repertoire / methods, Resources

A New Adult Student Book on the Market: “Returning to the Piano” by Wendy Stevens

Check out this announcement at the blog: Wendy Stevens has written a new adult piano book entitled: Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults.  I often have a hard time deciding what adult method to use with my adult students.  Especially when they aren’t true beginners and have had previous experience with piano, I don’t like putting them through overly method-y books!  In addition, many adult students want to learn pieces with tunes that are familiar to them.  This book looks like it may be a good alternative for those types of situations, or simply as a supplement to an adult method.

Here is the description from the Hal Leonard site:

I just ordered a copy from and I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can try out all the arrangements myself!  =)

Group Classes, Memorization, Performances, Printables, Teaching Piano, Worksheets

Just added: Performing at the Piano Worksheet

Just added: a new free, printable worksheet called:

>  Performing at the Piano Worksheet

Just in time for the spring recital season, this fill-in-the-blank worksheet is intended to help prepare students for an upcoming recital or other performance by discussing stage presence and performance etiquette.

Terms/concepts covered in the worksheet:

  • Memorizing
  • Applause
  • Bowing
  • Checking the bench
  • and more.

This worksheet can either be sent home with students, completed one-on-one with the student during the lesson, or — my favorite — done as a group as a studio class or group lesson.   It would be fun to complete this worksheet as a group just before a practice run-through of a recital.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the P’s for “Performing at the Piano worksheet.”

Your turn!  Share your ideas for preparing students for recitals in the comments!

Announcements, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Motivation, Performances, repertoire / methods

Listening and Communicating in 4-Handed Piano Music

A colleague of mine and I are planning to learn some four-handed piano music this summer, and perhaps do a whole recital together of just four-handed music in the fall semester.  So I’ve been digging around on YouTube, looking for repertoire ideas.  And I have couple of cool videos to share with you today:


What a great video to show students!  Everything is so perfectly synchronized, and their playing is so beautifully expressive.  They are AMAZING musicians.

Here’s another fine duo team.  Perhaps the coolest thing about this video, however, is the piano they are playing on: a Pleyel Double Grand Piano!  I’ve never seen anything like it!


There are some important benefits of playing four-handed repertoire.  Both players must be actively listening and communicating with each other — not only so that they are together beat-wise and so that the melody and accompaniment ideas are balanced, but also so that they are playing musically together: shaping phrases together, executing rubato together, and calling and responding to each other’s melodic motives.  Developing these skills while working on four-handed repertoire can give a whole new perspective to solo piano repertoire!  Besides — working on four-handed music can be a lot of fun!  =)

Watching these videos looks like so much fun, I think I’m going to dig through the duet music on my shelf and find some duet pieces to assign to some of my students to work on over the summer too!

Composition, Resources

Decorate Your Studio Idea: Bach Invention Manuscripts

I just discovered these manuscript copies of Bach’s 2-part inventions over at the IMSLP’s Petrucci Music Library.  I always find free pdfs of music scores that I need on their site, but I never realized that they also have pdfs of some hand-written manuscript copies to download as well!  Although this is not Bach’s handwriting, but it is still a remarkable part of history — and looks really cool.  According to the site, this manuscript copy dates from around the 1790s.  Can you imagine having to copy music by hand?  What an art!

While I was so captivated by this manuscript copy, it occurred to me that printing some of these sheets off on acrylic print paper and then framing them would be a great way to decorate the walls of a piano studio!  I think students would really enjoy admiring the hand-written manuscripts, especially if they were working on the same piece.

To download:

Click this link to visit the Bach inventions page.  Scroll down until you see the download with the editor listed as “Peter Gronland” and says “Undated manuscript copy, 1790?”.  As always, be sure to carefully follow the site’s copyright restrictions for your country (in the US, basically all works published before 1923 are in the public domain).

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Navigating at the Keyboard Worksheet

A new free worksheet has just been added to the Printables page: Navigating at the Keyboard.

This worksheet is for young beginners who have only just recently been exposed to piano.  This worksheet is designed to help them become familiar with the layout of the keyboard so that they can locate and identify the keys by name.

This worksheet reinforces:

  • recognizing black-key groups of 2 versus 3
  • finding C on the keyboard
  • the musical alphabet (it only goes to G, and then repeats)
  • then finding D-G on the keyboard

This is an excellent worksheet to send home with a young student after their first piano lesson.  Visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the N’s for “Navigating at the Piano worksheet” to view it now!

repertoire / methods, Resources

Great Resources for Teachers with Beginner Staff-Readers

Susan Paradis from the Piano Teacher Resources blog has written has excellent review of the The Perfect Start for Piano by Kevin & Julia Olson, a series of books intended for reinforcing note-reading on the staff for beginners and elementary level students.  They look great – I love that fact that they are designed to work with whatever method books you are using with your student!  To learn all about it, read her review here.  Thanks, Susan!

The Perfect Start for Piano also has a corresponding website,, which provides additional FREE resources for the teacher and student.  Check it out and you will find:

  • a variety of printable flashcards
  • note naming worksheets
  • audio files which correspond with the book
  • and other resources, including practice record sheets, keyboard stickers, and posters to post in the studio.
Announcements, Motivation, Performances, Teaching Piano, Technology

A Follow-up on Recording Students Before Performances

I don’t know about you, but I have some students who are participating in a spring performance coming up soon!  Last week, I recorded my student Jean playing her recital piece during her lesson (click to read more about recording students as preparation for performances).  Then we spent some time listening and discussing the recording.  Although it took a little bit of time to set up the devices need for recording ahead of time, I found that it was well-worth the time setting everything up and spending on doing a recording activity.

The set-up:

Using my digital recorder as an external microphone, I was able to capture video with high sound quality using iMovie software on my MacBook Pro.  Later on, I edited the videos using iMovie again and uploaded them to YouTube.  (If anyone would like more details about how exactly this is done, just ask! I can explain further.)

The result:


The piece Jean is playing is an arrangement of Borodin’s Polovetsian Dance, from Dennis Alexander’s book, Especially For Adults. Continue reading “A Follow-up on Recording Students Before Performances”

Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Performances, Practice, Teaching Piano, Technology

Preparing for Student Recitals: Recording!

Many of us teachers are probably currently preparing our student for spring recitals, so today I thought it might be beneficial to discuss a way of preparing for performances: recording your students playing their pieces, and then listening to the playback together.

Benefits of Recording

  • The student practices performing. Playing for a recording device can be almost as nerve-wracking as playing for an audience!  There’s no better way to practice handling nerves than to perform often.
  • The student becomes the listener. When listening to the playback, the student is given the opportunity to hear what the piece sounds like from an audience member’s perspective.  The student is bound to aurally notice things that they had not realized they were doing (or NOT doing, as the case may be).  For example, the student may realize that the dynamic contrasts are not really coming through, or that the melody is not projecting over the accompaniment as well as s/he had thought.
  • The student becomes the teacher.  After listening to the playback, the student can evaluate piece and identify the areas that went well or could be improved, and then begin discuss ways to improve the piece. Continue reading “Preparing for Student Recitals: Recording!”