Celebrating Ten Years!

Today, February 28, 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of Color In My Piano! It’s hard to believe it’s been TEN years!

What does ten years of blogging look like? And how did my blog get its name, anyway? Well, let me tell you the story! I’ll try to keep it brief — but we’re covering ten years of history here. 🙂

The Beginning

10 years ago today, on February 28, 2009, I wrote my first blog post: a welcome and brief statement of purpose. I found my inspiration largely from Natalie Wickham’s Music Matters Blog and Susan Paradis’s Piano Teacher Resources, whose resources I found tremendously helpful and inspiring for my piano teaching. At this point, I was running a successful piano studio of about 20 students out of my parents’ home, and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Hope College. I graduated in May of 2009.

On July 9, 2009, I decided that I was enjoying blogging enough to go full swing: I came up with the title “Color In My Piano,” bought my own domain name and a year’s worth of web hosting, and gave the site a new look.

The name “Color In My Piano” was coined when, during my senior year at Hope College, I was required to write an essay which reflected upon my life so far and summed up my worldview. Not surprisingly, much of paper focused on my beliefs about music and the role of the piano/teaching in my life. 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.

Over that summer, my husband and I moved to central Michigan to attend graduate school. In August of 2009, I started a Master’s degree program in Piano Pedagogy and Performance at Central Michigan University. My responsibilities as a Graduate Assistant kept me busy (accompanying fellow music majors and teaching Class Piano courses), but I made it a priority to teach between 5-10 private students each week. Teaching has always my primary motivation! I kept the blog going during these years, too.

Going “Pro”

After graduating in May of 2011, my husband and I moved to Northwest Ohio (so he could begin another Master’s program in English), where I started my studio again from scratch. We rented a charming little house with a dining room that worked perfectly for my studio and I bought a piano. Sometimes, I missed being in the academic environment of college, but most of the time I was and am thrilled to be “living the dream” and running my own piano studio!

Here’s how my blog looked back in 2011!

Because it took a couple of years to build up my student roster, I found I had plenty of time for blogging. I continued sharing ideas and free printables each week. Color In My Piano grew a lot during these years. I even added a shop to sell digital resources, such as my new-at-the-time music history lapbooking curriculum.

The new shop!

My studio eventually grew to 35 students, which I considered “full”! My husband finished his Master’s degree and was hired as the Public Relations & Communications Coordinator at a science museum for kids in Toledo, Ohio.

Gradually, I started giving workshops for local music teachers associations. I never expected to pursue public speaking, but I discovered that giving workshops is an incredibly fun way to share ideas and research with others. (Check out my session topics here.)

Speaking at the 2014 Ohio Music Teachers Association conference.

In 2014, I started a new endeavor: offering online courses for piano teachers through Piano Teacher Institute with Joy Morin. Creating the curriculum for my flagship piano pedagogy course, “Excellence in Piano Teaching”, was a huge investment of time and energy. My goal was to combine the best of what I learned during my pedagogy classes in college, while also including many practical aspects of piano teaching typically not covered. It is so rewarding to interact with and mentor other piano teachers in this way. To date, my six-week course has been offered 10 times, to nearly 100 teachers total.

Here’s how my blog looked back in 2015.

The More Recent Years

In August of 2017, I hosted a Piano Teacher Retreat at my home. 13 teachers came — I was so thrilled! The theme we explored was “piano method books”. The following summer, I held another retreat around the theme “piano technique for beginners”. (And yes, plans are underway for a third retreat this summer!)

2017 retreat attendees

I love attending conferences, and am still as active as ever in the wonderful local music teachers associations in my area. After holding various board positions for local chapters in the past, I served consecutive terms as Vice President for Membership and Vice President of Affiliated Associations for the Ohio Music Teachers Association (affiliated with MTNA). Currently, I am serving on the conference planning committee for the 2019 OhioMTA state conference and as co-president of the Toledo Piano Teachers Association. What can I say — I like getting involved and doing things with other teachers!

