Showing posts from 2019

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…

Piano Video Log

Progress in piano study can be difficult to recognize because it is so gradual. This can sometimes feel discouraging for the student, because even though we make strides from week to week, it's not always easily measurable from the student's perspective. The best way to remedy this is to track and celebrate long term progress. Those who follow the studio on social media will know that I often share student videos. In addition to celebrating current success, these videos can also be a way of marking where we've been so at a later time students can look back and see how far they've come. But you can go further than this by keeping a video or audio journal of your child's piano progress. 

In episode 128 of the Piano Parent Podcast Shelly gives us some tips on how to keep just such a video or audio journal of a piano student's musical journey.

You can listen to the episode right here, or read the full show notes on the podcast's website

One of the added benef…

Summer 2019 Enrollment

Enrollment for the Summer Session at Dawn's Piano is officially open! For new beginning students, Summer is a terrific time to try out piano lessons and see if they are a good fit for you before committing to the coming school year. 

For existing students, or those who have a little musical experience, summer is when we get to stretch our creativity with a Young Composers project. What this means is each student who participates will work on composing an original piece of music, notating it, and recording it. At the end of the summer we will publish an e-book & album of all the collected compositions. Because tuition at Dawn's Piano is always all-inclusive, this program is no extra cost to you! Check out one of the past Young Composers projects here.

Here's how summer session works: 
Session runs from June 11th-Aug 2nd (8 weeks). The studio is open for lessons Tuesday-Friday 11:00am-7:00pm Tuition is one fee paid by May 31st, calculated on the cost of 6 lessons, so you…

2019 Spring Recital

Save the date for our Spring Recital! 
When: Saturday, April 27th at 1:30 pm Where: The recital will be hosted at the Free Methodist Church at 1010 S Maple St, McPherson. To tune in online, head over to our Facebook Event for details. This Spring Recital will also mark the end of our 2018/2019 School Year in the studio, and so we will be showcasing & celebrating what students have learned and achieved since the session began in August. This is also the end of our 20 piece challenge that launched last August. This means if every student has completed their 20 pieces by the recital date, we will have an ice cream party for the reception! 

What about online students? 
You will participate by recording video of your performance to be played during the recital. And my hope is that you'll be able to tune in and watch the recital from home with a conference call or a youtube livestream. More details will be coming your way in the coming weeks.

Who can come?

For many…

Bloom - New Spring Sheet Music

During my first winter in Kansas, I - like so many others in cooler climates - find myself hoping for Spring. And it is from that anticipation of the changing seasons that these compositions took shape.

Bloom is a collection of 5 spring-themed compositions for piano solo. Each solo in the book is distinct, and offers unique teaching points for piano students. The variety of styles will bring new life to Springtime recitals, or provide a refreshing variety for a hobby pianist to enjoy playing at home. As has become tradition in my Seasons Series, for the creatively inclined or curious, one of the pieces includes an invitation to improvise your own passages within the piece. The music is leveled at intermediate, and would be appropriate for pianists of all ages. 

This collection celebrates the newness of life as Winter fades and Spring begins to bloom again. It explores the rejuvenation we feel as the world wakes up around us, as we hear the gentle rain of a spring shower or see the gree…

Stage Fright - tips from Jenny Leigh Hodgins

Most everybody experiences some level of stage fright when preparing to perform for an audience, audition, or examiner. And it's completely understandable, we are showcasing something that we've put a lot of preparation into, and we want our performance to reflect our hard work, to show what we're capable of, and to bring our audience enjoyment. But what can we do when the nerves start to take over?

