repertoire / methods

A Fun Memory and a Great Rote/Halloween Piece for Piano Students

Today, I have a story to share and a recommendation for a fun piece of music for Halloween or anytime!

A few years ago while sifting through a box of old music given to me by a retiring teacher, I came across a piece of sheet music with a distinctive cover I recognized. It was a piano solo called “Big Foot” by Kevin E. Cray and published by Schaum Publications. “Big Foot” was a piece I remembered my younger brother playing back when we were growing up. It was a piece he LOVED and played constantly, especially once he could play it from memory. The piece became a family favorite, one that we would often request he play.

Rediscovering this piece and recalling those memories caused me to want to teach “Bigfoot”! Upon searching online, I was unable to find the sheet music available. So, I assumed it must have gone out of print. I scrounged around through my music library and was able to find the original sheet music my brother used. I felt lucky to have my own personal copy to keep as well as the newly acquired sheet to give to a student.

I gave the piece to a student who I thought would enjoy the piece. Here’s a video from 2019 of Nate playing “Bigfoot.” Teaching this piece was really fun!

Fast-forward to today…

A teacher who recently happened across Nate’s video let me know that the sheet music for “Bigfoot” is available after all! Though no longer available as a sheet music solo, “Bigfoot” is available as part of a compilation series called, Schaum – Short & Sweet, Halloween Level Three. This book was compiled and edited by Wesley Schaum and contains six spooky solos by various composers. “Bigfoot” is the final selection in the book.

As you can imagine, I was pretty thrilled at the news and ordered myself a copy immediately! I’m pleased to be able to teach this piece again to students in the future.

Anyway, I just thought it would be fun to share those fond memories and recommend this teaching piece to other teachers. I hope you’ll agree “Big Foot” is appropriate for Halloween or anytime. It’s a piece that sounds impressive and isn’t as quite difficult to play as it looks/reads. If you are a teacher who likes to teach pieces by rote/ear, you might be interested in adding “Big Foot” to your teaching repertoire. The patterns and structure of this piece make it easy to memorize. Although the piece is labeled as Early Intermediate, I think it can be given to a Late Elementary or even Mid Elementary level student if you teach it at least partly by ear and work section by section.

The Schaum – Short & Sweet, Halloween Level Three book containing “Big Foot” can be purchased at your local music store or online retailers including Amazon | SheetMusicPlus.com | PrimaMusic.com. Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Thanks so much for supporting my blog!


Your turn: What pieces of music from YOUR past hold special memories for you or your family? Or do you have any favorite rote pieces to recommend? Please share with us by leaving a comment!

Games

Getting out my Trick-or-Treat rhythm game!

It’s that time of year — time to pull out my Trick-or-Treat! rhythm game! During the weeks leading up to Halloween, I like to use my Trick-or-Treat rhythm game at pretty much every student’s lesson. It’s a fun way to make students “earn” their treat, and it’s such a great game for building their rhythm skills. Best of all, they LOVE this game!

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Reviews

REVIEW: Carol Matz’s Christmas Music for Piano Students

Are you familiar with Carol Matz and her Interactive Piano Method?

Carol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method is unique for providing a corresponding, interactive online experience for students alongside their printed lesson books. If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about her method here on her website.

But in today’s blog post, I’d like to focus on Carol’s Christmas arrangements. After all, it’s that time of year when many of us are prepping Christmas music for our students!

Around this time last year, I purchased Carol’s Christmas Deluxe Collection, a bundle of 15 studio-licensed pieces. And let me tell you, it was such a lifesaver! It was exactly what I needed at the time, especially given that I was still teaching entirely online at that point. More on this collection later, below.

When I recently found out that Carol was getting ready to release a couple of new bundles this year, I reached out to her to collaborate for this blog post and give you the full scoop. 🙂 In this review, I’ll give you an overview of all of Carol’s Christmas music offerings as well as a limited-time promo code just for Color In My Piano readers. Read on.

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Conferences

2021 MMTA State Conference

Just popping in for a quick post today!

Last weekend, I attended an incredible 2-day state conference put on by the Michigan Music Teachers Association. I feel so fortunate to be part of such an amazing organization of music teachers here in Michigan. It was an outstanding event — definitely high on my list of memorable conferences. Huge thanks goes to the efforts of many hardworking folks behind it all. Oh, and can I also add, it felt SO good to be back at an in-person music event.

Our guest artist was Norman Krieger; guest conference clinicians were William Chapman Nyaho and Heather Nelson Shouldice (have you checked out her podcast on MLT?); and we also heard from a number of our own MMTA members presenting 20-minute talks.

I also just wanted to let you know that I recently switched my blog over to a new web hosting service. My site has been running on the slow side — perhaps you’ve noticed? After much troubleshooting and tweaks, I finally decided it was time to switch to another service and a faster plan. Things seem to be running super fast now, which makes me a happy camper. I hope your user experience on my website will feel great thanks to the increased speed!

