers! Most of you who've followed the studio for any length of time will know that around this time last year I relocated from Southern California to Central Kansas, and rebuilt my studio in our new town. Going in, I knew that one of the things that would be vital when relocating was building awareness in the community and to get that crucial word-of-mouth going, so I did several things to get the word out locally with pretty good success. It definitely didn't hurt that the town I moved into really supports the arts, and there was more demand than current piano teachers in the area already. Within 3 months the studio had hit a good running capacity, and 6 months in enrollment was capped out with a waitlist. 

Since then, I've often seen posts in the online music teaching groups from other studio owners asking for tips or advice on how to successfully rebuild their studios after a move, so today I'm sharin…

Post-Recital Thoughts - And continuing lessons!

This past Saturday (April 27th) students of Dawn's Piano gave their Spring Recital, and if I do say so myself, I thought we had a terrific show! Being a studio that relocated just this year means that we had lots of beginning students participating in their first ever recital with a few seasoned intermediate students sprinkled in. I enjoyed seeing the confidence on stage, and the personality & musical expression of each student as they performed. It was fun to have them cheer each other on, and share compliments after the show during our Ice Cream Reception (which was earned when each student completed the 20 Piece Challenge!).

Online students from the Pasadena area also had a live Recital on Saturday, where they performed in the joint studio recital of my former associate teachers Aki Saito & Mallory Byers. Dawn's Piano was represented by 5 students there, and I'm so proud of each of their progress in adapting to an online lesson format and continuing to grow in th…

Sight Reading 101: Support for Home Practice

To wrap up this month's blog series all about sight reading, I'm sharing some easy-to-implement ways to support your piano kid in building this essential musicianship skill during home practice time.

The best thing you can do is to simply make sight reading a regular part of home practice. This doesn't have to take more than a minute or two each practice, and is as simple as getting your student to look at notes in a new order and play them. Doing this regularly will build into a confident sight reading ability.

 Daily Sight Reading Exercises
Apps are my personal favorite because they gamify the sight reading process for students. And the best part about all of the examples below is that they use the mic on your phone or tablet so your student can practice sight reading on your piano, not just a screen.Piano Maestro - this one is the star of the piano lab at the studio! A very robust app that introduces new notes & technics with tutorial videos, then students play piece…

Sightreading 101: Audiation

Thank you for joining in on this Sightreading 101 series, if you're joining us now and haven't checked out the previous weeks, you can find them here! 

I know I've said this series of posts was going to be all about sight reading, but I sorta fibbed. Today I'm talking about one of the valuable skills that musicians have that definitely relates to sight reading, but is really a skill in and of itself, and that is Audiation. Audiation is the ability to 'hear' or comprehend music internally in the absence of the actual sounds that would comprise it. This can be with or without sheet music, but being able to read sheet music while comprehending the sounds can really take our sight reading to the next level. I think the best way to introduce this is with a picture. A little while back, this image made the rounds among the classical music circles on social media.

And I think this sums up the idea quite nicely. This really is a musicianship superpower. And while it may …

Sightreading 101: Intervallic Reading

Welcome to week 3 of this Sightreading 101 blog series! If you read last week's post, you may have noticed that several times I mentioned the 'relationship between the notes,' today we're getting into what I meant by that in a discussion of "intervallic reading." So, jumping right in:

The movement from one note to another, or the relationship between one note & the next, is described in music theory as an interval. Intervals can be a step from one note to the following, a skip, or a leap from a low note to a higher note or vice versa. Intervals are given numbers depending on how far the movement is. For example,
One note to the adjacent note is a "second" because they're two notes apart. A skip over one note is described as a "third" because they're three notes apart.If the notes are 7 keys apart, we call them a seventh, and so on. The line below shows us what each interval can look like on the staff.

You may be thinking this mu…

Sightreading 101: Landmark Notes

Here we go into week 2 of our deep dive into sight reading. If you missed last week's post and are wondering why we bother with this, check it out here

This week we're talking about landmark notes - what they are and how they help: Landmark notes are a handful of strategically placed notes, that when memorized, make sight reading simple & intuitive without having to memorize a bunch of mnemonic devices,* or memorizing the locations of every single note on the staff.

The first 3 landmark notes are very simple. Middle C (the one with the 'whiskers'), Treble G on line 2 of the treble clef, and Bass F on line 4 of the bass clef. These are often the first 3 notes beginning students learn in their first few lessons with me, because learning these 3 from the start establishes the relationship between the notes & the staff with 3 easily distinguishable notes (they're not too close together). When we move forward and learn how to find the remaining notes, we reinfo…

Sight Reading 101: Why bother?

Hello everyone, and Happy Spring! I'm going to be kicking off the Spring season with a blog series all about sight-reading. I've definitely touched on this in the past, especially with some app recommendationsover the years, but I've not dedicated any blog space to why we bother learning it, or to really dig into how we can help young pianists train their brains to be successful at it. So this April, we're diving deep into sight reading!

Today's post is about the 'why': 
Why do we bother learning sight reading?
Music literacy - Playing music vs. reading it is often compared to speaking vs. reading language because all of the reasons we value language literacy translate to musical literacy as well. It's universal - you can hand any classically trained musician anywhere in the world a piece of sheet music, and they'll be able to turn it into music. Much like language can cross borders & build bridges, so can music, and music literacy makes the commu…

Summer 2019 Espressivo Piano Camp

If you're looking for a great way to kick off piano study for the summer, you'll definitely want to check out Espressivo Piano Camp.

What is Espressivo Piano Camp, who's it for and what are the benefits? 
EPC is a summer day camp for piano students from elementary (entering 2nd grade in fall 2019 and up) through advancing levels hosted & run by the local KMTA chapter. It provides an opportunity for local piano students from different studios to interact and become a part of the larger musical community in McPherson. Since the camp is run by area piano teachers, students will get valuable learning & feedback from teachers beyond their usual studio experience.We get to focus on extra-musical learning, such as music history, composition & theory, performance classes, aural skills, rhythm etc in a group setting. All those things that can often get squished into the last few minutes of typical lessons can now take center stage. The camp also includes 2 performances! …

Africa by Toto - Sheet Music

One of my current students asked to learn this song, and I must say this was a fun piece to put together for late beginning piano. I strongly encourage my students to pursue playing the music they like, because it connects us to our own learning process and demonstrates the value of the skill we are learning.

This pop/rock classic offers good practice in syncopation, changing key signatures and dynamic range. Because the themes are repetitive, it works well as a late beginning piano solo with only a couple rhythms & passages to work out, and then the player's job is just to follow the patterns and repeats, and have fun.

As with all my arrangements of popular pieces, the sheet music is available for purchase on Sheet Music Plus where you can also preview the sheet music.

look insideAfrica by Toto - Easy Piano Solo By Toto. Solo Part. 6 pages. Published by Dawn Ivers (H0.510797-SC000003618).
You can also hear a short preview of this arrangement in the video belo…