NCKP 2013 (8) – Panel Discussion with Pedagogy Leaders from Around the World

Th 2013 July 25 @ 10am – Panel Discussion: A Conversion with Pedagogy Leaders from Around the World, moderated by Andrew Hisey.

Panel members included Elissa Milne, Gulimina Mahamuti, Ratko Delorko, Irina Voro, Seung-Ji Ryu, Janet Lopinski, Claudia Deltragia, and one other speaker from Argentina (who was not listed in the program).

What is the status of pedagogy around the world?

Australia is an exam culture – students and parents expect to take exams. When the exam board makes a change, teachers pay attention. The board recently made some changes to promote contemporary music, so teachers are using a lot of contemporary music. Australia is moving to a repertoire rich teaching approach rather than teaching only competition pieces all year. Australia is a country of innovators and they don’t respect authority very much.
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NCKP 2013 (7) – Keynote Address: Franz Liszt as the Culteral Ambassador of the 19th Century, by Alan Walker

Thursday, 2013 July 25 – Keynote Address: Franz Liszt as the Culteral Ambassador of the 19th Century, by Alan Walker

Franz Liszt was a pianist, composer, organizer of events, and also cultural ambassador for his country. As a pianist, he created the recital. As a conductor, he create a series of gestures and body movements still used today. As a teacher, he created the master class. As a composer, he created new forms. And he truly was an ambassador of his time.

Being an ambassador is not easy. An ambassador is someone who thinks twice before saying nothing!

If he had not been a musician, Liszt could have been the first diplomat of Europe. Continue reading “NCKP 2013 (7) – Keynote Address: Franz Liszt as the Culteral Ambassador of the 19th Century, by Alan Walker”


NCKP 2013 (6) – Holistic Learning by Immanuela Gruenberg

Wednesday – Holistic Learning: Integrating the Mind, Body, and Spirit of the Music you are Teaching or Learning, by Immanuela Gruenberg

We all are efficient in practice when there is a deadline looming. How can we be that efficient all the time?

Holistic learning means treating the mind, body, and spirit as interdependent even from the beginning.

Most Common Mistakes:

#1. Students learn from the bottom up – from the details first instead of the big picture. That means you don’t know where you are going. You must need to know the clear goal in order to make a specific plan. Continue reading “NCKP 2013 (6) – Holistic Learning by Immanuela Gruenberg”


NCKP 2013 (5) – The Technique Behind Intermediate Repertoire, by Nancy Bachus

Wednesday – The Technique Behind Intermediate Repertoire: Laying the Groundwork, Nancy Bachus

Nancy Bachus covered a variety of technique concepts and how to teach them in her session.

Physical Aspects of Technique:
Position of the body – shoulders down and relaxed; Forearms level with the keyboard, Feet flat and planted.

Hands and fingers – natural curve, strong nail joint (Schnabel quote). Lay arm flat, bring the fingers back. Hang fingers on edge of wood before keyboard.

Hand needs an arch. It connects the fingers with the thumb.
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NCKP 2013 (4) – Developing a Curriculum for the Intermediate Transfer Student, by Jane Magrath

Wednesday – Developing a Curriculum for the Intermediate Transfer Student by Jane Magrath

There is so much to choose from – How do we choose curriculum?

“Curriculum” comes from the Latin for “a course for racing.”

Teach what you know. If you don’t do jazz, let the student get a jazz teacher!
We can’t do everything at once. Start with what you teach well.
The idea of leveling is so important. The levels are just a frame of reference – not a definite order.

Finding a student level:
Step 1: Ask the student to sight read only one or two lines of three pieces from a leveled literature series. Help the student find the tempo and counting at the beginning. Test the student by switching books to other levels and evaluate. Find the student’s sight reading level.
Step 2: Assign literature for study that is about 2 levels higher than their reading level.
Continue reading “NCKP 2013 (4) – Developing a Curriculum for the Intermediate Transfer Student, by Jane Magrath”


NCKP 2013 (3) – Conducting the Transfer Student Interview

Wednesday – Conducting the Transfer Student Interview
Panel discussion with Linda Fields, Immanuela Gruenberg, David Husser, Gail Lew, Elissa Milne, and Arlene Steffen

Could the interview be this simple as two questions: Whise idea was this, and will you practice every day?

Types of transfer students: Those who are moving geographically; becoming dissatisfied with the current teaching; the teacher retires or passes away; or student takes a break for a number of months/years and wishes to begin again.

An interview involves meeting the student and the parent, and for them to try things out with the teacher as well. The “interview” is an awfully formal term – an “exploration” is perhaps a better word. Observe the interaction between student and parent.

