Showing posts from July, 2019

Just the Way You Are - Sheet Music

Over the years I have had several students of different ages and levels request to learn Just the Way You are by Bruno Mars , because of that have ended up with two differently leveled arrangements, and now for the first time, both are available on SheetMusicPlus . Up until this point, I have had the early intermediate version available, and even though the song is now a few years old, it has consistently been one of the best sellers in my SMP Press store, so I decided to go ahead and make the more advanced version available as well. This piece works well as an audience-pleasing piano recital piece, background music at a wedding reception, anniversary party, or just to play for our own enjoyment. The cool thing about having a couple arrangements of one piece is we can talk a little bit more about arranging music for different pedagogical levels (for those who are interested in such things). Let me take you through a little analytical listening exercise:    First, let's lis

On Screentime & Reaping Benefits of Technology

There is a lot of marketing, research and branding out there, some telling us how to let our kids get ahead with technology, and others to stay away from it at all costs because it's rotting our brains! What's the real scoop in all this? How can we incorporate the advantages and benefits of technology into our daily lives while maintaining good brain health? And perhaps even more importantly as parents and teachers, how can we do this for today's kids? Well, last month, I joined in a teacher chat on the Piano Parent Podcast with fellow teacher Judy Wilkins, and the podcast host, Shelly Davis to talk about this exact topic. In the course of our discussion, I found myself really glad that we were talking together, and enjoyed the down-to-earth and actionable tips that Judy shared that were still flexible enough to fit a range of family & personality dynamics.  You can listen to the full episode in the player below, or go check out the shownotes on the podcast's

Studio Piano Parties

5 times during the year, this studio hosts a Piano Party open to all students who would like to attend.  What do we do at Piano Parties, you ask? Well, each one has a distinct musical focus on a topic that may not always get the spotlight in lessons: In July, we do a Music Theory Game Night . Often I'll frame this as a 'Bootcamp' with a specific topic like note reading or rhythm fluency.  In September we'll start off the school year with a look Inside the Piano . We'll learn more about what makes our instrument so special and all the moving parts that are there to help us make our music.  In November we'll have an  Improvising  party. Each year the style of music we improvise or compose may change, this year (2019-2020 Session) I'm planning a Pop Composing class using the 4 chord composing model. Students will write an original pop-style melody to play over a chord progression accompaniment.  In January we'll do a  Music History  theme and learn

Summer Reading List

What better time than Summer to discover some great books?! Today's post is a book list that shares some titles that tell the stories of musical artists or composers, some that have fun with music, and some that explore having positive self-esteem (very important for artists who are in the habit of being vulnerable by putting themselves into performing situations). As a former children's bookseller, and an avid reader, connecting with people about books is one of my most favorite hobbies.  If you're looking for a way for your summer reading to get your piano kid out of the house, just head to your local library! Here in McPherson, the library's summer reading program gives kids a free book just for signing up, as well as entry into the drawing for the big prize. If they complete a reading log, they can earn more prizes AND more entries into the drawing. If you haven't checked that out already, you can learn all about the Summer Kid's Programming here, there

Local Summer Concerts

We're going to go down memory lane with Ms. Dawn for a minute here: One of my favorite things about summer as a kid was walking up to the local park with a picnic on Wednesday nights to watch the concerts performed by the Temple City community orchestra. This was a fixed point in our week during the summer that we hardly ever missed. Sometimes we would even get McDonald's for our picnic (I'm positive that had absolutely nothing to do with me liking Wednesday nights so much). While we were there, I remember pretending to conduct the orchestra, making friends with the kids the next picnic blanket over & running around together, bringing friends for play dates, and when I got older bringing a book to read while I would lay there listening to the music in the summer evening air. Those Wednesday nights are surrounded with the hazy glow of summertime nostalgia for me, and I'm sure that they played a much larger role in growing my love of music than I realized at the tim