Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“He who writes and composes without feeling spoils both his words and his music.”

— Guillaume de Machaut

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]colorinmypiano.com.

Printables, Studio Business

Just Added: Studio Planning Calendar

Just added to the Printables > Studio Business page:

Studio Planning Calendar

I needed some kind of calendar to keep track of both short-term and long-term studio-related projects…and came up with this!  Each month has space for 8 dates or “to-do” items.  The check boxes are so you can “check off” those to-do items with the utmost satisfaction.  :)

Here are some of the things I’m keeping track of using this calendar:

  • Piano tunings
  • Studio Recital(s) planning
  • Create monthly newsletter
  • Advertising
  • Summer camp planning
  • etc.
You are welcome to download and use this pdf in your own studio, as always!  I’ve left room at the top of the page for you to print your own logo across the top if desired — just send it through the printer a second time.
improving as a teacher, Performances, Professional Development

Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader asking advice regarding planning a studio recital for the first time.  For the sake of others who might be in the same situation, I decided to create a whole post about this topic — read on.

Q: How do I decide what kind of music to have students play? 

I would suggest buying separate sheet music rather than the usual pieces in their method books.  There’s something special about having a separate sheet music for the recital.  I even like to write on the sheet music something like: “Johnny’s 1st Recital – May 1, 2011.”  It is an extra expense for students which I personally feel is worth it.  Continue reading “Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital”

Forum Q&A's, Technology

Forum Q&A | Favorite Piece of Technology

It’s time for a new Forum Q&A!  We haven’t had one for awhile, due to the overtake of the conference posts.  :)

Last time, we discussed the possibility of offering lessons online via a service such as Skype!  A number of you weighed in your thoughts and opinions — click here to view the comments.  I’m more intrigued than ever with the idea, and am currently experimenting with it with a few individuals.

Today, though, I have a new question!

What is your #1 favorite piece of technology you use in your studio?  It can be anything from a video camera, iPad, computer, digital piano, audio recorder, etc., etc., etc.  

I’ve put mine in the comments already.  I think it will be fun to hear everybody weigh in their thoughts!

Photo Credit: DigaoSPBR | CC 2.0

Composition, Technology

Hear my New Piano!

I promised over a month ago that I would post a video so you could hear my new piano!  I wanted to wait until after I got it tuned, of course, and recently I finally got around to recording something.

In this YouTube video, I’m playing a short piece I composed during undergrad called “Contemplation.”


This is a piece I composed in 2007 during my senior year at Hope College. It was written for an assignment for a Form & Analysis theory course for which we were supposed to compose a piece using the Schenkarian techniques we were studying in class. The structure of this piece is based on a descending line using scale degrees 3-2-1. This descending line is also used on a more micro level as a motive throughout the piece.

In the next video, I am playing a piece that my six-year-old student back in Central Michigan composed before I moved away.  He composed a melody called “Goodbye,” and wanted me to compose the left hand part for it.  I was so touched by his request!   Continue reading “Hear my New Piano!”

Printables, Studio Business

3 New Printables and 5 Others Updated!

To prepare for the new teaching year, I’ve been updating a plethera of my studio documents!  I finally have them all updated here online too on the Printables > Studio Business page.  If you are interested in using any of them, feel free.

The ones that are Microsoft Word documents can easily be edited to your personal needs.  On the pdf documents, I’ve left room on the top for you to print your own student name or logo if desired (just print it twice – once as is, and then run the sheet through the printer again this time adding your own personal touch).  Enjoy!

