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Showing posts from 2020

Multi-Piano & Guitar Christmas Festival

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We did it! We pulled off the Multi-Piano Christmas Festival 2020 edition, and now we get to sit back and enjoy the show. Each of these students worked hard preparing their pieces, and each teacher sat down with us to brainstorm how we could safely host this event this year, and here is the result. Thank you to everyone for your hard work!  You can watch the video below OR join us over on the MAPTL Facebook page for a live premiere where we will all watch in real time on Saturday, December 19th at 4:00pm.  If you would like a program of the evening's performances, you can download that here .  And with that, we proudly present this year's Multi-Piano and Guitar Christmas Festival. 

Piano Parent Podcast: Wintertime TLC for your Acoustic Piano

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One of the secret upsides for me as a teacher about switching to more online lessons this year has been that I get to see and hear my student's home instruments. This helps me understand what may be causing certain technical and aural road blocks in a student's progress. Learn more about why having a well maintained home practice instrument can make a big impact on a student's progress here. .  So today's post is a seasonal reminder to give your piano a little TLC with this episode from the Piano Parent Podcast that aired last winter. Our instruments respond to the changes in temperature and humidity in their environment, the same way we do, and there are a few simple things we can do to improve their functionality and longevity. Hit play on the episode below, or check out the shownotes on the Piano Parent Podcast website  to learn more.  If your piano is due for its annual tuning, call your technician to schedule it today! In McPherson, that's  Chuck over at Sounds

Christmastime in the Piano Studio

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Can you believe it's already December? As we head into our final month of 2020 in the piano studio, I wanted to share a bit of what December looks like for us. What students will be working on, and how we add a little celebratory touch to our lessons for the holiday season. If you're a fellow piano teacher reading this, you can also read this as a little roundup of some of my favorite holiday resources.  Performance Prep & Holiday Rep We are gearing up for our Multi-Piano Christmas Festival, and will have our recording day in just a couple weeks! So this first week or two of December our focus will be on preparing for that festival, and polishing off any other Christmas repertoire or solo selections we've learned. We'll also make a list of our Seasonal Songs to Share so students have selections all chosen and ready to go for those family celebrations or quiet winter evenings over the break.  Lots of Games We'll get our music theory review in with some fun holi

Value of Duet & Ensemble Practice

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One of my favorite things to do in lessons is to play duets with students, or better yet, have them play in ensemble with each other. We even have an entire performance centered around ensemble and collaborative piano skills with our Multi-Piano & Guitar Christmas Festival every year. So why do we make a point to play along with other musicians in our piano study? In this post we'll look at the unique benefits and musicianship skills we learn in collaborative music making.  Builds Focus Something as simple as starting a song at the same time requires young students to focus in on their music and the directions they are being given. If we are working over a specific section and their instructions are to start from a certain measure, and they start at the wrong spot, that is a great teaching moment to be sure we are practicing both listening and understanding the instructions that are given. While playing a duet, each note also becomes more important, and passages that a student

Autumn Video Recital

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It's here! Our Fall Video Recital is up and available for viewing. You can watch it below, or join us over on the studio Facebook page for a 'Video Premier' at 11:00am on Saturday, November 7th where we will watch it together and students can see the applause and encouragement coming in the comments in real time during the performance.  If you would like a program of this show to follow along with or to have as a keepsake for your piano kid, you can download that here.  Thank you for joining us for this performance!