My husband now works as a Marketing Strategist for the Office of University Development at University of Michigan. Although his commute now involves driving 50 minutes to Ann Arbor, Michigan, he is enjoying his work at U of M. Life is good, and we have much to be thankful for!

Today, I am still as dedicated as ever to Color In My Piano, although now I’m lucky to publish two or three posts each week instead of five posts per week I was able to do in the past. I am never at a shortage of ideas to write about; I just find time to be a precious commodity, as we all do.

A Few Musings

I hope this blog post doesn’t read like a laundry list of accomplishments. I’ve shared here about many wonderful things I feel quite grateful for. But in case you’re wondering, let me assure you I have also experienced failed experiments, incomplete projects, and difficult life challenges. 🙂

I started Color In My Piano back in 2009 as a way to journal my piano teaching adventures. I wrote mostly for myself, to clarify my thoughts and document things I was learning and doing. While that is still true today, I find that, ten years later, my blog has also become a platform for helping other piano teachers like me teach effectively, organize their businesses, and have fun in the process. I never could have imagined the outgrowth of projects and opportunities that resulted, thanks to writing a blog and gaining readers such as you.

I’ve been teaching piano for 13 years now. When I reflect back upon these years, I recognize how my teaching has certainly changed and evolved over time. I’ve learned things through plain old experience, and through being stretched by the needs and challenges of my students. I’ve experimented with different piano method books and learned something from each approach. I can see the influence of workshops I’ve attended, books I’ve read, podcasts, Facebook group threads, and conversations with fellow teachers. It’s fun to work towards the goal of becoming an ever-better piano teacher! I’m excited considering the possibilities for improvement in the future.

If you know me personally, you know that I am definitely a geek when it comes to piano pedagogy. (Can you ever have too much of a good thing??) But seriously, I do have a few other hobbies besides thinking about piano teaching. 😉 I play racquetball three days a week. I enjoy being outdoors. My favorite chore is mowing the lawn. Other facts about me: I have two cats. I seem to always be cold. I was homeschooled for five years when I was growing up. I’m happiest when my house is tidy. I tend to be reading ten books at the same time.

Anyway, so there’s a little about me and my blog. Thanks for reading all this, and for your support, dear readers. I am deeply grateful for the things I’ve learned over the past ten years of blogging and for the wonderful interactions and friendships that have resulted.

Here’s to a wonderful ten years, and to many more to come.


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7 thoughts on “Celebrating Ten Years!”

  1. Congratulations on ten years! Your blog has inspired me and many others. I hope you have many more wonderful years in teaching and blogging!

  2. Joy, I’ve enjoyed being inspired by your blog for the past 10 years! I can’t believe it has been that long since I started my blog as well. The sticker staff music paper is something I come back to often from your blog and I’ve also enjoyed your music camp ideas and other teaching tips. It’s nice to hear a bit more about your personal journey as a pianist and teacher as well. Thanks for being an inspiration to me!

    1. 10 year congrats to you as well then, Heidi! Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long!! Thanks for letting me know what you’ve enjoyed most from my blog, and I’m humbled to have been an inspiration to you. I’ve enjoyed following your work on your blog over the years as well!

  3. Joy,
    Congratulations on 10 years! I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan so we have somethings in common. I graduated from Calvin College many years ago. I am a piano teacher but also a school music teacher. I live in Newport News, Virginia. I love your lap books. Music history is a part of the music curriculum in my school. This year I’m going to challenge the 5th and 6th graders to build their own lap books. They will be studying the Baroque and Classical periods.

    1. Thanks for your note, Jane! Yes, we do have some things in common, having grown up around West Michigan. I attended Hope College — Calvin’s rival, although I never did follow their sports teams! I’m glad you enjoy my composer lapbooks. And what a great idea to have your students construct their own lapbooks. That’s even more valuable than assembling a pre-designed one!

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