Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

duncan quote

“I do not teach children. I give them joy.”

– Isadora Duncan

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iPad App Review: Piano Maestro

App Review: piano_maestro_iconPiano Maestro for *iPad only.*  FREE for teacher accounts and for students who are connected to a teacher account.

I’ve been meaning to write this review for a long time.  I wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already heard all about the Piano Maestro app for iPad!

If you are not already familiar with Piano Maestro, here’s how I would sum it up: Piano Maestro is an app for iPad that provides music for the student to play, listens to the student’s acoustic piano using the iPad’s microphone (no wires required, although if you prefer to hook it up to a keyboard with headphones, you can), and evaluates the student’s playing based on note accuracy and rhythm accuracy.  The student’s progress is saved over time and points are awarded, essentially “gamifying” the experience.  The developer, JoyTunes, is a team dedicated to piano education and listening to feedback from teachers.

Watch this 30-second video to see Piano Maestro in action:

When student accounts are connected to the teacher’s account, students have the flexibility of using their account via the teacher’s iPad during their weekly lessons or they can use their own iPad at home.

Piano Maestro has the potential to be a game-changer in your studio, depending on how you decide to incorporate it into your teaching.  Let’s first talk about the kinds of pieces available for students to learn in Piano Maestro.  Read More »

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“Un-Method” Books for Piano Students

Un-Methods for Piano StudentsAs a piano teacher, you have probably been in the situation where you felt that using your favorite traditional piano method might not be the best choice for a particular new student’s situation.

For example, perhaps you have a new student who already has experience reading music from school or band.  Or an older beginner with a great ear who is largely self-taught.  Or an adult student who is returning to piano lessons after a number of years.  Or perhaps you have an average-age beginner who isn’t thriving in their method books and would benefit from additional supplement.

For those special situations, it is useful to be familiar with some method book alternatives, which I fondly refer to as “un-methods.”  Un-methods are useful for creating structure in weekly piano assignments while maintaining the flexibility to round out the student’s curriculum with other styles of music they are interested in.  In my mind, an un-method must meet at least two out of these three criteria:

  • Uses on-staff note reading.
  • Little to no illustrations or text on the page.
  • All-in-one book, for the most part.

Below is my list of some un-methods that you might enjoy exploring!


Right From The Start, by Lynn Freeman Olson (Fischer)

3786474_01downloadAs the cover states, this thin volume is a “rapid piano reader.”  Teachers who appreciate a landmark (aka interval) reading approach will appreciate the way this on-staff book begins: by teaching Bass F, Middle C, and Treble G.  The book provides a solid, no-nonsense approach.  I think it is a great book that truly leaves the teaching up to the teacher!

By the end of this 30-page book, students are playing basic rhythms (no eighth notes, unfortunately) within quarter note meters (3/4 and 4/4 time), a variety of articulations (staccato, legato) and notes covering the entire grand staff.

View it on Amazon or SheetMusicPlus.com. Read More »

Posted in beginners / elementary Level, piano pedagogy, repertoire / methods | Tagged , , | 7 Responses

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

gowen quote

“Teaching is the achievement of shared meaning.”

– D.B. Gowen

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Giveaway Winners

2014

Just a quick blog post today, announcing the winners of last month’s giveaway for hardcopies of the student piano solo composition I wrote.

Congrats to Carmen, Kristie, and Martyn!  I’ll be in touch by email to request your address.

A free digital PDF download of the Holiday Parade piece is available here.

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

robinson quote

“My contention is that creativity is as important as literacy in education, and we should treat it with the same status.”

– Sir Ken Robinson

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A Few Updates

Don’t forget — today is the last day to enter the giveaway for hardcopies of my Holiday Parade elementary level solo with teacher duet!  Click here.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been gradually adding more recommendations to my list of piano duets for sight-reading.  Check out this popular post from last year here.

Another old post I’ve been updating is from 2010: Over 20 Musical Spins on Favorite Games.  There are links to Diatonic Dominoes, a new version of Musical Sorry, and more.

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

dana quote

“Those who dare to teach never cease to learn.”

– John Cotton Dana

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Digital Worksheet: Matching Staff to Keyboard

Remember this set of worksheets (Matching Staff to Keyboard worksheets) I posted a couple of weeks ago?

20141205_134356 NIKON

At the suggestion of a reader (thanks, Elaine!), I have created a new digital version.

Staff to Keyboard Matching - digital worksheet

Using an annotating app such as GoodNotes (my review here), you can upload the PDF to your iPad and have students complete the worksheets digitally.  It’s a great way to coach students through a concept while saving paper.

Goodnotes digital worksheets

The PDF contains 20 pages, each with 3 notes that must be matched to the keyboard.

Download link here: 

  Matching Staff to Keyboard -- Digital Worksheets (307.2 KiB, 486 hits)

You can find the other digital worksheets I have created for tablet here.

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Digital Version: Spreadsheet for Payments Received

Numbers-icon

For the past couple of years, I’ve been using a form I created using Microsoft Word to track payments received from piano students each month.  I printed a new sheet each month (that way I could update the student roster list each month as it inevitably evolves), inserted it into my three-ring binder, and then penned in the details about each payment.  Here is what that form looks like:

Record of Payments Received

numbers(Click here for details about downloading that form.)

For the past few months, I’ve been testing out a new digital version of this form using Apple’s Numbers app on my MacBook.  The advantage of this system is that if I save the document in iCloud, I can edit the spreadsheet from my iPad in the Numbers app.  Thanks to iCloud, everything stays synced.  I am loving this system so far!

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.57.26 PM

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

glasser quote

“Where there is no learning, there is no teaching.”

– William Glasser

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Piano Student Gift Ideas for Christmas/Recitals

Need inspiration for music-themed gifts for music students?  Below are photos submitted by piano teachers just like you!

From Liz Hurst from Tooele, Utah:

Here is my little ornament I did this year.  It is made with little wooden stars, vintage sheet music and modge podge.  Glitter glue if you want the initial and hot glued ribbon to make the loop.

christmas ornament

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