Freebie: Piano Finger Bling worksheets

Today, I have a couple of fun freebies for you.  :)

First, here is a printable worksheet for beginner piano students.  Their task is to label each hand as RH or LH and then label the finger with the ring as #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.  My beginners love completing this quick worksheet!

Piano Finger Bling worksheet.png

As I was making this worksheet, it occurred to me that it would be fun to get a plastic diamond ring to use when quizzing students on their finger numbers.  Fun little props can add a lot of fun to drills.  :)

Then, I decided to make a digital version of this worksheet to use on my iPad with the GoodNotes app.  Students can draw on each page in order to label the hand and finger.  It’s a quick little activity that can be completed during the lesson.

Piano Finger Bling preview iPad

To download the printable worksheet, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to “Piano Finger Bling worksheet.”

  Piano Finger Bling worksheet (204.0 KiB, 12,055 hits)

To download the digital PDF worksheet, visit the Printables > For iPad page and look for “Piano Finger Bling.”

  Piano Finger Bling (794.3 KiB, 3,538 hits)


Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“The most valuable result of all education is to make you do the thing that you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”

— Thomas Huxley

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 me a message here.


Book Review: Twelve Magical Musical Masters

7_0240c“Twelve Magical Musical Masters” is a book containing the stories of twelve well-known classical composers.  Each page features an illustration and a short bio that encourages the reader to press a button to hear the accompanying music.

I received a copy of this book for review and am happy to add it to my bookshelf in my living room/waiting room area for students to peruse.

The twelve composers included are:


Database of Pieces in Classical Anthologies for Piano

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 1.01.48 PMI recently found out about a great resource by Bobbie Rastall, a piano teacher from Maryland.  Bobbie has an online database that allows teachers to search for a title or composer and see a list of which classical anthologies for students contain that piece of music.  What a great resource!

I have already put this database to good use.  I am planning to enter a couple of students in MDP/RCM exams again this year and I found it very helpful to be able to enter pieces from the list into this database to see a list of which books contain the pieces I was looking for.

Read more about Bobbie’s database here.

Reviews, Technology

App Review: NotateMe

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 1.07.21 PMNotateMe (this public beta release is currently half off: $13.99) — for iPad/iPhone (also available for Android).

NotateMe is a music notation app that allows users to enter music by finger or using a stylus.  As the notes are drawn, the app interprets your handwriting and creates printed notation.  This technology is impressive!

Here is a screenshot taken from the app store:

screen480x480 Continue reading “App Review: NotateMe”

Composition, Teaching Piano

Now Available: Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano eBook

Last week, I wrote a blog post here describing how I help my students compose their own pieces.  Today, I am officially announcing the release of a new e-book resource called: Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano!

Prompts for Piano - ebook cover 950x629

Continue reading “Now Available: Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano eBook”


Giveaway Results: Registration Winner

Make Your Students ShineJust a quick post to announce the randomly selected winner of the giveaway for FREE registration for the 2014 conference!

The winner is comment #29: Vaida!  Please watch your email inbox for an email from Michelle from Keys To Imagination.

The rest of you — please remember that you can still register for the conference. :)  In fact, you may want to take advantage of the early registration discount. The online conference is taking place February 5-8, 2014.   Register now through October 31, 2013 for just $79.  It will be $99 after October 31, 2013.

Check out all the details at


Composing in the Piano Lesson with Beginner & Elementary Students

Mack T - The DinosaurFor the past six months, I have been working on a new resource to help piano teachers compose and improvise with their students.  I am going to give you the full scoop on the new resource soon, but I wanted to introduce the resource with this article discussing how composition can be used in the private piano lesson.  Update: the new “Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano” eBook is now available here in the Shop!  

There are many challenges to having piano students compose.  For example, teachers might feel that:

  • I don’t have time in the lesson to teach composition.
  • I don’t know how to teach composition.
  • I don’t know how to give a composition assignment.
  • My students don’t understand how to compose a good melody.
  • My students are overwhelmed at the idea of composing their own music.

Despite these challenges (yes, I feel them too), I have enjoyed having my students compose their own pieces for many years now.  Here is how I incorporate composition in my lessons: Continue reading “Composing in the Piano Lesson with Beginner & Elementary Students”

Professional Development

Music Advocacy and the Independent Music Teacher

6687987361_ea4f077ae3Classroom music educators are taught and encouraged to be music advocates, especially when music programs are in danger of being cut due to budget restraints.  Regardless of your stance on the inclusion of music education in public schools, Independent Music Teachers are certainly advocates of music in general, and perhaps also for the rest of the arts.

On nearly a daily basis, I see articles coming through my facebook feed or Pinterest feed about how “music makes you smarter.”  And I have often seen “Why Study Music?” lists on piano studio websites, listing research articles that suggest that music study can improve your cognitive and social skills.

Why do piano teachers tout these articles before parents, suggesting that these are the reasons children should take piano lessons?

Let’s get real.  Is that why YOU took piano lessons as a child?  Because you wanted to get smarter?  Is this why YOU teach piano lessons?  To make children smarter?

Even if it may be true that studying music makes you “smarter,” it is not a very good reason to take lessons or encourage others to take lessons.  If we are really in search of the activity that will make us or our children the smarter, then someone should do a research study to discover which activities are the best for brain development.  And guess what — music might not win.  Who knows — maybe chess or tennis is better for your brain.  Or yoga or karate or computer programming.

The problem here is that we are confusing the VALUE of music with the SIDE BENEFITS of music study.

Yes, music study can impart important life skills such as creativity, concentration, dedication, diligence, and perseverance.  But this is not why I love music.  And this is certainly not why I am a piano teacher. Continue reading “Music Advocacy and the Independent Music Teacher”