Conferences

NCKP 2017 (4): Saturday

[Click here to go back to Day 3.]

8am Kjos Publisher Showcase: Bastien New Traditions: Inspiring the Next Generation of Beginning Pianists, by Lori and Jane Bastien.

You probably know the Bastien name from the variety of method series (remember the iconic cover of the Bastien Piano Basics method?) and supplemental materials that were popular across past few decades. You may not know, however, that the Bastiens are back with the brand new method released last year (2016) called the Bastien New Traditions All In One Piano Course.

The Primer A book is off-staff reading, while the Primer B book is on-staff reading. If desired, the teacher can directly start the older beginner in the Primer B book. In this showcase, Lori demonstrated a number of the pieces from the method books, so that in hearing the pieces and the teacher duets we could gain a sense of the quality of the music.

Here's a photo taken of me with Jane Bastien and her daughter Lori!


Continue reading “NCKP 2017 (4): Saturday”

Conferences

NCKP 2017 (3): Friday

[Click here to go back to Day 2.]

First thing this morning, I joined Tim Topham live on Facebook to rundown of the previous day's events.
Check out our fun video here!

9:00am Effective Communication of Practice Expectations: Send them Home with the Tools for Success, by Scott Donald

Scott completed a survey recently exploring how teachers communicate at-home assignments to their students. After all, how well we communicate expectations and practice strategies determines the likelihood that the student will follow through.

In another project, Scott compared three modalities for communicating the same practice expectations: written, aural, and video. Those teachers who participated were to evaluate the number of errors in the performance. As it turned out, there was no statistically significant difference between the modalities. So, Donald decided he needed instead to take a look at what exactly what was being communicated. The top tips he shared: Be specific in your assignments. And practice together during the lesson.

Continue reading “NCKP 2017 (3): Friday”

Conferences

NCKP 2017 (2): Thursday

[Click here to go back to Day 1.]

8:00am Hal Leonard Showcase: Recent Classical Piano Publications from Hal Leonard

During this showcase sessions by Hal Leonard publishers, we were informed about a variety of new publications available. Of special interest are the new "At The Piano" books from Henle Verlag. These books contain original pieces by one composer, arranged and labeled by level of difficulty. The book contains information about the technique and interpretation of the piece. According to Henle, the books are most appropriate for Jose who are returning to the piano after a longer break. It's interesting to see Henle branch out into pedagogical publications!


9:00am Lost In Translation: Helping Students Connect with their Repertoie through the Subtleties of Musical Languages, by Ryan Greene and Thomas White.

In Ryan and Thomas's presentation, they shared some terms they have discovered and developed as a way of categorizing and talk about recognizable styles of music. Along the way, they shared plenty of musical example illustrating each style.

The styles include the Brilliant Style (as seen in scale passages in pieces by Clementi and Mozart), the Learned (Strict) Style (hearkening back to Baroque contrapuntal styles), the Singing Style (Chopin Nocturnes are exemplary), the Pastorale Style (based and nature and folk tunes and dances), the Turkish Style (an influence originating from the 1600s when the Ottomans were sieging Vienna), and Exoticism (when composers mimic a musical culture without complete integrity, such as "cowboys and Indians" subject matter or oriental music).

I found these categories fascinating. These are styles we commonly see in both pedagogical and standard classical repertoire and no doubt will prove useful for helpful students transfer experiences to new pieces.


Continue reading “NCKP 2017 (2): Thursday”

Conferences

NCKP 2017 (1): Wednesday Pre-Conference Seminars

Weeeeee! I'm blogging from here at the NCKP — the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy occurring in Lombard, Illinois. Amy Chaplin and I drove a five-ish hour trip to to get here and have been enjoying some wonderfully informative and inspiring sessions so far.

The first day of NCKP was the optional day of pre-conference seminars. This day consisted of a variety of tracks to choose from: technology, teaching students with special needs, musician wellness, collaborative pianists, young professionals, and independent piano teachers. Here's some notes from the sessions I attended.

