Posts

Values of Teaching Rote Music

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Before I jump right in to some of the reasons why I like rote teaching, let me give a little definition of what that actually means here. In the music teaching world, Rote Teaching means we teach the music without a sheet for the student to follow. Typically this is done by demonstration and repetition. I decided to try including some rote teaching about 6 years ago after learning about some of the possible benefits, and today I'm sharing some of the big positives I've seen in my own students since then! 5 Benefits of Rote Teaching for Beginners Building Technique I use a lot of the Piano Safari pattern pieces and animal techniques for beginning students. These are short pattern pieces that often focus on a specific skill or technique for striking the keys. Teaching these skills without having the added work of reading sheet music and translating that into notes means young students can really focus on how it feels  in their hands and fingers to play the given technique. Thes

When Christmas Comes to Town - Sheet Music

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Who else grew up reading The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and then double checking that you could still hear the jingle bell tree ornaments every Christmas? It can't be just me, right? I remember being pretty excited when the movie came out many years ago now, and I still tend to watch it each year during December. But it was only a year or two ago that I actually got the itch to play some of the music. Inspiration is funny, sometimes it just hits you after years of enjoying a thing and you suddenly want to engage with it in a new way.  Now, being a full time piano teacher means that the majority of the arrangements I actually sit down to write tend to be with students in mind. BUT every once in a while, I'll have the itch to play a song myself, and not be able to find an arrangement that I love. Last Christmas I had that happen with the song When Christmas Comes to Town from the  The Polar Express.  I had just finished working on an arrangement of Believe arr. by Tom Ro

New Christmas Sheet Music

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It's Christmastime! And holiday tunes are a major feature in the studio right now as we're learning parts for the Multi-Piano & Guitar Christmas Festival , as well as some special solos to play at those cozy family gatherings.  Over the years, I've arranged many holiday favorites for student requests, and I've wanted to share these arrangements more broadly for quite a while, but when I first started publishing music through SMP Press , these titles were not among those I could publish. I just recently thought to check again to see if they had been added to the ArrangeMe copyright list - AND THEY HAD! 👏 So today, I am sharing a whole bunch of popular Christmas songs ( Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree and Winter Wonderland!)  arranged for beginning and early intermediate piano solo that are now published with the sheet music available on SheetMusicPlus. Most of these arrangements have been used in

Finding Balance

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Just a heads up to any regular readers that this blog post is going to be more reflective, a little personal, and not necessarily the usual fare here on this blog. However, I do think the thoughts are valuable, both to piano students as well as just in general. Or maybe I just need to process them out loud somewhere, and if that's the case, thank you for indulging me.  Some context: Several years ago I was working 6 days a week as a traveling piano teacher, then waking up early for rehearsal to play piano in church on Sundays, and often taking a shift or two a week at my second job at an independent bookstore. I also had plans most nights keeping up with friends & family. I was hustling with a capital 'H'. All the time. And I loved everything that I did. Teaching was rewarding, and the bookstore was my happy place. This was a pace I'd kept up without any trouble for almost 10 years starting back when I was in college, and I didn't have a strong reason to change

Practice Pie - Book Review!

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Practice Pie by Nicola Cantan is a step-by-step guide to helping your child enjoy their music practice. After I heard about it on a recent episode of the Piano Parent Podcast , I wondered if it might be something I'd want to recommend to my studio piano parents, so I grabbed a copy to check it out.  A few things I really liked: First, the book is short. At only 50 pages, it doesn't take long at all to read, making it perfect for busy piano parents. And at the same time it's to the point, and chock-full of encouragement and practical steps for piano parents to try with their piano kids in home practice. Nicola writes in a very conversational style, so it sort of feels like you're just having a chat with someone who has some really fun and helpful ideas.  You can probably tell from the title, but the book uses baking a pie as an analogy for practicing an instrument, from choosing the right pie dish, to each of the ingredients for the crust and filling, each element of the

Young Composers 2021

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Drumroll please! I am proud to present our 8th annual Young Composers Project for 2021! What is Young Composers? Each summer at Dawn's Piano, continuing students get to dig into creating original music and learning about the composing process. In just a handful of lessons, students write, notate, practice and record tracks for their original music. This is a highly anticipated season by the students, and I am often asked throughout the year 'when will we get to do that thing where we write our own music again?'. For this project, I also intentionally choose to use software that is free or included with an OS ( Noteflight for notating, GarageBand for recording), so that the programs we learn can be accessible for students to continue exploring and creating on their own if they are so inclined.  For students who truly enjoy the process of creating music, this opens doors and helps them find ways into exploring that. And for all students, whether they're jazzed by creati

One Minute Club!

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Lessons begin this week, and for this year's BIG practice challenge we're going to start a studio One Minute Club . This is a challenge that's been floating around the piano teaching world for a while, but I first heard of it on Susan Paradis' blog  several years back. And I think it's the one for us this year as we continue to build our sight reading fluency across all learning levels.  To get into the One Minute Club, all you have to do is to play all the notes in your assigned flash cards in under a minute! In the studio we'll be using Note Rush during piano lab to build the skills and try to gain entry into the club. Any students who hit their target during lessons will get added to the One Minute Club studio wall chart, AND will receive an official membership card and a prize. (I'm thinking gift certificates to the Pink Flamingo  candy shop , or something equivalent in your area for online students, so you know, prizes your piano kid is going to want!