  • New! Record of Payments Due / Received – I use this to record checks and cash when I receive them from students/parents.  You can also use it to mark down books/sheet music that you purchase for students, so you can keep track of what has and hasn’t been paid for yet.
  • New! Student Scheduling Preferences – This 2-page document includes an empty scheduling table that allows students/parents to fill in their schedule and indicated their top 5 choices for lesson times, and to X out any times that will not work.  The first page is for the school year schedule and the second page is for the summer schedule.  This file is a Microsoft Word (docx) file, so it can be suitably edited to your needs.  There is room at the top of each page for your studio name or logo.
  • New! Studio Policies & Procedures (Sample) – This Microsoft Word (docx) file is a editable sample Studio Policies & Procedures.  If you are making your studio policies for the first time or are looking for ideas for adjusting your current policies, this may help you get started.
  • Updated! Record of Lesson Attendance & Payment – This 3-page document has been updated for the 2011-2012 year.  (see image at right for a preview)
  • Updated! Record of Student Achievements – This printable has been slightly updated in format.
  • Updated! First Lesson: Student Information Form – This printable has been updated to include a section for asking permission to use photos/videos of the student.  It is also now more suitable for using with both children and adult students.
  • Updated! First Lesson: Interview with Beginner Student – This printable has been updated in both format and content to reflect my evolving teaching style.  :)
  • Updated! First Lesson: Interview with Transfer Student – Same as above.

Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio

Hello friends,

Now that the NCKP Conference posts are all up, it’s time to return to regular posts!  Today, we have a new Teacher Feature.  Say hello to Irina!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started piano lessons at the age of 5 at the Children Music School in Kiev, Ukraine. For 9 years I had 2 individual piano lessons a week (45 min. long), and once a week 45 min.classes: music theory/solfeggio, music literature, choir, piano duet, and accompaniment (in senior classes).

At the age of 15 -19 I was studying in Kiev’s music college where I got my Bachelor degree, and the next 5 years at Kharkov Conservatory, where I got my Masters Degree in piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompaniment and Chamber Orchestra.

I started teaching piano students at Music College as a part of the pedagogy course at the age of 16. Since then, teaching is my main job, even though I enjoy accompaniment.

What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?

Seeing the results of teaching, and communicating with students and their families.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio”

Conferences, improving as a teacher, Motivation

NCKP 2011 | (13) Student-Centered Teaching, by Randall Faber

I don’t normally post on Saturdays, but I’m so close to having all my conference notes posted that I decided to finish up today with the last one rather than wait until Monday!  Whew, thanks for bearing with me through the long haul!  Lucky for us, the last one is a good one.  :)

I’ve always wanted to hear Dr. Faber speak since I am a huge fan of the Faber Piano Adventures method, and I’ve heard such good things about their sessions.  At the NCKP, I had the privilege of attending their publisher showcase and this session on student-centered teaching, which provided a lot of insight into the Fabers’ research on human learning and their teaching philosophy in general.  It was fascinating!

Student Centered Teaching: The Process, by Randall Faber.  F @ 11:15am.

Dr. Faber began by talking about the teacher perspective.  He shared a wonderful photo of a child sitting on the piano bench, eager and excited to learn, looking up into the camera (or into the teacher’s eyes).  The next photo was of a stern looking teacher, looking over his reading glasses from his chair alongside the piano.  Everybody laughed when they saw this photo!  This is the student perspective!

Joking aside, though, sometimes we aren’t always doing the job we think.  Sometimes we simply tend to teach the way we were taught because that’s what we know.  Dr. Faber made an argument that in order to be the most effective as teachers, we need to be as student-centered as possible.  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (13) Student-Centered Teaching, by Randall Faber”

Conferences, Technology

NCKP 2011 | (12) PEDxi sessions

If you’ve never heard of the TED talks, please take a moment to check out this link!  According to the “About” page on their website…

“TED is a non-profit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).”

Many of the TED talks are available for free viewing on their website and on YouTube.  The one I linked to above was sent to me by one of my adult students — and it is quite an interesting one that talks about the value of classical music.

The NCKP’s “PEDxi” sessions are inspired by the TED talks.  They are short 25-minute talks that are focused on keyboard pedagogy and technology.

  1. Who Would’ve Thought It Was Possible?  | Lori Frazer gave an inspiring session on how technology has allowed her to bring music and music making to serve the medical and wellness community, including seniors and individuals with special needs.   Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (12) PEDxi sessions”