Piano Dust Buster - App Review

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We know that building sight reading confidence is a huge part of classical piano study, and we also know that gamifying a concept helps us engage in learning it so that we have more fun, stay motivated and ultimately retain what we've learned for longer. So today I am sharing another app that piano students can use to gamify their sight reading fluency practice: Piano Dust Buster ! This app was developed by Joytunes, which also brought us the studio favorite Piano Maestro , and in a lot of ways is similar to Piano Maestro in that it encourages the use of your real acoustic or electric piano, while scrolling music that students read and play in real time along with a backing track. It also has a fun animated theme in the form of a granny who is trying to dust the piano, she dusts the germs away from the notes that you play - and that's where the name Piano Dust Buster comes from.  Things I like about this app: It's intuitive, the graphics are engaging and funny, and it&#

Nate Holder book review

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At the beginning of September a new book came out called Why is My Piano Black and White? by Nate Holder. I listened to an interview with the author on the Piano Parent Podcast discussing his earlier book I Wish I Didn't Quit as well as his upcoming release  Why Is My Piano Black & White , and I really liked what he had to say so I pre-ordered a copy of the book. Today's blog post is part book review and part practical application with a few simple recommendations to how I think this book could be used at home to supplement a piano kid's musical journey, to grow their understanding of the instrument and to learn more about the long history of those who have played and composed on it.  The book doesn't read so much as a single story, but as a collection of short stories about various composers and artists starting with Classical music and working up through the 20th century. Once the book gets to the contemporary music, it splits out into genres instead of moving pu

Shaping the Sound - Piano Parent Podcast Episode

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A little while back Shelly over at the Piano Parent Podcast had an interview with a pretty big name in piano pedagogy, Marvin Blickenstaff, where he shared his 'Rules of Thumb' for shaping sound when playing the piano.  We all know on some level that music is so much more than a simple combination of notes. Expression, dynamics, articulation and even emotion all play a role in interpreting music so that it actually sounds musical. But even beyond those, there are ways to play that shape our sound into something truly beautiful, nuanced and textured. From the way we strike the keys to how we interpret phrasing, or even what to do with repeated notes to keep each one sounding fresh, there really is a lot going on under the surface when we hear well-played music. In this episode Marvin talks about some of those tricks. You can listen to the episode here, show notes available here  (including a free download of Marvin's Rules of Thumb!) For parents of piano students, I

My Favorite Musicians

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We all know that 2020 has been A YEAR so far, but I just wanted to send out a huge Thank You and some extra encouragement to all my piano families, because as I am sitting down to start writing up our Fall Progress Updates, I am just amazed at all the growth that I'm seeing when I compare to this time last year. Piano students really are my favorite musicians because they are always growing, learning and thoroughly impressing me with their music. These piano kids have really adapted through the changes this year.  They've continued to engage in their learning process, take a little extra ownership where needed while things were online, and have carried that back into the studio with them this Fall. We are already seeing huge strides in confidence, sight reading fluency, forward growth and music theory understanding.  They have also done such an amazing job adjusting to the studio guidelines and caring for each other by creating a safe studio community for us all to learn and

Rain is a Good Thing - Easy Piano Sheet Music

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During our summer session, one of my Elementary students asked to start learning this piece by Luke Bryan, so I set to work arranging it for her and ended up with this Elementary Piano Solo version of a country hit that is now available in my store on Sheet Music Plus .  While it is arranged for Elementary Piano, a familiarity with the song and cadence of the lyrics will help young students grasp some of the more challenging timings, or may even allow them to learn some passages by rote. Some of the quick repeated notes will offer technical practice, and overall the structure of the song offers an opportunity to familiarize students with the common parts of a popular song (Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Instrumental, etc). You can preview the sheet music, listen to a sample of the arrangement, and view purchasing options using the links below, or on the Sheet Music Plus website.  look inside Rain Is A Good Thing - Easy Piano By

Multi-Piano Christmas Festival - 2020 edition

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Can you believe we're already thinking about the Christmas Festival again?! For those of you just joining in, each year our local Piano Teachers' League hosts a Multi-Piano and Guitar Christmas Festival wherein area students prepare holiday duets, we line 8 pianos up on stage, and students & teachers perform these duets in a lively piano ensemble. This is a highly anticipated event each year, and we have been brainstorming how to carry on with this favorite performance in 2020.  Given the caution around COVID this year, naturally things are going to be a little different. But we piano teachers have brainstormed and come up with an idea that we are pretty excited about that will continue to give your students the opportunity to get ensemble piano experience, AND we will be able to avoid large gatherings and do our very best to keep everyone healthy. So, here's the current plan: Students will prepare their leveled duets in lessons as usual. On December 11th &a

Original Studio Art - Free Digital Print!

