repertoire / methods

Faber Piano Adventures 2nd Edition

Have you heard the news about the new 2nd Editions of the Faber Piano Adventures?  They’ve completed a revision of the Primer and Level 1 books, and will be doing Level 2 (and beyond?) at a later date.

At the MTNA conference, I had the opportunity to look at the new books at the Hal Leonard booth in the Exhibit Hall (and even take home a free copy of the Primer Level Performance book!).

You can visit their website to read about all the updates made in the new 2nd Editions, but below are a few highlights:

  • The back of the books shows a chart that shows the books and supplemental materials available.  The front of the books also has “2nd Edition” marked clearly in the upper left hand corner.
  • Inside the front cover, there is a progress chart that clearly shows the progression and introduction of concepts for easy lesson planning.
  • The Theory book more closely follows the concepts and artwork of the Lesson Book.
  • The Theory book contains more creative activities, such as improvisation and composition activities.
  • New repertoire has been added to the Performance and Lesson Books for more variety at your recitals.
  • A new Sightreading Book has been added to the Primer Level and Level 1!  It is a thick, black and white book with short examples to sightread.  Students are instructed, “Don’t Practice This!” and to cross out the page once they’ve sightread the page for that day.
  • A new Teacher Guide is available!

The Piano Adventures method is one of my favorites to use with students (although I deliberately do my best to use a variety of methods with my students), and these updates look great to me!  What do you think?


Giveaway Reminder and More

Hello all,

I am currently in Milwaukee at the MTNA National Conference and I have to say I am THRILLED to be here! I am learning so much, meeting new people, and getting so tons of free teaching materials (which is already adding up to almost entirely cover my expenses of attending the conference)!

I am so excited to share more about the conference soon – but for now, I just wanted to send a reminder to enter the giveaway for Keri & Carolyn’s Blank Board Game before time runs out! Don’t forget to leave your comment(s) before midnight of March 31!

More later!


Conferences, Resources

2011 MTNA Conference, Here I Come!

I am so excited to be attending the MTNA National Conference for the first time ever!  Because I have to accompany for a recital this weekend, I will only be there for about 24 hours but I am just thrilled to be able to go at all.

In preparation, I’ve been reading up on what other more experienced conference-goers advise to bring along.  Check it out!

What tips can you offer a first-time national conference goer?  =D


More About the Logistics of Setting Up A Blog

I frequently receive emails from readers who are curious to know more about how to go about setting up a blog.  I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this for a while to help answer those questions, and finally, here it is: a guide to the logistics of setting up a blog!

There are two things you need in order to have a website:

  1. A domain name.  (e.g.,, or
  2. A place to store your website on the internet; i.e., a web hosting service.

Both of these things are available free, or you can pay for them.

Domain Names

You can get a free domain name with a free blogging service such as or — but it will have their name also tagged onto the end of it (e.g.,  If you would rather have the whole name yourself, you can buy annual rights to a domain name at a site such as (owned by Google).  This makes it a little easier for followers of your blog to remember your url.

If you decide to purchase your own domain name, try to choose something that is not too long and is easy to remember in connection to your blog’s name and topic.

Sometimes I get asked about which free blogging service is best, after all, there are so many and they all basically do the same thing.  Most people use Blogger or WordPress.  I personally prefer WordPress because I think it’s more user friendly, but you can try them all out for free so there’s no reason not to. Continue reading “More About the Logistics of Setting Up A Blog”

Games, Giveaways

March 2011 Giveaway: Blank Board Game by Piano Stars

Announcing a new giveaway, from the ladies from Piano Stars!  You’ve read all about Keri & Carolyn in yesterday’s interview, and now you have a chance to win one of their teaching materials: a Blank Board Game that allows you to customize the game each time you use it!

Continue reading “March 2011 Giveaway: Blank Board Game by Piano Stars”

Games, Interviews, Music Camps, Studio Business

Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars

Meet Keri and Carolyn.  They are two cousins and piano teachers out of Canada who teamed up to establish their successful piano studio, Piano Stars.  They also sell some unique and original piano teaching materials on their website (click here) and on Etsy.  When I stumbled across their Etsy shop one day, I just had to order a couple of their wonderful music spinners (pictured below)!  Once I contacted Keri and Carolyn, they kindly agreed to be interviewed and featured here at Color In My Piano.  Read on!

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Joy: Please tell us about your piano backgrounds!

