Memorization, Resources

Practice Tips @ “The Practice Notebook” blog

I was recently introduced to “The Practice Notebook” blog, created by flautist Zara Lawler.  She has tons of excellent tips for practicing efficiently, no matter what instrument you play.  Most notably, I found some excellent blog posts about her method of memorizing music.  In my experience, many teachers have their students memorize their pieces, but very few teachers actually teach how to memorize.  I am thrilled to find this blog that lays out a specific step-by-step method.  I am taking her suggestions to heart as I prepare my piano pieces for my midterm next week!

I hope write my own post with my own tips for memorizing music as well, but specific to piano music.  Watch for it coming soon!

Announcements, Technology

New Facebook integration

Exciting news: you can now follow the Color In My Piano blog via Facebook!  Click the new button on the left, Find Us On Facebook, to view our page on Facebook.  Become a fan and receive blog updates right in your Facebook news feed!

In addition, now when you leave comments on posts at, you can leave them using your facebook account. will even display your current facebook avatar (photo) beside your comment.  What fun!

repertoire / methods, Resources

Links page has been updated

The Links page here at has been updated!  I’ve created a new category devoted to sites with free sheet music, preferably for piano.

My personal favorite:

IMSLP / The Petruccit Library

This site contains TONS of sheet music pdfs of the great classical works!  Just this week, for example, I was looking to round out one of my student’s “musical diet” by giving her a piece from the Romantic Era.  After browsing around on the IMSLP site, I came across the Burgmüller Etudes Op. 100, which includes some lovely little pieces which were among my favorite pieces to play when I was a kid.  Examples: “Arabesque,” “Grace,” “Progress,” “Innocence,” and “Ballade.”

Do you have a favorite site where you print free sheet music?  Please let us know and I’ll add it to the list!

Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Board Game “Adventures in Music”

Just added to the Printables page: a free piano-bench-sized board game for music students, called “Adventures in Music”!


I am so thrilled to be offering this game on my website.  This is my first attempt at creating a music game for students, and I’m quite excited about the results.

Continue reading “Just Added: Board Game “Adventures in Music””

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

— Frederic Chopin

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]

improving as a teacher, Memorization, Motivation

3 Benefits of Incorporating Improvisation | Part 6 of the series

We’ve arrived at the end of the series on incorporating improvisation!  We’ve already discussed the obstacles, history, and value of improvisation.  And in the last few posts, we discussed at length a practical, 4-part method for incorporating improvisation into the piano lesson.  Today’s consideration is the last of the series: what are the major benefits of incorporating improvisation into the piano lesson?  Here are the big three:

  1. Students are more likely to remember and understand concepts when learned creatively through improvisation.  This is largely related to the strengthening of the connections between theory and practice.
  2. Students are more likely to be motivated to take lessons when they are doing creative tasks.  There is so much more to music than learning to follow directions on the page!
  3. Students are more likely to memorize securely, and more likely to easily recover from memory slips.  Students who understand what is going on in the music (i.e., can identify the key, the form of the piece, and even some of the harmonic progressions) they are more likely to have their pieces memorized securely.  And in the event of a memory slip, students accustomed to improvising can simply improvise until they get back on track!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on improvisation!

What benefits have you found in conducting improvisational activities with your students?

Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series:

Series: Incorporating Improvisation into the Piano Lesson

  1. Creativity in the Piano Lesson – Introductory musings.
  2. Top 3 Obstacles when Teaching Improvisation
  3. A Brief History of Improvisation
  4. The Value of Improvisation
  5. Incorporating Improvisation:
    1. part a
    2. part b
    3. part c
    4. part d
  6. 3 Benefits of Incorporating Improvisation (now viewing)
Announcements, improving as a teacher

Things I Learned from a Yeol Eum Son Masterclass

Last week, my university held a master class by Yeol Eum Son, the silver winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition.  I played a Chopin Etude, op.10 no.6.  She gave me a number of specific suggestions which were very helpful, but there were two general concepts I took from the experience:

1. Posture: keep your chest open. I’ve been told to sit up straight of course, and I’ve even been told not to sit too straight (a common problem among slender pianists, especially female).  I’ve also been told to keep my shoulders down and relaxed, which is something I struggle with.  Tension in the shoulders, can affect the arms and wrists negatively.

I’ve also accompanied enough vocalists to know that keeping the chest open is extremely important to help with breath support and avoid causing the throat to do the work.  But I never realized that pianists should be doing this too.  Watching her play, I realized how free and open her chest seemed, and as a result, how relaxed her shoulders and arms were.  I can’t quite explain it in words — see it for yourself it the video here:

(Her playing is so beautiful in this video, I could listen to it over and over and never tire of it!) Continue reading “Things I Learned from a Yeol Eum Son Masterclass”