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One of my projects during our studio break in May of this year was to get the artwork on our studio walls sorted out to be a little more thematic, and 'put together'. One of the things that had been holding me up in this previously was that I didn't have any art to hang right behind the piano that would really help bring the room together. So, during our downtime, I decided to go ahead and create some studio art that could fill this space! You can see the image below with the 5 original prints hung in a collage form behind the studio piano. We will also be using these as our grand prizes for the studio practice challenges this year! Each student who completes their 40-hour Piano Maestro Challenge will choose a print of their choice to be personalized with their name & achievement, framed and presented at our Spring Recital! Now for the freebies! The Treble Clef print pictured here is free to you as a digital download if you would like it. All you

Early Childhood Music Education - Why It's Important

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Did you know that day old infants will breathe differently depending on if they are listening to Mozart vs. Stravinsky? This is because a s soon as we are capable of hearing music, we are already responding to and interacting with that music as a vehicle for emotional and cognitive development.  Traditional methods of teaching music have often started children around 7 or 8 years old with instrumental & technical learning, but a lot of research is now available to show that early childhood music education and integration is so incredibly valuable for essential development. In today's post, I'm sharing two different articles highlighting the benefits of early childhood music education. One is from the National Association for Music Education and the other is from Carnegie Hall.  This first article from NAfME outlines their position on Early Childhood Music Education, and that every child deserves play-based and developmentally appropriate music education. I'm dropp

Autumn 2020 Video Recital

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Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 7th at 11:00 am CST/9:00 AM PST because that's when we'll be hosting our Fall Video Recital!  As we've done the past couple years, our Fall Recital will be a recorded video recital that I will edit together into a single video file for online viewing. One thing that will be different this year is that the recital video will air as a Video Premiere on the studio Facebook page. I'm excited to give this a try because it will enable us to all sit down and watch the recital together with our videos synced up in real time, and to comment, cheer each other on and interact together while watching the performances. You'll also be able to invite friends and family to tune in with us making this something more akin to a live recital experience. For those of you who use Facebook, you can RSVP to the Fall Video Recital here to get updates on how to tune in for the watch party, and you are welcome to invite friends and family as w

Young Composers 2020

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It's that time again! We are unveiling our Young Composers Project for 2020.  This project is highly anticipated by both teacher & students each year because we get to enjoy a change of pace for the summertime, and turn our attention towards writing original music.  Engaging in writing music has several great benefits. It enhances our understanding of music theory, note reading and music fluency, while exercising some creativity.   How Young Composers works:  Each year in the summertime, all of our piano students explore creativity through writing music. The ways we approach this are adapted to all levels, from preschool up through advanced students. AND continuing students who have a working knowledge of note reading, as well as at least 6 months of playing experience, also have the opportunity to notate their original music using Noteflight notation software, and to record a track of their composition during our recording week in the studio. For online students who are u

Practice Challenge - 2020

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Practice Challenges help keep piano students motivated and progressing throughout the school year session. So in today's blog post, I'm outlining our practice challenges for the 2020-2021 School Year.  Year-Long Challenge First, our year-long challenge this year is going to be a Piano Maestro 40-Hour challenge . Any student who practices 40 hours or more in Piano Maestro over the course of the school year will receive a special prize (TBD) as well as some serious studio bragging rights. This adds up to a little over an hour a week, so making a 10-15 minutes of Piano Maestro a part of your every day practice might be the best way to reach this one.  The chart below is tracking our 40 hour challenge (which is 2400 total minutes!) Month-Long Challenges We will have 4 month-long challenges spread throughout the year. These are good motivators because they are short-term and make for easily measurable wins for students who track them. Here's what it will look like