Posts

Young Composers 2022

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Last week we wrapped up our Summer Session here in the studio, and with it we also completed our 9th annual Young Composers project!  What is Young Composers? In this project each summer continuing students work on creating original music, from coming up with musical ideas to typing up sheet music and eventually recording a track of the completed work.  This project is an excellent way to solidify the music theory knowledge that we learn throughout the year, while also getting to enjoy a little change of pace and focus for the summer months. Working on typing and recording the music also gives students a little experience with the digital side of creating music - an essential skill for many of today's musicians. I intentionally choose to use software that has free versions available for this project, so that if students want to continue to explore composing on their own, they've learned on software that is easily accessible to them. (We use Noteflight for notation and Garage

Gardening & Piano Study

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One hobby that I've really grown to love in the past few years is gardening - especially now that we have a yard with space for me to grow things! And I've learned a lot from watching my flowers get established and eventually bloom. Some of these lessons can apply to piano lessons as well. And so in today's post, I'll be sharing 3 things I've learned from gardening that apply to learning piano.  1. It takes time. I got to celebrate my very first peony blooms this year. I planted them as root cuttings back in 2019. The first spring they came up small, second year I had a bit more foliage, and now in year three we finally got to enjoy some blooms.  There's a saying in the gardening world when establishing perennial plants, and perhaps you've heard it before: "First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap." And this is because perennials are long-lived plants that will bloom year after year once established. But they do require t

Espressivo Piano Camp 2022

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Summer Day Camps are a major feature of summer for lots of children, and I am especially proud of our local Espressivo Piano Camp and what we are able to offer piano students for that first week of June each year. In this blog post, I wanted to share some highlights from this year's camp! One of my favorite sessions at piano camp for encouraging student curiosity and broadening musical experience and understanding, is our guest teacher session that happens in the middle of our week. This year we had pianist and organist Steve Gustafson come and give us an introduction to the organ. We learned a bit of the instrument's long history, and how it dates way back to before the Roman Era, and students got to pass around a few of the different types of pipes as we listened to the sounds they make and learned about the different stops and manuals on the organ.  Students even got the chance to volunteer to play the organ! Here are a couple Dawn's Piano students who gave it a try:  Ou

Spring Recital for Online Students 2022

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It's Recital Day, hooray! While local students are headed down to our in-person venue, our online student showcase is right here for you to enjoy!  During our Spring Semester, students with this studio have been working hard during lessons and in home practice to prepare these recital selections and get them recorded to share with you today. I am proud to present our Spring Recital Video featuring students learning online with Dawn's Piano.  Recitals are when piano students get their big celebratory moment, and having family and friends cheer them on is an incredible validation that what they are learning is important. If you enjoy a particular students performance, let them know by telling them directly, or by adding a comment applauding them in the video's comments. I will be sure any comments are passed on to the students. Thank you for watching, and for making music a valuable part of these students' lives. Click Image to download a PDF of the program

Ear Training Resources for Piano Students

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Ear Training is an essential musicianship skill. It's what allows us to hear when a note is out of place in a piece of music, or to pick out a melody by ear. It's one half of audiating, the true musician superpower which combines both sight and ear training to be able to read and 'listen' to a piece of music in our heads.  Some of the beginning stages of ear training are to recognize things like directional movement (whether the notes are going up, down or staying the same), distance (if they're skipping, stepping or jumping over an interval), and quality (if we hear a major or minor chord or interval). This week's post is a round-up of some simple ways to practice Ear Training at home to help your piano kid develop and grow in this direction out of lessons.  Auralia While Auralia does offer a full curriculum for classroom & college teachers to assign to students ear training, in our studio we choose to isolate specific skills with the Auralia iOS apps . Wh

Podcast Chat on Finger Numbers

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I have long been a supporter, occasional guest, and regular behind-the-scenes contributor to the P iano Parent Podcast for several years now. And over that time I've shared many of my favorite episodes right here on the blog because I think it is a truly valuable resource for parents of piano students. So while I was meeting with Shelly, the podcast's host, to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming quarter, she invited me to record a quick teacher chat episode with her all about finger numbers and hand placement.  If you've ever wondered w hy we bother about finger numbers, h ow important they are really, or w hat the long term goal in prescribing finger numbers and hand placement in early music might be, then this episode is a worthwhile listen. Shelly & I both share our thoughts on hand placement, how we handle certain challenges in our teaching, and most importantly we have a few simple tips to help piano parents support learning good finger habits in home practice.  I in

Three Reasons I Teach Chord Charts

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One thing a lot of people imagine being able to do when they take piano lessons, or sign their child up for piano lessons, is to just sit down and play at family gatherings or parties. Perhaps we even think of eventually being able to take requests of everything from classical or contemporary solo selections, to popular music that other musicians could jam along with or the crowd could sing along to.  And this can sometimes be a tricky area of expectation vs reality because classical playing and 'jamming' can feel like two separate musicianship skills until we mature as musicians enough to see the overlap.   Chord charts and lead sheets are tools that a lot of modern bands, worship teams, etc, use to pick up a song together quickly. They serve as a guide without prescribing every single note.  I've talked on the blog in the past about lead sheets . So in today's blog post, I'm sharing 3 reasons why I choose to introduce chord charts to my older students' piano s