Keri & Carolyn: We both started piano lessons when we were 7, but due to our age difference Carolyn was actually my (Keri’s) piano teacher growing up! Carolyn has her ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and I am working on my Grade 10 with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

How long have you been running your piano studio together?

We have been working together since 2003 for our summer camps, composing and creating games & teacher resources. However, we both have our own home studios for private lessons and teach about 60 students each.

Even though we teach out of our own homes we plan all of our piano events together. We have the same incentive programs and we combine our students together for recitals, halloween parties, pizza parties, pool parties, etc… Continue reading “Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars”


Book Review: Piano Lessons by Noah Adams

Today, I will share with you my brief review of a book called Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures by Noah Adams.  This book is a peek into the author’s life for a year (each chapter is a month) as he experiences buying and learning how to play piano.  The book also contains accounts of interviews he was able to conduct with famous pianists as part of his job as a host of NPR’s All Things Considered.  For most of the book, the author attempts to teach himself piano using a few different methods, and also finds himself at a piano camp called “Autumn Sonata” in Vermont.  By the end of the book, after no small amount of toil, the author successfully learns how to play a rendition of Traumerei for his wife as a Christmas surprise.

This is a wonderful book to read.  Teachers, parents, and students (especially adult students) will find this book interesting and inspirational.  The writing style is light and easy to read, full of colorful descriptive words and light humor.  I enjoyed occasionally reading a chapter before bed over the course of a month or two.


For more ideas of books to read, consult the Reading List page here.


Forum Q&A's, repertoire / methods, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

Q&A Forum | Rhythmic “Simplification” in Arrangements of Familiar Tunes

For last week’s Forum Q&A, I broached a few questions about memorization and many of you left comments regarding whether or not to require memorization for performances within your studio — but not many of you addressed my initial question about whether you consider the skill of memorization is essential to piano playing (i.e., do you think it is necessary/required for concert pianists to play by memory?  Why or why not?).  I discussed this topic further in yesterday’s post, which you can view here.  As always, it’s never too late to add your thoughts to this ongoing discussion.  =)

Today, however, marks the introduction of a new topic for discussion:

Many popular piano methods today include (as they should) arrangements of familiar tunes for students to learn.  This is great, because many students LOVE learning how to play tunes they are familiar with!  (Side note: click here to view a post regarding some thoughts on what makes a great piano method.)  However, these arrangements sometimes present a problem:

Oftentimes in arrangements, the rhythm of the tune is altered and “simplified” in order to accomodate the rhythmic values that the student has/hasn’t learned yet.  This is all fine and dandy, but as a teacher, what do you do when a student comes back the next week playing the rhythm “wrong”?

To give one example that frequently occurs with beginner students, I’ve heard many students return playing the rhythm of “Ode to Joy” with dotted-quarter-eighth rhythms instead of playing all quarter notes (despite the fact that we sightread it together with the rhythm as written).  How do you handle this situation: do you “fix” the student’s rhythm to match what is on the page even though it goes against their intuition, or do you “let it go?”

I’m sure many of us piano teachers have been in this situation before!  Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Rick Harris | CC 2.0

Memorization, Practice, Teaching Piano

Thoughts on Memorization: A Skill Integral to Piano Playing?

Last week was Spring Break from college for me!  My husband and I had a wonderful time visiting our families and spending time with them.  Our days were full doing all kinds of family activities — however, I did manage to keep an eye on my blog, especially the Forum Q&A about memorization that was posted last Tuesday.  Many of you left comments regarding whether or not you require memorized performances within your studio — but not many of you addressed my initial question about whether you consider the skill of memorization is essential to piano playing.  At first look, it appears to be essentially the same question…perhaps I could have phrased this a bit better?  In any case, today I’d like to delve in a little bit deeper into this question about the necessary or not so necessary skill of memorization.

To further clarify exactly what I’ve getting after here, a distinction must be made: There is a difference between memorizing and playing/performing by memory.  I will use these two terms distinctly in this blog post: memorizing refers to the process of memorizing a piece of music during practice with the intent of later playing by memory, while playing/performing by memory refers to actually playing the piece of music from beginning to end without consultation of the score.  This distinction is important because a teacher might, for example, consider memorization to be a necessary skill to develop in his/her students, but might be flexible in actually requiring students to play by memory during performances.

Let’s begin by listing some reasons why pianist might choose to perform by memory or choose not to perform by memory. Continue reading “Thoughts on Memorization: A Skill Integral to Piano Playing?”

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible.”

— Victor de LaPrade

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]