Today I'm sharing some tips from fellow music blogger, Jenny Leigh Hodgins' siteall about turning those nerves into a positive performance energy. Hodgins shares 4 big tips for nervous performers (plus a couple bonus ones at the end) and I hope you'll find them as useful as I did. With the KMTA Progressions & our studio Spring Recital just around the corner, I think these will definitely come in handy in the coming months!
1. "get as many performing opportunities as possible and frequently!"This is absolutely the number one way to become a confident per…


This may date me a little bit, but when I was a kid, I think starting around age 5, I had tape player that I put right next to my bed, and I started collecting different tapes, often mix tapes (read: playlists) that my mom, uncle or grandpa had made for me. Whenever I was hanging out in my room and it felt too quiet, I would hit play on whatever my favorite at the time was.

One aspect of music learning that can easily be overlooked between getting through songs in lessons & practice time at home is listening. Listening to music often can go a very long way to help train a young musician's ear for music making. Today's post is all about reminding us to expose piano kids to music on a regular basis.
How does music listening really help? Exposure to new music & genres. If we listen to a broad spectrum of music, we learn the styles, rhythms, and sounds of different types of music in an organic way. This makes it easier to reproduce them later on.Listening to different inte…

Practice Tips & Tricks: Visualization

My final practice trick for you this month is visualization. If you've played sports or done other competitive activities, you may have heard of this before as a training technic. And it does work in practicing your instrument as well. If you follow the blog regularly, you may have caught my book review of This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin last month. In reading it I learned that when we imagine doing something, the same portions of our brains fire up as though we were actually doing it. This is why visualization actually can work. 

When I am using visualization to practice a piece of music, I like to have the sheet music in front of me and I read along at the performance tempo, and mentally 'play' the piece. I know which fingers fall on each note, I hear the piece in my head, I know which parts get louder or softer. I rehearse all the elements minus actually playing it on a piano.

Some variations to make this do-able for beginning students:
Your piano kid could t…

Practice Tips & Tricks: Backing Tracks

Backing tracks are my favorite new practice tool! I'd been using them a little bit for the past couple years, but after moving & transitioning to lots of online lessons where playing in-person duets is not as feasible anymore, backing tracks have taken center stage. And after implementing them so successfully with online students, I've also started using them more with my in-studio students too!

So what is a backing track? 
A backing track is a recorded accompaniment that your piano student plays their piece along with. It can either be a piano duet part or a full band accompaniment. If there are backing tracks for your music, I will bring them to your attention so you can arrange to have access to them at home. 

And how do we use them? 
Start by listening. If your piano kid hasn't heard the backing track yet, listen to it first. When available, listen to the version with the melody included, so your piano kid can hear their part & how it fits with the accompaniment.

Practice Tips & Tricks: Metronome

Before you groan & go back to browsing Facebook or checking your email, hear me out. Metronomes don't have to be drudgery. They don't have to make your piano kid rage-y. They can be do-able, and they are definitely effective for those of us who struggle with pacing (sometimes this is me too, y'all). If you've had metronome related meltdowns, I know you're probably reading along and feeling pretty skeptical that this might actually work with your kid, but metronomes have seen some fun developments in recent years that make them a little more kid-friendly, a maybe even a little more hip. 

So first up, let me tell you about some of my favorite metronome app: 

Super Metronome Groove Box Available on iTunes & Amazon for Android
If you want something that's going to give you fun drum beats to play along with, this is the app you want. It's not free, but it does have a lite version you can download to try out. The full version has LOTS of beat options. You…

Practice Tips & Tricks: Games!

Happy New Year! We know the new year is a great time to get a fresh start & form some new habits. So to kick off 2019, I'll be sharing a series of blog posts all about my favorite practice tools & tricks complete with tips for how to help you use them at home! Teachers & parents alike, we all know that piano practice is necessary, and sometimes the discipline to keep it going can be tricky. But many of the tools that us teachers use in lessons to make things engaging & interesting can be adapted for easy use at home so your piano kid is digging into their music in new & fun ways. This helps piano students to grow into well-rounded musicians because they develop a whole toolkit full of ways to engage with and make music.

To kick off this series, I'm going to talk about games. Gamification is an incredibly effective learning tool. Did you know that on average it takes 400 repetitions for the human brain to create a new neural pathway? BUT if we're having …