MTNA 2015 (1): Las Vegas

mtna 2015 conference logoOn Saturday, I returned from a trip to Las Vegas for the 2015 MTNA conference. It was wonderful: as usual, I learned so much and enjoyed connecting and reconnecting with fellow music teachers. There is nothing like attending a national-level conference to help refresh one’s inspiration and drive for teaching!

In past years, I’ve shared a great deal of my conference notes here on my blog. This year, I took fewer notes with the goal of being able to enjoy the conference more “in the moment.” But I do intend to share short summaries from a selection of the sessions I attended. As this year’s MTNA conference tagline states, “Don’t let what happened in Vegas stay in Vegas!”

Stay tuned!

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MTNA 2015 in Las Vegas

The 2015 MTNA national conference begins tomorrow! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to attend. My flight leaves later today and I’ll be staying with a piano teacher friend in Las Vegas.

mtna 2015 conference logo

I will be giving a presentation tomorrow, during the Young Professionals track of Pedagogy Saturday, at 2:15pm. My presentation is called: Harnessing The Power Of The Internet: Blogging And Social Media For The Musician.

If you have registered for Pedagogy Saturday, you should know that you are allowed to jump between the various tracks and attend whichever sessions you wish. There are many different sessions occurring at the same time, so I know it is challenging to decide what to attend!

If you are attending MTNA this year, I’d love to connect with you! Please feel free to send me an email via the contact form on my blog. Or please feel free to introduce yourself if you happen to bump into me. :)

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2015 Spring Recital Photos

My studio’s annual Spring Recital was on Sunday. So proud of how my students played!

20150315_143733 SONY Spring Recital web

We held it at a local church that has a nice Yamaha. Even my youngest students participated, even if only with a simple duet.

20150315_141501 SONY_01 Spring Recital web

My husband was kind enough to take a photo of each student, which I emailed to parents afterwards.

20150315_141620 SONY Spring Recital web

As is our tradition, I gave each student a rose for their performance at the end of the recital.

20150315_145825 SONY Spring Recital group photo web

I’m sure many of you are preparing students for your own spring recitals. I wish you all the best in your preparations!

Just a reminder: The last day to receive 20% off anything in my digital shop ends tomorrow, Friday, March 20, 2015! You must enter the promo code in the shopping cart to receive the discount: 20OFF2015. If you want to plan summer camps this year using my curriculum or get your hands on the Ice Cream Intervals game, be sure to take advantage of this sale because it only happens once each year!

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Sending Students to Outside Events

On Saturday, seven of my students played their recital pieces for a local Ribbon Festival held by my local MTNA/OhioMTA chapter. So proud of them!

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I’ve been sending students to this festival since I moved to Ohio three years ago. This is a non-competitive event — meaning, there are no winners. Students perform one piece by memory and are given a ribbon, a certificate, and a comment sheet from an adjudicator. The comments are always written in a positive, encouraging way, even if there are many suggestions for improvement. At this particular festival, students are awarded a certain color ribbon according to how many years they have participated in the festival. This certainly motivates students to come back each year!

I find it so valuable for students to participate in community events outside of my studio. It is good for students to have a goal to prepare for and become accustomed to performing in various settings. And it is always beneficial for students to hear other students play and get exposed to more music. When we prepare for outside events, we talk about hearing the performance through the ears of the audience/judges.

I always look forward to reading what the adjudicators write on the comment sheets. Usually, the comments either (1) confirm my thoughts about the piece or the student’s playing, or (2) give me ideas that I hadn’t considered before (which is great!). When the judges’ comments reinforce what I am trying to develop in my student, this is helpful to both of us!

Other benefits: It is good for students to learn to be open to feedback coming from sources other than the teacher. And when students receive positive feedback from an outside source, they are assured that the teacher is providing good instruction.

To sum it up: Sending my students to outside events has helped me become a better teacher.

There are many different types of community events and as I mentioned earlier, they are not necessarily competitive. If you do not currently send your students to outside events, I would encourage you to research what might be happening right in your own town!  I recommend checking if there is a local MTNA chapter in your area.  Other options in the U.S. include: National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), Piano Guild, and the Royal Conservatory of Music testing. Each of these programs offer unique benefits, so there is bound to be something that is right for you and your students!

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

einstein albert quote

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

– Albert Einstein

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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March 2015 Piano Party

My studio recital is coming up, so my students and I have been busy with recital prep. This means we spend a lot of time during the lesson practicing the elements of good stage presence (practicing the bow, etc) and practicing run-throughs by memory. At almost lesson I’ve been teaching this week and last, I’ve been taking video with my iPhone so that we can watch, listen, and discuss afterwards. Having the video running helps the student get a little bit nervous and mentally rehearse what it is like to be at the actual performance.

At the March “Piano Party” (my monthly studio classes) I held on Saturday, we ran a recital rehearsal of sorts.

IMG_2555 Read More »

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Celebrating 6 Years of Blogging!

carlitos_BalloonsFebruary 28 marked the six-year anniversary of Color In My Piano!  As previously announced, we are celebrating with a 20% off sale in my digital shop using the promo code 20OFF2015. The sale expires on Friday, March 20, 2015.

I know some of you have been following my blog since its inception, but many of you are new.  It seems appropriate to share a brief history of my blog as part of our blogiversary celebration.

