Celebrating 5 Years!

carlitos_BalloonsFriday marked the five-year anniversary of Color In My Piano!  I meant to write this post on Friday, but I have been preparing tax documents all weekend instead.  I finished gathering all of the paperwork yesterday and am bringing it to our CPA today.

Enough about the unpleasantness of taxes!  Let’s celebrate five years!!

Have you ever wondered why I chose the name “Color In My Piano?”  Here is the story:  The phrase was coined when, during my senior year of undergrad at Hope College, I was required to write a lengthy essay which reflected upon the past experiences of my life and summed up my current worldview.  Not surprisingly, much of paper focused on my beliefs about music and the role of the piano in my life.  I believe music is much more than a series of notes strung together.  It is a powerful force that can influence our emotions, encourage, heal, and energize.  In my life, I strive to keep my music-making and teaching from feeling like merely a job or a requirement.  I strive to keep “color in my piano” for both my students and myself.

In case you are interested, below is a run-down of the history of the Color In My Piano blog over the past five years.   Continue reading “Celebrating 5 Years!”


Sale Reminder

Just a quick reminder:

There are only THREE days left to shop during the February 20% sale, in celebration of the 5-year blogiversary of ColorInMyPiano.

In the shop, you will find PDF’s of Rhythm Cards, the Prompts for Composition e-Book, and the “Great Composers & Their Music” lapbooking curriculum — perfect for group classes or music camps.

You will need to enter the following code during check-out in order to receive the sale price.  This sale won’t be back until next year, so plan accordingly!  Copy the code below and then click here to visit the shop.


The code will expire on February 28, 2014.

Music Camps

About Running Summer Music Camps/Workshops

Are you thinking about holding any camps/workshops during the summer months?  Here are some great reasons to consider holding camps:

  • It allows you to reinforce concepts or cover topics that are difficult to cover during private lessons.  E.g., music history, rhythm, improvisation, composition.
  • It is a great way to build camaraderie among your students.
  • It allows you to have a different/lighter teaching schedule during the summer if you desire.
  • It creates the possibility of increasing your income during the summer months. Continue reading “About Running Summer Music Camps/Workshops”
Announcements, repertoire / methods

Red Leaf Pianoworks

2014 Red Leaf Pianoworks Ohio flyer copyI love the internet.  Without it, I would have far fewer friends and contacts in the piano teacher world, wouldn’t you?

A few months ago, I connected with Canadian piano teacher and composer, Martha Hill Duncan.  She stated that she would be in my area in February during her husband’s sabbatical and so I asked if she would be willing to give a presentation about the music of Red Leaf Pianoworks at my home.  She said yes!

If you aren’t familiar with Red Leaf Pianoworks — It is a group of Canadian composers who collaborate to promote their self-published piano compositions. They have a website here and you may have seen them in the exhibit hall at conferences such as MTNA or NCKP.

Martha talked about the composers behind Red Leaf Pianoworks and demonstrated samples of their music for us.  It was fun to learn a little about each person and get a taste of each person’s unique musical voice.

  • Janet Gieck
  • Rebekah Maxner — (Remember my review of Rebekah’s book, “Madge’s Notebook“?)
  • Martha Hill Duncan
  • Beverly Porter
  • Susan Griesdale
  • Teresa Richert
  • Joanne Bender
  • John Burge

One of the things I noticed as I was listening to the pieces was how teachable the pieces were, while at the same time requiring students to get out of the typical five-finger positions that many American piano methods promote.  I am always on the lookout for supplemental books that get students moving around the keyboard more.

Martha and my colleague try out a piano duet.


We had a lovely morning.  Afterwards, Martha, her husband, and I went out for lunch.

photo (6)

Be sure to check out the Red Leaf Pianoworks website here.

One of the questions I asked Martha was whether the Red Leaf Pianoworks has considered selling individual pieces as a PDF download from their website (and with the license for unlimited studio use — I love that!).  She said they haven’t talked about it much but may consider it for the future.  If this is something you would be interested in, leave a comment below to give Martha some feedback about this!  I’m sure they would appreciate hearing from teachers.

Announcements, repertoire / methods

Field Trip to the Faber Piano Institute

Did you know that the authors of the Piano Adventures method, Nancy and Randall Faber, live in Ann Arbor, Michigan?  Did you know that the Faber Piano Institute in Ann Arbor is only an hour away from where I live?!

My local MTNA chapter, the Wood-Ottawa Counties OhioMTA, organized a field trip for us to visit the Faber Piano Institute last Friday.  We had a fantastic time.  The Fabers and their staff were most welcoming and hospitable.


The Faber Piano Institute is located in a building that previously was a library.  They created smaller rooms for teaching studios in one half of the building.  There are around seven teachers who give lessons at the Faber Piano Institute.  Continue reading “Field Trip to the Faber Piano Institute”


Happy Valentine’s Day!

A few piano teachers have sent me photos of their piano valentines.  It is so fun to see the creative variations that each teacher came up with!

Photo from Leia Sharma:

Piano Valentine - Leia Sharma

Photo from Barrymond.  She says: “I cut and pasted a top flight poster board on a paper to provide a firm base. Then I used black and pink sharpie to make it a bit colorful. I had a lot of fun making it!”

