Friday, August 17, 2018

Polishing Pieces for Performance

How is piano practice like a car wash?
After moving beyond the 3 S's of practice (Slowly, Separate, Sections) and learning the basic elements of a song like rhythm and notes, it can be tempting to just move on and check the song off as complete.  And if you are just hoping for just good results then maybe that is enough.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Teaching Jazz Piano Basics


I was excited to find the perfect tool for expanding my students rhythm vocabulary, ear training and improvisation skills in a fun step by step way at every lesson. After attending a workshop by Eric Baumgartner last month, I couldn't resist purchasing his "Jazz Piano Basics" book with its engaging audio features, and I'm loving how I can use it with students of various levels for multiple purposes including improvisation, note reading, ear training, rhythm and group lesson performances and enjoy a little creative outlet myself.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Inspiring Creativity in Piano Lessons with 20 Variation Cards


When motivation for playing piano was waning for one of my students after a busy day, I pulled out these variation cards and it was definitely a game changer! Not only did he have a new excitement about learning his new piece, but I was able to assess his knowledge and teach some theory and technique skills in a lively engaging way that drew him in asking for more.  He wanted to complete the entire set of cards!
Instead of playing the "What Changed" game, that I blogged about on this previous post, I instead used the variation cards as a springboard of ideas for the Variation Practice Challenge.

My variation cards simply include a basic idea for varying the song with an image to represent the change.
Scrambled Eggs- Mix up the Melody
Ornament Ending- Add a trill turn or other embellishment to the end of the piece
Snail Cheetah-Change the tempo

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Music Mapping in Piano Lessons: A Tool to Aid Memorization and Sightreading

Last weekend I attended a workshop sponsored by my local music club. I was really intrigued by the concept of music mapping and how it can help students learn pieces more quickly and securely.

Friday, May 4, 2018

May Music Mash-up Piano Group Lesson

This month's theme in my studio includes a mashup of concepts including ear training, note reading, and rhythm, and at our group lesson, students had fun literally mashing up music concepts :)
 Major/Minor Pinata

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Music Theory Carnival Piano Games

For my most recent piano group lesson, we played carnival themed games with a music theory focus.  I brainstormed so many different ideas that it was hard to pick just a few to squeeze within an hour! 

Lucky Lolly Signs - Identifying Music Symbols
Lucky Lolly Music Carnival Game
Take turns naming music signs attached to the lollipop of your choice.  If you name it correctly and the sucker has a colored dot on the bottom you get to keep it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Piano Metaphor: Growing from Failure to Failure

"Mistakes are a fact of life. Learning to skillfully play the piano is essentially impossible without making thousands of mistakes or maybe even a million." 
"Success isn't the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without the absence of enthusiasm" -Winston Churchhill
"Consider failure as a tutor, not as a tragedy."
"Success is GROWING from failure to failure without the absence of enthusiasm" - Lynn G. Robbins

I loved these profound ideas from a recent inspiring message given by Lynn G. Robbins and his example of an inspiring college professor's approach to exams reflects my approach to piano theory exams.