Announcements

2019 Piano Teacher Retreat Highlights

This was definitely a highlight of my summer — hosting a third annual Piano Teacher Retreat! This involved three days and fourteen teachers exploring this year’s theme: rhythm and Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our shared three days of discussing, learning, laughing, and musicking. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend this time with this wonderful group of teachers. 

The event was held at my home in Bowling Green, Ohio, August 1-3, 2019. Nine of us stayed overnight here in my home, while the other five were hosted at my colleagues’ homes nearby.

These ladies arrived with coordinating black-and-white, and red-white-and-blue! :)

We began our first day by breaking out into small groups to research some introductory information about Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory.

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General

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2019-20

Just a quick post today!

I just finished updating one of the studio business forms from the Printables page for the 2019-20 school year.  It is called the Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment PDF.  I do not currently use this form myself anymore, but every year I receive requests from teachers asking if I would update it for the upcoming school 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.

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

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2019-20) (203.4 KiB, 28,501 hits)

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

Performances

What To Play at Your Students’ Recitals

[Note: This is a follow-up to 5 Reasons to Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals.]

Looking for ideas for pieces to play when performing alongside your students at student recitals? Here’s a few considerations.

  • Don’t think your piece has to be long, overly advanced, or showy/virtuosic. The goal is to share something fun and valuable for your students to hear. Why not play a piece your high schoolers could play someday? Why not refresh a piece you’ve previously learned?
  • Is there classical repertoire you are currently working on, or would love for your students to hear? How about a Beethoven or Haydn Sonata movement, or a Chopin Nocturne or Waltz? Or how about a short piece by Debussy, Muczynski, Gershwin, Tcherepnin, or Bartok?
  • Short on practice time? How about an intermediate or advanced sheet music single by a pedagogical composer, such as Melody Bober, Catherine Rollin, or Robert Vandall?
  • How about something familiar and/or popular? For example, an arrangement of a classic such as “What A Wonderful World” or “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”? Or what about a lovely hymn arrangement? For something flashy and fun, how about a virtuosic transcription by Jarrod Radnich? Did you know Nancy Faber wrote a fun jazz/pop arrangement of “Canon in D”?
  • Do you like to compose? How about playing something you wrote yourself? Students with the same inclinations might find this especially inspiring!
  • Do you have an advanced student or colleague who would enjoy playing a duet with you?
  • What friends do you have who play instruments other than piano? It might be fun to collaborate with another instrumentalist.
  • Idea from a reader: Have students vote from a shortlist of pieces you could play at the recital. Surprise them on recital day with the piece that gets the most votes.
  • Switch it up each year!

I’m curious: What are examples of pieces YOU have played at your studio recitals? Please post in the comments.

P.S. Perhaps you’ve noticed: My web host company has been having server issues for the past few days, causing my website to be difficult to access. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. I believe the issue is now resolved. Thanks for understanding!

Performances

5 Reasons To Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals

Here’s a few reasons why I perform alongside my students at our studio recitals.

1: It creates an opportunity for my students to hear me play. They shouldn’t be surprised that, yes, their piano teacher can perform and play quite nicely! ;)

2: It gives me a goal to practice towards. This is good for me! It makes me practice. 

3: By putting myself through the same performance situation as my students, I stay in touch with what it feels like for my students. Empathy helps me be a better teacher as my students go through the recital preparation process.

4: It creates an opportunity for me to be a good model for my students, in terms of conducting myself onstage, playing well, etc.

5: It’s fun to pick out and perform a special piece to show my students.

I’m curious: Do YOU perform alongside your students at studio recitals?

Edit: Here’s some fun ideas: What To Play at Your Students’ Recitals.

Group Classes, Performances

2019 Masterclass Exchange

Over the weekend, I held my fifth annual masterclass exchange for my students.

What’s a masterclass exchange? Well, it’s when I ask a piano teacher friend/colleague to come in and work with a group of my students. In return, I offer to work with a group of his/her students. I hold this event every year as one of my students’ monthly “Piano Party” group classes. We use it as a way to rehearse for our upcoming studio recital.

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Conferences

MTNA 2019 (6): Wednesday, March 20

[Click here to go back to Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4, or Day 5.]

Wednesday is always the final day of the MTNA national conference. There were two morning sessions on the schedule.

8:00am Teaching The Way We Learn: Applications Of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT), by Amy Chaplin & Joy Morin

Amy Chaplin and I were so pleased when we were notified our proposal was accepted back in June! It was an honor to be able to give our presentation about some of the core principles from Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT) at a national conference.

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Conferences

MTNA 2019 (5): Tuesday, March 19

[Click here to go back to Day 1Day 2, Day 3, or Day 4.]

On Tuesday morning, Ruth, Christina, I spent some time in the exhibit hall, checking out more booths and shopping for music. :) For example, we visited Eik at her Sproutbeat booth.

While in the exhibit hall, I bumped into Sam Holland and took the liberty of introducing myself. He and I have been corresponding recent via email, because I am serving on the conference planning committee for the next OhioMTA state conference (October 24-26-, 2019) and Sam is going to be our guest pedagogue!

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Conferences

MTNA 2019 (4): Monday, March 18

[Click here to go back to Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3.]

Here are more of my notes from the 2019 MTNA Conference in Spokane, Washington!