Piano Valentine - Berrymond

Photo from Tracy Capps Selle:

Piano Valentine - Tracy Capps Selle

Photo from Susanne Gavel.  It looks like she printed on both pink and red paper.

Piano Valentine - Susanne Gravel

Photo from Jennifer Lorys.  She gave chocolate to the kids and wine to the adult students!

Piano Valentine - Jennifer Lorys

Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

Games, Studio Business

Organizing Games

One of the questions that arose during the presentation about music games (see the handout here) that I gave last week for the Summit County OMTA chapter and at the 2014 conference was…

How do you organize your games?

You may remember some months back when I blogged about finding this little filing cabinet at a second-hand store.  Here is how I decided to use all those wonderful drawers:


Those drawers contain materials for games that can be played during private lessons with students.  It sits next to me where I teach at the piano.  The six drawers are currently categorized:

  1. Office Supplies — colored pens, Post-It notes, notepads, etc.
  2. Props/Improv [pictured below] — Japanese puzzle erasers, various props for teaching hand shape, Rory’s Story Cubes (thanks goes to a reader who recently sent me the “Action” set from my Amazon wishlist!), and the Flashcards for Composition/Improvisation.
  3. Rhythmrhythm cards, Rhythm Train Game, Rhythmic Value Cards, etc.
  4. Note I.D.musical alphabet word cards, spinners, note-naming flashcards, etc.
  5. Intervals/KeysIce Cream Interval game, keys, key signature flashcards, etc.
  6. Dry Erase Markers — At group classes, we use dry erase markers and mini erasers frequently for our listening sheets.

You’ll notice that these categories align with the concepts listed in the handout.  Games are most effective when we are choosing them in terms of the concepts they teach our students.

Here is the Props/Improv drawer:


In the little black drawstring bag, I have a set of Scrabble tiles containing only the letters of the musical alphabet.  I bought my Scrabble game used at Goodwill.  I use the tiles as another way for students to randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet (we sometimes use a spinner instead).  They work great for The Amazing Keyboard Race, for example.  Students can also sort the tiles onto the piano keys.


In the drawers across the room, I store my floor staff and the games that work only for group classes. 


Please feel free to share in the comments about your organizational system!

P.S.:  The live sessions may be over, but it’s not too late to register for the 2014 conference and have the opportunity to watch the session videos on your own time.  Visit their website for more info.


Games Handout

I recently gave presentations about music games to the Summit County OhioMTA and the conference.  I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in seeing the handout, which I have posted here on my personal website,  The links in the handout all lead directly to the games and printables being discussed. Enjoy!


Building Musicianship Through Games & Activities

by Joy Morin


  • Why use games?
  • When to use games?

*  *  *  *  *

PART I:  Considering the facets and goals of a teacher’s Teaching Philosophy.

The Teaching Philosophy states (1) the teacher’s GOALS for him-/her-self and the students, as well as, (2) HOW the teacher will lead students to achieve those goals.

Comprehensive musicianship involves:

  • Sight-Reading
  • Rhythm
  • Music Theory
  • Music History
  • Playing/Harmonizing by Ear
  • Improvisation/Composition
  • Memorization
  • Effective Practicing

PART II:   Examples of games and activities that will help you accomplish the goals in your Teaching Philosophy.


  1. Musical Alphabet Card Snakes – Students sort their cards in order and say musical alphabet forwards/backwards.  Have students identify which card is missing.


  1. Black Key Sorting Cards – Build the keyboard using these cards.
  2. Find That Piano Key game – Ask student to play 3 different C’s, etc.  Can be played in a Round Robin version with a pair or group of students.  Use spinner or alphabet dice.  Can be done on the keyboard or on a paper keyboard in groups.
  3. Amazing Keyboard Race – You need a game token for each player and a way to randomly choose letters of the musical alphabet (Scrabble tiles, spinner, or dice). Play it at the piano or use a paper keyboard. On your turn, get a random letter and move your token to that key.  Take turns and race to get to the top.
  4. Spell-A-Keyboard game – Works great on the piano, a paper keyboard, or a floor keyboard (chalk outside).  Students spell the words from the cards by marking the corresponding piano keys.  Works great in the lesson or in small group settings.

Read the rest here!

Reviews, Technology

Review: Oontz Angle Bluetooth Speaker

For Christmas, my husband gave me this handy little speaker: the Oontz Angle Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.


In the past, I always plugged a pair of old computer speakers into my iPhone, iPad Mini, or computer when I wanted to play music during lessons, group classes, or while cleaning the house.  :)  They worked okay, but I found that if I turned the sound up too loud, the sound became distorted.

I am so pleased with this handy little speaker because I can turn the sound as loud as I need too without hearing distortion.  I’m very pleased with the quality of the speaker!


And, of course, it is handy that it is wireless.  It connects via a bluetooth connection.  Pairing the speakers to a device only takes a minute.  Plus, it remembers what device you paired it with last and will automatically connect to that same device if both are turned on.  I’ve owned bluetooth devices in the past and they did not connect this easily.  Technology has certainly improved.

It comes with a USB cable so that you can recharge the battery by plugging it into your computer.  The battery can last for up to 10 hours of playing time.

Just thought I’d share about this fun little gadget!  Did you receive any Christmas gifts that have been useful for piano teaching?  If so, please share about it in the comments!