Thursday, February 6, 2020

Simplified Piano "Come Follow Me" Songs for February

Playing Chords Lead Sheet Style

As I've watched my son progress each year in his Let's Play Music class, I've been surprised at how even 5 year old students can learn to play their primary chords with ease as an accompaniment to their own singing.  I encourage my students to learn chords much earlier than they are introduced in most method books and use this process to help them play songs they are familiar with "lead sheet style."  

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Teaching Piano Keyboard Skills Creatively

Teaching Piano Keyboard Skills Creatively, #Piano Teaching Scales
For this month keyboard skills is the focus in my music studio so I've rounded up a lot of games and activities relating to chords and scales to share in this post.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

4 Types of Scales Video and Free Printable

Teaching Piano Major and Minor Scales in a Memorable Way

Teaching Scales Sad Natural Minor Mad Harmonic Minor Bad Melodic Minor Glad Major
I've been telling the Story of the Scale Sisters for several years to introduce my students to the 4 types of scales (major, natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor), but I recently compiled this video to illustrate the concept and my students had a great time wearing wigs and mimicking moods as we watched it at group lessons.

I also prepared this printable for them to color as they watched each segment of the video to solidify their knowledge of the scale patterns and encouraged them to improvise melodies using the notes from each scale to form their own melodies. Sometimes it takes silly to make things stick!
 4 Types of Scales Free Printable

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Tonic Tutor Review and Discount Code

How can TonicTutor boost your music student's skills?

I've been using TonicTutor for several years as part of the curriculum my piano students complete during piano lab in addition to other apps and online activities. The game platform is comprehensive, customizable, developmentally appropriate, affordable and accessible and my students find it fun and motivating.

Tonic Tutor Discount: To receive 50% off your first month of Tonic Tutor enter this code when you subscribe at



With 40 different customizable games to choose from, Tonic Tutor provides music students with valuable practice in skills that are sometimes overlooked in private lessons because there are so many aspects necessary to develop total musicianship. The game categories include Keyboard, Aural (Intervals, Rhythm, Melody, Chords and Scales, Melodic Dictation)
Visual (Intervals, Pitch ID, Rhythm), Theory (Terms & Symbols, Key Signatures, Scales) and are described in my post with game instructions and hints.


You could opt to make a custom lesson for each student every week... but that would take a lot of time!  I opted to make a lesson plan template appropriate for different method book levels and place students into groups appropriate for their level. Weekly plans include a game from each category  (10 games per week) and I rotate the lesson plans to the next game in each set on the list the following week so they get to practice a variety of skills each week. There are also presets to choose from that correlate with RCM, and some of the most popular method books (Faber, Alfred, Hal Leonard, etc.). 

Developmentally Appropriate

The duration of each game is short with immediate feedback so children don't get bored mindlessly drilling the same concept for too long.
Although the teacher prescribes a set of games for students to complete in their lesson, students can choose the order, and once complete they enter freeplay mode where they can choose any game and level to earn bonus achievements and compete for contest awards with other students if desired. 

Tonic Tutor is accessible on a p.c. ipad or iphone so even if students miss lessons due to illness or are on vacation away from a piano they can still get valuable practice "on the road".  Some of my older devices do take longer for the games to load on.


The option of setting up "contests" has been one of the biggest motivators in my studio.  I typically set up a contest that awards the student with the highest lesson score (AIM High) and most achievements (OverAchiever) so students have a chance to be awarded for both skill and effort.  This year I'm opting to focus contests on a different category each month.  Although students complete games from all the categories in their lessons, you can handpick which ones are eligible for the contest and even set up contest for varying groups so your new beginners are pitted against advanced students.

Tonic Tutor Discount: To receive 50% off your first month of Tonic Tutor enter this code when you subscribe.