If you have feedback or ever encounter any problems with my blog, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’d love to hear from you!


Your turn: Getting back to state conferences now… For those of you who are members of MTNA, what has been the status of your state organization? Have they been able to remain active in one way or another during the pandemic?

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes

Review: “Music Play” Early Childhood Music Curriculum by Edwin E. Gordon et al.

In recent conversations with a couple of piano teachers, I was asked there is a review available here on my blog about Music Play, a book I like to draw from for movement and ear/audiation activities with my young daughter and my piano students. Look no further, friends — here’s my full review!

Continue reading “Review: “Music Play” Early Childhood Music Curriculum by Edwin E. Gordon et al.”
Teaching Piano

How to Create a “MEET OUR PIANISTS” Student Photo Wall

Back in 2017, I shared my “About Me” Student Profile cards that I hung on the walls in my studio. Now that I am moved back to Michigan and am settled in my new studio, I figured it was time to do something similar again! I love for my students to feel part of a studio community and be able to see each other’s faces, even if only thanks to photos. 😉

And so, I started browsing Pinterest and Amazon to find ideas for various ways to display student photos. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the best ideas I found as well as the resulting photo wall I ended up with for my students. I’ll also share a couple of free printables I created in the process, which you are welcome to use for your own photo wall. Read on, friends!

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Teaching Piano

Meet my new digital piano: a Kawai CN29!

I bought a new digital piano! It’s a Kawai CN29.

The backstory: My grand piano has ivory keys I don’t want to use sanitizers on, so I’ve been using my digital pianos since transitioning my Michigan students to in-person lessons. (Fortunately, I can still use my grand for online lessons!) My current digital pianos are old and in need of update, so I started researching and looking at models at a couple of local stores.

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Motivation

An Update to my Incentive Program and Prize Box for Piano Students

In the past, I’ve shared about my easy, ongoing incentive program for my piano students. You can read a more complete blog post from 2009 about it here.

Basically, the summary is that for every 30 pages of music students learn (or theory pages completed), a prize is earned from the prize box. My goal was to have a simple program that was easy to track and that rewarded the kinds of things my students should be doing anyway. A simple incentive program can make things fun and help reinforce the kinds of things you wish students to be focused on. My students know that a given piece needs to reach a certain level of mastery before they can “pass” it and go on to the next.

I have maintained this simple incentive program consistently for years (although, I’ll admit I’ve taken a little time off from it recently due to pandemic online teaching and relocating to Michigan). However, I recently came up with a slight improvement to this method that I think will make it EVEN EASIER to maintain.

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Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2021-22

Just a quick post today! 

I just finished updating one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2021-22 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 multiple requests from teachers asking if I would please update it for the upcoming school year! 

In case you haven’t seen this from before, here is how it 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.

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

  Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment (2021-22) (177.6 KiB, 33,329 hits)

P.S.: Here is a link to where I explain an alternative system for tracking payments received. But nowadays, I enter everything into a Google Sheet! I explain my system and share the spreadsheet in my online course for piano teachers, Excellence for Piano Teachers. If you’re interested, you can learn more and join the email list to be notified when the next session is offered (usually in January).

Hope you are having a great week, everyone!

Giveaways

Giveaway Winners: Wendy Chan’s “Music Escapades Shoppe” Teaching Resources

Congratulations to our two randomly-selected winners: Chloe and Lydia! Winners, please watch your inbox for an email from Wendy arriving very soon.

Thank you all for joining in on the fun and entering the giveaway! It was so much fun to team up with Wendy and see all your comments come through. I hope you’ll consider browsing Wendy’s beautiful teaching resources if you haven’t already. She’s offering my readers a special SALE. Here’s the details:

Promo code CIMP15 will give you 15% off any order. Or, use CIMP20 for 20% off for orders of $75 or more. All orders above $49 will ship free within US and Canada.

Click here to visit her shop now. This sale ends August 31, 2021, so don’t delay if you plan to order!

Happy teaching, everyone!

Giveaways

Reminder: Enter the Giveaway for Wendy Chan’s Teaching Resources from MusicEscapades.com!

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Just a quick reminder today…

It’s not too late to enter the giveaway for a teaching resource from Wendy Chan’s Music Escapades Shoppe! TWO winners residing in the US or Canada will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. To enter, visit THIS POST and leave a comment there about Wendy’s wonderful Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase board.

Have a great weekend, everyone! ??? ?

Reviews

Follow-up Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s Teaching Resources from MusicEscapades.com

About a year ago (August 2020), I wrote a review and giveaway post about Wendy Chan’s wonderful Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase board and a few other of her wonderful teaching resources. Well, today, I’m happy to share an update about her materials and offer a GIVEAWAY (keep reading)!

Wendy’s Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase Board has been such a great resource in my teaching over the past year. I keep it within arm’s reach when I teach and find myself using it on a near-daily basis in my lessons, both online and in-person.

Continue reading “Follow-up Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s Teaching Resources from MusicEscapades.com”