Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Hello readers,

I apologize for the lack of posts this week – it is a busy and stressful time of the semester because there are just a couple of weeks left!  Thankfully (pun intended), I have the next two days off from classes/practicing/teaching, and I fully intend to take it easy!

So here’s wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with time with family & friends, good food, and music.

– Joy

Photo Credit: aussiegall | CC 2.0

improving as a teacher, Motivation, Teaching Piano

Teaching Tip: Engaging the Emotions

I read something this week that mentioned in passing the benefit of engaging the emotions for learning.  This idea really stuck with me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  It makes perfect sense, but I just never thought about it much before.  I think this idea is worth some consideration.

Neurologically, humans learn best when their emotions are engaged.  Various research has been done that suggests the benefit of learning when the emotions are engaged (see “For Further Reading” below).  An effective speaker will appeal to the listeners’ emotions in order to affect and influence them to agree with the points made, support the viewpoint, and maybe even motivate them to do something about it.  Similarly, an effective teacher will connect with the students’ emotions to make the student interested in the topic and motivated to learn.  When the emotions are engaged, the learning moment becomes both meaningful and memorable.

The art of music is very close to the heart and the emotions.  We music teachers are very fortunate!  And yet, how often do we encounter students who seldom practice?  How about unmotivated students who quit after just a few years?  And how often do we hear completely unemotional performances?  These things do happen, unfortunately.  We can help prevent this from happening.  Perhaps through engaging the emotions we can help students connect with the music and be interested/motivated. Continue reading “Teaching Tip: Engaging the Emotions”

Conferences, improving as a teacher

2011 MTNA Nat’l Conference: March 26-30

Fellow U.S. piano teachers – in case you haven’t seen it yet, registration is now open for the 2011 Music Teachers National Association’s National Conference which is taking place March 26-30 in Milwaukee!  Sign up before February 16 to receive the early bird rates.  Check out the conference website to view the schedule of sessions and to get more information.

If you aren’t already an MTNA member, you will need to become a member before registering for the conference.  There are many benefits to becoming an MTNA member — click here to learn more about MTNA on their website, and check out the video below.  This video was made by Robyn Pfeifer of the blog.  It is an interview with the current president of MTNA, Gary Ingle, discussing the benefits of being a member of MTNA.  Check it out!

Here’s another interview, again by Robyn, talking to a couple presenters from last year’s national conference.  If you want an idea about what the sessions at the conference are like, take a look!

I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a national conference before – only state ones, so I am really looking forward to this! I hope some of you can make it too!

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words.”

— Robert G. Ingersoll

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]

Practice, Technique

Practice Tips: Bringing out the Melody

About a week ago, I received an email from a reader who states that he is learning the Bach-Petri transcription of “Sheep May Safely Graze.”  (You may recall me posting a YouTube video of it here.)  He writes:

I am by no means a concert pianist, but I did take piano lessons for 14 years (1 year into college), but I have never encountered such a challenging melody as is presented by this piece.

Obviously, this piece will take a lot of time to master, but I am determined to learn it.  However, I was wondering if you could please  offer some practice tips such as how to bring out the melody, for instance, in measures 10 & 11?  I just don’t know the best method to train my 2nd and possibly 3rd fingers to bring out the melody while the other fingers play the counter melody.

Learning to bring out the melody properly is not easy!  However, the good news is that once you’ve developed this skill, you will likely be using it again for situations in other pieces.

Here are a few general practice tips for bringing out the melody:   Continue reading “Practice Tips: Bringing out the Melody”

Games, Resources

Over 20 Musical Spins on Favorite Games

Last week as I was browsing through some of my favorite music blogs, it occurred to me that it would be fun to see how many different familiar games music teachers have found ways to alter into music games!  And so I’ve started compiling a list:

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Music cleanses the understanding, inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.”

— Henry Ward Beecher

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]

repertoire / methods, Resources, seasonal / holiday

List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web

Christmas is on the way, whether you are ready or not!  My students are already starting to ask about Christmas music, so I’m doing some digging on the web to find places to print easy Christmas arrangements for free.

I also have a lending library of Christmas books that I’ve built over the years (mostly used books I find at garage sales and thrift shops), but printing music is great because they can keep it if they like.  When students wish to own their own Christmas books, I’m happy to get them for them — but I’m just as happy to give them printed arrangements from online because they only get used a few weeks out of the year.

Here are a few places I’ve found Christmas pdfs of sheet music for piano: Continue reading “List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web”

Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables

DIY: Musical AlphaGems

I recently have made what I have decided to call “Musical AlphaGems.”  These fun little gems have many uses: they fit well on my DIY Silent Mini Keyboards and also work well on paper printed of the staff (such as this one by Susan Paradis, which is pictured in the second photo below).

I got the inspiration for these Musical AlphaGems from those little magnets that have been so popular over the last couple of years (see this blog article).    Continue reading “DIY: Musical AlphaGems”


Interview with Composer Dror Perl

This post features an interview with Dror Perl, composer of the “Red,” “Purple,” and “Blue” book that were reviewed in this post.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 5 . I acquired my first music degree in Israel at Rimon school of Music.  Later my curiosity and love for Jazz brought me to NY where I started taking lessons with the legendary Barry Harris at his workshop.  I really enjoy the concerts and rich music scene that NY has to offer. In 2002, I continued my studies at ESC SUNY. I’ve been a professional musician and lived in NY ever since and have been traveling often overseas. Continue reading “Interview with Composer Dror Perl”

Motivation, Resources, Reviews

Book Review: “Red,” “Purple,” and “Blue” by Dror Perl

A few weeks ago, I received a friendly email from composer Dror Perl asking if I’d be willing to write a review of his music books.  I, of course, said yes, and so Dror sent me complimentary copies of the Red and Purple books.  Here is my full review of his wonderful books!