1:30pm Keynote Address by Barbara Kreader

Barbara is the author of a new book, The Music of Teaching: Learning to Trust Students' Natural Development. This book focuses on the development of perception in our students and on what we as teachers can learn from our students.

Barbara gave a wonderful keynote address. She described a student of hers who found developing basic skills difficult. Barbara felt nearly out of ideas with this student, but found herself amazed at the ongoing tenacity and good naturedness of her student. She realized that this student likely struggled with other subject areas in school. She started asking the student for his ideas about what to do next. The student offered things like that he liked to stand when he felt frustrated and shake out the tension in his muscles. And he said he wanted to sing. They tried those things, and while it didn't make things magically easy, it did help. The student often will reveal what they need, if we just take the time to ask and listen.

Every child develops and matures at their own rate. Before a standardized school system, children graduated to the next skill, not to the next grade. And they did so when they were ready. It is not necessary for every student to graduate from one level to the next at the same time. As independent teachers, we are fortunate to have freedom to allow and nurture development appropriate for individual students.

Amy and I ran into Jennifer Foxx and Lynette Barney at this session. Conferences are wonderful for reconnecting with old friends and making new friends.


Continue reading “NCKP 2017 (1): Wednesday Pre-Conference Seminars”

Conferences, Professional Development

2017 NCKP and Other Upcoming Events

Hello, friends!

Any of you heading to the 2017 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Lombard, IL? I’m heading out tomorrow and am looking forward to long weekend full of fun and learning.

I will be participating during a session as one of the panelists on a session called “Carving Out Your Career Path” at 2:30pm during the Young Professionals Track tomorrow (Wednesday). Maybe I’ll see you there!

After NCKP is over, my conference buddy Amy Chaplin and I are staying in the Chicago area to attend the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) conference a few days later. This is the first time either of us have attended this conference, so we are looking forward to seeing what it’s like.

In other news, I thought I’d also list some upcoming presentations I’ve been adding to my calendar recently. If you happen to live in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, or Kentucky, I’d like to invite you to join me. I’d be happy to send you more details about these events upon request.

  • F, September 8, 2017: “Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory for Piano Teachers.” Wood-Ottawa Counties MTA (Bowling Green, OH).
  • F, September 29, 2017: “Teaching the Way We Learn: First Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory” with co-presenter Amy Chaplin. IndianaMTA state conference (Marion, IN).
  • Th, October 12, 2017: “Grounded in the Beat: Cultivating the Seeds of Rhythmic Fluency.” OhioMTA State Conference (Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert, OH).
  • M, November 6, 2017: “Teaching the Way We Learn: First Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory” with co-presenter Amy Chaplin. KentuckyMTA state conference (Lexington, KY).
  • F, November 10, 2017: “Alexander Technique for Piano Teachers & Students.” Northeast Indiana MTA (Fort Wayne, IN).
  • F, December 8, 2017: “App-Laudable Uses of Apps in Music Lessons.” Grand Rapids Piano Teachers Forum (Grand Rapids, MI).
  • F, April 6, 2018: “Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom in Method Books.” Western Reserve MTA (Cleveland, OH).

You can find my full calendar here, and my list of workshop topics here.

Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2017-18

I have just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2017-18 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but I still receive requests from teachers are using it so I am happy to update it again this year!

In case you haven’t seen this, here is how the form works: Write your students’ names in the first column.  Each week, write the lesson date (in a month / date format) in the column for that week.  This is how you can track attendance.  The small circles in each cell are where you can write checkmarks indicating tuition payments.  Whether you charge by-the-week or by-the-month, you can place a checkmark by each paid lesson date.

Screen-shot-2010-06-27-at-9.33.12-PM

Download it below or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2017-18) (84.6 KiB, 23,449 hits)

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain my current system for tracking payments received.

Music Camps, Music History

2017 Music History Camp

Last week, I held my Music History Blast From The Past camp. We had a blast! ;)

As in previous years, I used my own composer lapbook curriculum for this camp (available here). I know some of you will be very pleased to hear that I have created lapbooks for FOUR brand new composers this year, which will be added to the shop later this summer. Stay tuned!

