Announcements, Composition, improving as a teacher, Resources, Technology

A Closer Look at MuseScore: FREE music notation software

Picture 5
Screenshot of my demo song in MuseScore. Click to enlarge.

Move over, Finale and Sibelius!  There’s somebody new in town.  MuseScore is a music notation software available FREE online for anyone to download.  After doing a brief test drive last spring (mentioned here), I decided to take a closer look now that it’s available for Mac users.

I’ve been a faithful Finale user since 2005, mainly because Finale is the software of choice at the colleges I’ve attended.  I use Finale to make worksheets for my students and to notate my original compositions and arrangements.  Buying Finale 2009 last September cost me an arm and a leg, so I was quite curious to see how MuseScore would compare.  Is it worth spending all that money on Finale when you can get MuseScore for free?   Continue reading “A Closer Look at MuseScore: FREE music notation software”

Composition, Resources

MuseScore: free music notation software

Have you heard about the new free music notation software called MuseScore?  I have heard nothing but favorable reviews about it thus far.  Personally, I do not currently have a great need for it, since I use Finale software at college.  But this may very well be a great resource for teachers who do not wish to invest in expensive music notation software (let me tell you, Finale costs an arm and a leg!) or, for students who have an interest in composition.  I was glad to hear about MuseScore.  Ever since Finale started charging ~$10 to download Finale Notepad (a simple, previously-free version of Finale), I have been on-the-lookout for something else to recommend to my students.

Mac users are unfortunately out of luck, because MuseScore is currently only available for PC’s. [Correction: MuseScore IS indeed now available for Macs.  Sorry for the misinformation!] I breifly tried out this software on my husband’s PC, and it seems to be fairly user-friendly.  If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to Finale or Sibelius, MuseScore is worth a look!

[Now that MuseScore is available for Macs, I plan to download it and blog more about it soon. Check back soon!]

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“What I have in my heart and soul must find a way out. That is the reason for music…”

— Ludwig Van Beethoven

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 an email off to admin[at]  


“New” works by Mozart

Perhaps you’ve heard some of the commotion about the discovery of some “new” works by Mozart.  Pretty exciting stuff! Check out the movie below: 


I enjoyed hearing this piece played on an instrument from the time period.  It really changes your perspective on the music.

In addition:

  • Listen to “the premiere” of a Mozart chamber music (from the same performance), also available on youtube, by clicking here
Resources, Technique

Photos demonstrating Proper Posture at the Piano

Picture 4Over at The Well-Balanced Pianist website, Dr. Tereasa Dybvig has some wonderful before-and-after pictures of students demonstrating posture at the piano.  Let me tell you, a picture truly tells a thousand words!  I’ve never before seen such a clear demonstration of the effects of incorrect posture.  Bench height, distance from the piano, and having feet flat on the ground really do matter.  Take a look!  (Scroll down about halfway to get to the pictures.)

Music Camps, repertoire / methods, Resources

A Comparison of 5 different Piano Methods

Picture 5I found a very interesting chart at today, comparing what are probably the top 5 most popular piano methods:

  • Alfred’s Basic Library
  • Bastien Piano Basics
  • The Music Tree
  • Piano Adventures
  • Hal Leonard Student Piano Library

Although this chart is probably somewhat outdated (for example, Alfred has recently introducted their new Premier series), there is still valuable information to be found.  The chart compares the reading approach, rhythm/counting approach, Technique sequence, format/layout, and more.  And the chart is available for download in both pdf and Microsoft Word document form. 

Also available at

  • Some great ideas for holding a summer Music History Camp – click here
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

— William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride

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 an email off to admin[at]

Group Classes, Performances

International Day of Collaborative Music: January 22, 2011

Doesn’t seem like there’s a holiday for every day?  You know, we all hear about days like Chocolate Day (July 7).  And don’t tell me you missed National Creamsicle Day (August 14).  It’s true.  You really can find a holiday for every day.  (Check out this website, for starters).  It’s getting kind of ridiculous. 

But here’s a really good one that piano teachers can take advantage of:  International Day of Collaborative Music, January 22, 2011.  I know it’s a ways off, but reading about it in American Piano Teacher (August/September issue, page 24, where MTNA annouces the Year of Collaborative Music — a yearlong celebration of collaborate music making, to take place from March 2010 to March 2011.) caused me to start brainstorming…

The Year of Collaborative Music and the International Day of Collaborative Music could be the perfect excuse to pair up students and assign some duet music and have some good old-fashioned fun.  Assigning them their parts before they go off on Christmas Break could be the perfect way to allow them to have a break from their regular pieces and provide an incentive to do some practicing over the break.  Then when January 22, 2011 rolls around, it’s time for the celebration!  The students could try out/perform their duets in an informal setting and enjoy fellowship, food, and most importantly, good music.  This could make for quite a fun group lesson for the month of January. 

Alas, January 2011 is still afar off.  The planning of all the details can wait until Summer 2010.  But hey, it’s something fun to plan towards.   But in the meantime — Happy Bad Poetry Day to you!  And should you have forgotten, tomorrow is Snuffleupagus’s Birthday (from Sesame Street).  Don’t forget to celebrate


Top 10 Issues for Music Teachers in 2009

I just finished reading the August/September 2009 issue of American Music Teacher.  Perhaps you’ve already read it too, if you’re a member of MTNA. 

I was struck by an article written by Lezlee Bishop, 2009 Top Issues Project (pg. 27).  Her article presents the results of a survey run from February 1 through April 30, 2009, with participation from 46 states and 1,118 teachers.  According to the article, “Teachers were asked to choose five of the items on the list that were most important to them.”  The top results:

  1. Teaching students who are over scheduled in today’s society: 768 votes
  2. Making a living at teaching, and setting fees accordingly: 533 votes
  3. Positive communication with parents and students: 503 votes
  4. Being connected to other teachers: 502 votes
  5. Developing and following through on studio policies: 377 votes
  6. Respect in the community for what I know and what I do: 357 votes
  7. Continue my own instrumental study: 306 votes
  8. Marketing myself as a music teacher: 294 votes
  9. Taxes, records and deductible expenses: 276 votes
  10. Continuing Education/Being an advocate for the arts in my community: 267 votes

Fastinating, eh?  I was intrigued to see what other teachers are being challenged by today.  How many of you were surprised by the #1 answer?  Not me. 

Which of these issues have you experienced?


Free Easy Piano Arrangements for Students

Have you ever had a student who has a particular interest for learning familiar tunes?  The internet is becoming a wonderful resource for easy piano arrangements – which you can commonly download and print for free.  One site in particular that I have turned to frequently for my students is a site called G Music Theory by Gilbert DeBenedetti.  His arrangements were perfect for a student I once had who wanted to be able to play some of her favorite songs.  So I assigned a few of these “just for fun” pieces for her to learn on her own.  It was a big hit – she loved them. 

When you visit his site and click on Free Piano Music, you’ll find that he has a large amount of music sorted by difficulty (from Beginning to Intermediate) – including some duet music.  What a great resource for those adults or little ones who want to learn to play their favorite tunes! 

Be sure to check out the rest of the site – there are a number of music theory worksheets and other resources available as well.