The First Year:

  • It was on February 28, 2009 that I first conceived of this blog and wrote my first post: a welcome and brief statement of purpose.  I found my inspiration largely from Natalie Wickham’s Music Matters Blog and Susan Paradis’ Piano Teacher Resources.  At this point in my life, I was running a successful piano studio of about 20 students out of my parent’s home, and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Hope College.  I graduated in May of 2009.
  • On July 9, 2009, I decided that I was enjoying blogging enough to go full swing: I came up with the title “Color In My Piano,” bought my own domain name and a year’s worth of web hosting, and gave the site a whole new look.
  • Have you ever wondered about the story behind the name “Color In My Piano?”  The phrase was coined when, during my senior year at Hope College, I was required to write an essay which reflected upon my life so far and summed up my current worldview.  Not surprisingly, much of paper focused on my beliefs about music and the role of the piano/teaching in my life.  In my life, I strive to keep my music-making and teaching from feeling like merely a job or a requirement.  I strive to keep “color in my piano” for both my students and myself.
  • Over the summer, my husband and I moved so we could attend graduate school the next year. In August of 2009, I started my Master’s degree in Piano Pedagogy at Central Michigan University.
  • As of February 28, 2010 (the 1 year anniversary), Color In My Piano had a total of 18,371 views and about 50 email subscribers. The record number of page views in one day was 425 on February 11, 2010.

Read More »

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Video: Elena Cobb’s Higgledy Piggledy Jazz

Isn’t it great when you find just the right music, for just the right student, at just the right time?

Back when I first reviewed Elena Cobb’s music in 2012, I had mostly beginner students in my studio having recently relocated to Ohio. Recently, I was pleased to have the opportunity to give Elena’s book of jazz-inspired early intermediate pieces, called Higgledy Piggledy Jazz, to my student, Emma.  Emma has really gone to town with this book — she loves the pieces and loves playing along with the backing tracks on the accompanying CD.

I asked Emma if she would like to take a video to share with the composer and she was thrilled with the idea.  I hope you enjoy Emma’s little wink at the beginning of the video…it pretty well shows her personality!

Check out the rest of the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book at Elena’s website.

[Note: Emma and I are still working on being able to play those fast triplets loosely and easily. It’s a work in progress!]

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Tracking Progress of Piano Students

tracking student progress in piano studyI received an email from a reader over the weekend, asking: “I would love to know your general process/techniques for keeping record of work done with a student.”

Although piano methods already provide structure for study and the student’s assignment notebook does serve as a log of the student’s progress, I personally find it very helpful to keep my own records and notes about each student.  As a colleague of mine recently said, the idea is to have a plan or record of the past, the present, and the future.

Here are some of the things I like to keep notes about:

  • The student’s current level.
  • When the student began lessons.
  • Curriculum. Meaning, the books we are using, when books/pieces are completed, a repertoire list, etc..
  • Pieces/books I think would be appropriate for the student in the future.
  • Events the student has participated in (recitals, festivals, exams, etc.).
  • And any other accomplishments or miscellaneous notes.

evernoteI currently use Evernote to store my notes, but any program or platform would work. (Evernote is an online-based note-taking service that offers syncing across their apps for smartphone, tablet, and computer.) In Evernote, I have a notebook for “Active Students” and “Inactive Students.” Each notebook contains a series of notes titled by student name.

I do not necessarily pull up these notes during the lesson time, unless I need them for some reason. I find myself referring to my notes before I begin teaching for the day or when I’m brainstorming about a student’s needs.

Below is an example of what my teacher notes look like for a hypothetical elementary-level student and intermediate-level student, covering September 2012 through August 2014. [Note: The repertoire list for the intermediate student be much longer in reality, but I’ve kept it short for this example.]


JANE DOE

Current Level: Mid Elementary
Joined Studio: September 2012
Began Lessons: September 2012
Notes: Began as a 6-year-old. Very enthusiastic beginner with an excellent natural sense of rhythm. Read More »

Posted in piano pedagogy, piano teacher institute, repertoire / methods | Tagged , , | 6 Responses

2015 Annual Blogiversary Sale

Sale

The annual Blogiversary Sale is going on now!  Take 20% off all items in my digital shop.

Promo Code: 20OFF2015

You must enter the promo code in the shopping cart to receive the discount. Sale expires on Friday, March 20, 2015.

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Upcoming Blogiversary and Other Shop News

Hello, folks!

The good news first: On February 28 is the ColorInMyPiano blog’s birthday!  I’ve been blogging for 6 years now. I wanted to let you know that in celebration, I will once again holding the annual 20% off sale on everything in my digital shop. This will begin on Monday, February 23 and last through Friday, March 20, 2015. Now is the time to plan ahead for group classes or summer camps and purchase any curriculum you might need!

I wanted to also let you know that my shop is now compliant with the new European VAT law that went into effect on January 1, 2015, affecting digital goods sales. Especially if you haven’t heard about this law and the issues surrounding it yet, I highly recommend giving this article a quick read. Selling digital items online is becoming more complicated as governments try to decide how such products should be taxed!  :\

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

chinese proverb quote

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”

– Chinese Proverb

Feel free to download and share this quote or image.

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