Performances, repertoire / methods, Reviews

My Favorite Sheet Music Solos for Piano Students

For our annual Spring Recital, I maintain a tradition of letting my piano students choose their own special piece to memorize and perform. In December or January, I restock my library of sheet music solos at all the various levels, so that I can demonstrate 3-4 pieces for each student to choose from.

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I’ve started to try to keep track of some of the pieces that I feel were favorites or especially successful in performance over the past few years. I think every teacher should keep track of their favorite teaching pieces! I suggest doing so using a YouTube playlist or a spreadsheet file (Excel or Google Sheets). In fact, I have started a Collaborative Repertoire List project here that you may be interested in viewing.

Today, I’d like to share with you a selection of favorite sheet music solos my students have played over the past few years. In this video, you will hear me talk about and play excerpts from 18 pieces. Below the video, you’ll find written comments for each piece as well as links for purchasing the sheet music. Enjoy!

Favorite Sheet Music Solos for Piano Students

My Fav Sheet Music Solos for Piano Students

Posted by Color In My Piano blog on Monday, March 21, 2016

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EARLY ELEMENTARY

  • 1:20 Dancing Drums, by Joyce Grill —  A lively piece in a minor key that has a catchy and interesting melody. Teacher duet.
  • 2:00 Japanese Garden, by Jennifer Linn — An expressive, pentatonic piece for beginners. Teacher duet.
  • 3:20 In My Dreams, by Jennifer Linn — This piece has an absolutely gorgeous melody. 36 measures in length. Teacher duet.

MID ELEMENTARY Continue reading “My Favorite Sheet Music Solos for Piano Students”

Performances

2015 Spring Recital Photos

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

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

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

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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!

Performances

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!

Performances, Studio Business

Recital Invitation & Program Template

My students and I are currently preparing pieces for our Spring Recital.  I like to schedule my recital early (March or April), to avoid the busy end-of-the-year season.

This year, I decided to design some simple recital invitations for students to share with family and friends.  I printed these myself on cardstock paper.

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I also designed a matching recital program that I will use that day.

Feel free to download the Microsoft Word template for the invitations/program design and use them yourself this year.  All you have to do is edit the text and add your own studio name/logo.  You recommend printing onto nice, heavy paper in the color of your choice.

  Piano Recital Program & Invitation - Template #5 (169.0 KiB, 8,018 hits)

You’ll find this along with other recital program template designs on the Printables > Other Resources page.  Enjoy!

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?!

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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.

Performances, Printables

DIY Project: Recital Countdown!

Do you have any 4×6 photo frames lying around?  It’s time to put one to good use!

recital countdown background

This do-it-yourself project will help remind your students about upcoming studio events each time they come for their piano lesson.  :)

Materials:

  1. 4×6 photo frame
  2. Printed background (download the free JPG file on the Printables > Other Resources page — scroll down to “Recital Countdown”).  When you print, be sure that the image is printing at the actual 100% size.
  3. Dry erase marker

  Recital Countdown (1.3 MiB, 3,485 hits)

Directions: Design a background (or print the one I’ve created), insert it into a 4×6 photo frame, write the event & countdown number on the glass with a dry erase marker, and place your new Recital Countdown on/near your piano!

Enjoy!  :)

Announcements, Performances

My 2013 Spring Recital

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend!

Saturday was my students’ Spring Recital!  Like last year, I held it at my local library.  My students all did such a nice job — they make me so proud!

DSC_20130330_154803In photo above you’ll see each student with a rose, which is a tradition I’ve kept up for the last few years.  It’s nice to give something at the end of the recital, and giving a rose is a nice, affordable gesture to congratulate them for their performance and hard work.

Do you have a recital tradition?  :)

Announcements, Performances

Spring Recital Details

As I mentioned yesterday, our Spring Recital was Saturday!  Here’s how it went down:

  • It was held at the local library.  They have an atrium with a Steinway baby grand piano.  In the past, I’ve always held recitals at churches (and once at a school).  I look for churches with grand pianos that can be moved to the center of the sanctuary.  Being new in town, I haven’t yet discovered which churches have this kind of set-up (plus they have to be affordable).  Two of my students suggested using the library, so we did.  It costs $50 to rent and it’s a nice location with high ceilings and lots of natural light.  I was happy with it!
  • I always play something at my students’ recitals.  This year, I asked my friend, a violinist for whom I’m accompanying for her semester juries at my local university, to play her jury piece with me.  She was thrilled to be asked — but she needed to be first on the program so she could leave early for another event she had in the afternoon.  I wish I could let you hear the piece — but I forgot to start the video camera before we played the piece!  (I’m still kicking myself.)  Anyway, here’s Itzhak Perlman playing it.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKI9uoNfC18
  • After the violin piece, my students played.  I had 10 out of my 16 students play at the recital (the others are adult students, new 4-year-old students, or had a schedule conflict).  I knew it would be a short and sweet recital, but I still feel recitals are beneficial enough that it was worth doing anyway!
  • After playing, my students stood in the front for a group photo, and I gave them each a rose for their performance.  It’s a tradition I’ve been doing for a few years now, although my students in my new town, of course, have not experienced it yet.
  • Afterwards, we had a little reception with cupcakes, a Kit Kat piano (a la Pinterest), and cheese n’ crackers.

I don’t think I can share video of the recital since the pieces performed are under copyright, but I hope to share a photo slideshow soon!

Do you all have Spring Recitals coming up?  I like holding mine early in the Spring because May and June are such a busy months.