How do you use the time during the interview? Before the interview, try to collect the information you can. Try to talk to the student and parent. Have the student play and sight read. Evaluate in potential of younger students – such as their ears or senses of rhythm. With older students, you evaluate knowledge, motivation, and playing. Observe student’s body in interaction with the instrument. Teachers should also observe visual processing, aural processing, etc. Test reading skills and aural abilities.
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NCKP 2013 (2) – The Beauty And The Beast In The Piano Studio, by Marvin Blickenstaff

W July 24 @ 3pm – The Beauty And The Beast In The Piano Studio, by Marvin Blickenstaff

Mr. Blickenstaff began by playing the beautiful Schumann Romance. Then he stated that beautiful music has the power to change human beings.

Marvin was almost a piano dropout in the 7th grade. He was bored and his mother decided to have him take from Fern Davidson – great teacher in Idaho. At her 100th birthday, over 900 people showed up at her birthday concert! Fern gave all of them the gift of beautiful music. Notice the phrase is not fast fingers, theoretical analysis, etc.. Beautiful music makes beautiful souls. Piano study is about increasing a sensitivity to the beautiful. Our lives are momentarily changed by beautiful sounds. The human being needs beauty.

We are here in the name of teaching beauty. It is the longest lasting gift we can give our students. It should be our focus. Continue reading “NCKP 2013 (2) – The Beauty And The Beast In The Piano Studio, by Marvin Blickenstaff”


NCKP 2013 (1) – Keynote Address: Service by Dr. Scott Price

I am excited to be here at the 2013 NCKP! I am going to try to live blog some of my notes through-out the week, Natalie Wickham style. ;). Check back soon for updates.

W July 24 @ 2pm – Keynote Address: Service by Dr. Scott Price

Dr. Price began by showing video of one of his special needs students, Margaret, singing and playing the folk song “Oh Susannah.” It was a heartwarming video!

Dr. Price then asked: Is Margaret going to win competitions, scholarships, piano camps? No. But she can play folk songs and sing with family and friends. This video shows what we do every day as teachers: we serve.
Continue reading “NCKP 2013 (1) – Keynote Address: Service by Dr. Scott Price”

General, Music Camps, Music History

2013 Music History Camp

As I mentioned in a post last week, I held a Music History Camp last week with five of my private students.  Each day, we studied an era of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern) and also focused on a composer from that period.

To study the eras, I decided to write a printable booklet for each era.  Below is a sneak peek at how they turned out.  I think they could be very useful both for music camps as well as for private students.   These booklets are going to make their way to the Shop very soon, accompanied by a set of corresponding worksheets and a timeline showing other events occurring in history during these eras. Photo - collage

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Music History

SightRead Plusgiveaway winner & New Lapbooks

Just a quick post today, to announce the randomly chosen winner of the giveaway for the Sight Read Plus app for iPad….

Congrats goes to Lori!  Lori, I will be sending you an email with your promo code very soon.

By the way, two new lapbooks have been added to the ColorInMyPiano shop — Handel & Mussorgsky!

Studying Handel provides the opportunity to discuss popular Baroque forms such as the concerto grosso and the oratorio, and to learn the stories behind a couple of his famous works: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.  I used this lapbook at my Music History Camp this week.  Listening to those two pieces and learning the stories behind them was a hit with my students!

Handel both

Studying Mussorgsky provided the opportunity to learn about the group of Russian composers known as “The Mighty Five” and their Nationalist tendencies.  We also studied Mussorgsky’s well known work Pictures at an Exhibition, composed in honor of Mussorgsky’s artist/architect friend who died rather suddenly.  Included in the Mussorgsky lapbook is an optional worksheet activity to use while listening to Pictures at an Exhibition.

Mussorgsky both

In case you are curious, the next composer added will be Prokofiev.  After that, who knows…maybe Clementi or Tchaikovsky?  :)

Performances, Teaching Piano

Audience In A Bottle

A couple of weekends ago, I attended a fantastic Piano Pedagogy Seminar at Ohio University.  The featured clinician was Dr. Peter Mack — an Irishman from Seattle who is a fantastic teacher with a wonderful sense of humor.

During one of the sessions, Dr. Mack told us that in his studio there are lots of teddy bears and dolls, as well as masks on the walls.  He told us that it was so that his students would always feel that they had an audience to play for.  Can you imagine having all those eyes watching you during a piano lesson?  haha!

While I’m not particularly interested in using masks or teddy bears to decorate my studio, I am interested in getting my students to listen to themselves more and play as if an audience is listening.  :)   Thus, I created this silly little prop.  What do you think?!


I call it my “Jar of Eyes” or my “Audience in a Bottle.”  :)  I haven’t used it on any unsuspecting students yet, but I anticipate it will be highly effective to bring out the next time I think a student could use a reminder to play as if an audience is listening/watching.  ;)

I bought the little glass jar (it is only about 2.5 inches in diameter) at Hobby Lobby some time back for about $2.  I already had all those different craft eyes in my bin of craft supplies.  If you’d like to create your own jar of eyes, I’m sure you can find various sizes of googly eyes at any craft store.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“My chief virtue (or if you like, defect) has been a tireless lifelong search for an original, individual musical idiom. I abhor imitation and I abhor the familiar.”

— Sergei Prokofiev

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 me a message here.