Snack break is always a hit during camp. ;)

Fun with Scrabble tiles during break.

The four composers we studied this year are Domenico Scarlatti, Muzio Clementi, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. I am always amazed at the amount of information my students retain from this lapbook format. The pictures and the interaction with the information makes the history come alive.  Continue reading “2017 Music History Camp”

repertoire / methods

Video: A Peek Inside the Littlest Piano Method Book You Ever Did See

Hi there!

Earlier today, I went live on Facebook to take a peek inside the littlest piano method book in my collection. :) It’s called “Little Players: A Piano Book For Very Young Beginners,” by Robert Nolan Kerr. The copyright year is 1941.

I found this book among a boxful of other old sheet music I received from a retiring piano teacher. It’s an interesting piece of history. Join me in taking a closer look at this book!

Here is the Facebook Live video.

Taking a peek inside just about the cutest little piano method book I ever did see…

Posted by Color In My Piano blog on Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Here is what’s covered in the video:

  • 0:37  Check out the size of this little book compared to a typical-sized method book.
  • 1:47  Take a guess: which reading approach is used by this method book?
  • 3:06  Find out what “very young beginner” age the author intended this book to be for. Today, I think publications generally use “very young beginners” to mean age 4-6.
  • 3:27  Find out which touch (non-legato, legato, or staccato) the author expects the student will use throughout the book.
  • 4:30  Check out the 1940s era illustrations.
  • 5:42  It’s nice to see pieces in both duple and triple meter early on.
  • 6:11  This book contains a few interesting activities requiring students to experience meter through listening and moving to music the teacher plays.
  • 8:15  This is a method where the student is learning to play pieces through a combination of note and rote learning. Singing also seems to be encouraged.
  • 11:42  An early page in this book indicates that it was for group or individual instruction. Can you picture a classroom full of school children, each with their own copy of this little book?! :)

Thanks for exploring this old method book with me!

Questions for you: Have you ever before seen such an adorable mini-sized piano method book?! Do you teach your beginners to play with legato touch first, or do you do something else first? What other interesting observations do you have after taking a virtual peek with me inside this interesting piece of pedagogical history?

Thanks for watching!

P.S.: Why am I looking through old piano method books? It’s because I’m in the midst of preparations for Retreat at Piano Manor which I will be hosting later this summer, August 17-19, 2017! During the retreat, we will be looking through piano method books from across the decades, uncovering pedagogical wisdom relevant for us today. Be sure to watch the facebook page and here on the blog for future videos about piano methods.

Professional Development, repertoire / methods, Retreat

Video: Let’s Talk about John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers To Play”

Hi there!

Earlier today, I went live on Facebook to talk about one of my favorite old piano method books: the classic John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano. I have to admit certain bias for the “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” book. It was my first piano book when I was all of age 5. :)

Here is the Facebook Live video.

Let's talk about this classic piano method: John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano. I have to admit certain bias for the "Teaching Little Fingers" book because it was my first piano book when I was age 5. ??

Posted by Color In My Piano blog on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Here is what’s covered in the video:

  • 0:50  Get a peek inside an OLD copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers To Play” book by John Thompson.
  • 2:10  Why I like using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book sometimes today as a supplement.
  • 3:05  Get a peek inside a NEW copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book. The illustrations have been updated, but the version is otherwise pretty true to the original.
  • 3:35  How to address one of the potential pitfalls of using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book: the overabundance of finger numbers.
  • 4:47  How John Thompson was ahead of his time as a pedagogue. Or, perhaps there is really just “nothing new under the sun.” :) Hint: See the note on the cover of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book.
  • 7:04  Learn more about other music and resources John Thompson authored.

Questions for you: Have you ever used the John Thompson series? What do you appreciate about it?

Thanks for watching!