8:00am The Royal Conservatory of Music showcase: Well-Rounded Musicianship: The Pathway To A Lifetime Of Music Making, by Janet Lopinski and Elaine Rusk

First thing in the morning, I chose to attend the RCM showcase session highlighting the Celebration Series books (I LOVE these books and use them constantly in my teaching, especially the Prep A and Prep B levels. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth it IMO) and the accompanying Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests books. RCM always does a great job with their showcase sessions.

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Conferences

MTNA 2019 (3): Sunday, March 17

[Click here to go back to Day 1 or Day 2.]

Sunday the 17th was the first full official day of the conference (not including the optional “Pedagogy Saturday”). That means the exhibit hall now open open, and there were a couple showcase sessions (sponsored sessions) scattered throughout the day.

For this year’s conference, my composer friend Paula Dreyer had asked me if I would be willing to be part of her team working at her Little Gems for Piano booth in the exhibit hall. I happily agreed, and enjoyed helping out a few hours each day at her booth! I also helped with Paula’s first-ever showcase session.

8:00am Little Gems for Piano: Rote and Pattern Pieces That Motivate and Captivate: Spark The Love of Music With Simply Beautiful And Expansive Repertoire For All Levels!, by Paula Dreyer

Paula Dreyer gave a wonderful presentation about her compositions for young pianists and why/how to use rote pieces in your teaching. She has a number of books of rote pieces for students now available, plus an early advanced suite called “Under a Flamenco Sky”.

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Conferences

MTNA 2019 (2): Pedagogy Saturday, March 16

[Click here to go back to Day 1.]

I’m so excited to share with you highlights from the recent 2019 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) national conference!

Pedagogy Saturday is an optional day of the conference, comprised of a variety of “tracks”: Advanced Piano/Teaching Artistry, Entrepreneurism, Musician Wellness, Recreational Music Making, and Teaching Students With Special Needs. It’s not easy to decide which sessions to attend, but I ended up choosing the Advanced Piano/Teaching Artistry track for most of the day, and then I switched to the Recreational Music Making track in the afternoon.

8:00am The Secret Lives of Phrases: Lies, Near Lies and Red Herrings, by Deborah Rambo Sinn

Deborah Rambo Sinn gave an interesting session about deconstructing phrases in order to build lyricism. She shared interesting examples from the piano literature where the phrase markings are confusing or deceiving.

So often, we find phrases marked in a way that does not reflect the way the phrase seems to go. Why do composers write slur markings that end before the phrase actually ends? Sometimes, it because the composers are making sure we don’t break a phrase in a particular place. Today’s composers are doing a much better job than composers of the past in marking phrases the way they want them played.

In her teaching and in her own study, Deborah finds it useful to find and mark the phrases, sub-phrases, and sub-sub-phrases in a melody. In this work, there are no right answers. Instead, it’s a matter of finding an answer that works.

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (2): Pedagogy Saturday, March 16”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (1): Friday, March 15

I’m back from Spokane for the 2019 MTNA National Conference! It was wonderful. Here’s is the first of a series of posts about the conference and the sessions I attended.

My flight departed from Detroit on Friday the 15th at 4:30am (!!). After late night packing on Thursday, I decided to stay up rather than go to bed (haha), because my husband and I needed to be up at 1am to be able to leave on time to get to the airport an hour’s drive away. I managed to doze a little on the first flight, fortunately. I had a two-hour layover in Denver and landed in Spokane around 10am.

My wonderful host, Ruth Michaelis, had her daughter pick me up from the airport. Then, Ruth and I spent a couple of hours just chatting and getting to know each other. She is SO much fun.

I had offered to give Ruth’s students an informal masterclass, which we held at 2pm that afternoon.

Ruth’s students are preparing for their recital this weekend. I worked with each student on their piece, while engaging the rest of the students in the room in listening and responding to what they were hearing.

For dinner that evening, Ruth and I met up with Lynnette Barney. We enjoyed a nice meal and chatted about teaching and life in general. For some reason, I forgot to take a nice photo of us enjoying our time together but I remembered to take a food picture. (haha!)

I turned in to bed pretty early that evening, because my body was still on Eastern time. :) Tomorrow was to be Pedagogy Saturday: a full day! Stay tuned.

[Update: Click here to read about Day 2.]

Conferences

Heading out to MTNA’s 2019 National Conference!

Hi there! Just a quick note today —

#1: I’m wondering how many of you are attending MTNA 2019 in Spokane? If so, are you free Monday evening?? I would love to connect with you and hangout! Please send me an email or friend and message me via Facebook.

#2: Below are the sessions I will be involved with during the conference. Please come, and say hi afterwards!

  • Saturday, March 16: “Games & Activities for Groups“, a 20-minute presentation during Pedagogy Saturday’s Recreational Music Making (RMM) track.
  • Wednesday, March 20 @ 8:00am: “Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT)” with co-presenter Amy Chaplin.
  • Wednesday, March 20 @ 9:15am: “Creativity Throughout: A Panel Discussion on the Business Side of Teaching“, appearing as a panelist.

#3: Plus, I’m excited to be helping Paula Dreyer at her Little Gems for Piano booth in the exhibit hall! If you haven’t seen Paula’s books of rote pieces for young pianists, I highly recommend checking out her website here.

Stay tuned for highlights from the conference! :)