P.S.: Why am I looking through old piano method books? It’s because I’m in the midst of preparations for Retreat at Piano Manor which I will be hosting later this summer, August 17-19, 2017! During the retreat, we will be looking through piano method books from across the decades, uncovering pedagogical wisdom relevant for us today. Registration is now open and a few teachers have already registered. Be sure to watch the facebook page and here on the blog for future videos about piano methods.

Games

Scrabble Tiles in the Studio: Music Crossword Project

I just thought I’d share this idea my students and I are enjoying.

Some years back, I used to run an Etsy shop selling handcrafted items. Among the things I crafted, I used to make Christmas ornaments using Scrabble tiles. I still have a ton of tiles from games I purchased for $2 at the thrift store, now just waiting for a fun purpose.

Recently, I had the idea of putting out the tiles out in my studio. When students arrive early for their lessons or wait during a sibling’s lesson, I invite them to add a musical term or composer name to our crossword. They are loving this!

It’s fun to see how the crossword grows from week to week, and which music-related words they choose.

If you want to do this in your studio, all you need are a couple of Scrabble games (you can always sort out the tiles back out into separate games again afterwards) and some table space. I also put out a few music dictionaries, for word inspiration.

I’ll probably leave this out for a month or two, and then set it out again next year.

What other fun activity ideas have you used for your studio waiting room area?

_________________

By the way, here’s another use for Scrabble tiles in the studio:

In my game drawers, I also keep a black drawstring bag of Scrabble tiles containing only the letters of the musical alphabet. I use the tiles as a way for students to randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet during games such as The Amazing Keyboard Race, or deciding which scale to play that day. Students can also sort the tiles onto the piano keys.

DSC_20140210_135315_1

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Retreat

2017 Retreat: Schedule Now Posted

Just a quick post today to let you know that the Retreat at Piano Manor schedule has been posted on the retreat website here.

By the way: From now on, I’ll be sending registration information to the separate retreat email list instead of here on the blog. So, if you plan to attend, please be sure to join that email list!

If you can’t attend the retreat in person, don’t worry. Here on the blog, I will still be sharing plenty about the retreat so that you can experience it vicariously with us. Stay tuned!

Retreat

2017 Retreat | Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom From Method Books.

Hi there!

Today, I just wanted to share a little bit more regarding the retreat for piano teachers I’m planning in August 17-19, 2017.

The topic our retreat will be centered around is: Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom From Method Books.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE looking through piano method books — both old and new — to see what wisdom I can gain from each approach.

Just look at the beautiful color art of these two old piano methods! I can’t help but drool. ;)

This is the corner of my studio where all my piano method books live.

During the retreat, you’ll have the opportunity to share your own insights as we pore through a variety of piano method books published through the decades. We will all benefit from collective wisdom through combining our knowledge and experiences. I can’t wait!

Here’s the full description of the event:

Retreat at Piano Manor is a three-day experience for piano teachers to getaway in order to connect, ask questions, share, and become better teachers for our students. Together, we will explore the wisdom from piano methods beginning with early treatises and concluding with piano methods published in the 21st century. You will share your insights and teaching experiences with the rest of the group, and work with fellow attendees to review certain method books in-depth. While at “Piano Manor,” you’ll also enjoy relaxing downtime and deliciously healthy food planned by my foodie friend, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com.

At the end of the three days, you will have knowledge of the range of available piano method books, both old and new, and how to choose among them to match your students’ needs and desires. You’ll be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to try new method books of your choice, to increase your range of options and keep your teaching fresh. You will know when and how to supplement a method as needed, so your students develop musical skills without undue effort. Using this knowledge and skill set, you can create custom-tailored curriculums designed to nurture happily progressing students in your studio. Retreat at Piano Manor will leave you feeling inspired and connected, with newly formed friendships and fresh ideas for your teaching.

If you are interested in attending the retreat, read more here and then please be sure to join this special email list. The registration information will be sent out within the next week or so.

If you can’t attend the retreat, don’t worry: I’ll be sharing highlights in weeks ahead — of both the preparation process as well as the actual retreat activities. Watch here on the blog as well as my facebook page for updates!