Music Learning Theory

Giveaway Winners and a Webinar Series

Just a quick post today!

First, congrats goes to Angie, Martine, and Gwenn R., the randomly chosen winners of the music mask giveaway! Winners, please check your inbox for an email from me. Thanks goes to everyone for posting your entry comments and sharing about how life is going for you in your neck of the woods during this time! I appreciate hearing from you.

Second, I wanted to let you know about a webinar series you might be interested in. Four of the piano faculty from the Gordon Institute for Music Learning are teaming up to offer a series of six webinars about Music Learning Theory and piano instruction during the week of August 10, 2020. The presenters, Krista Jadro, Janna Olson, Marilyn Lowe, and Jennifer Fisher, are making the webinars available singly and as a discounted bundle. If you aren’t available to watch the webinars as they air live, you’ll have the opportunity to watch replay videos afterwards over the next two months. Click here to check out the rest of the details. I’m excitedly looking forward to watching this webinar series.

I hope you’re all having a great week!


Reminder: Enter the Giveaway!

I just want to say thank you to those of you who have entered the giveaway so far for a chance to win a music mask sewn by my sister, Heather of HeatherMade Designs. It’s been so interesting to hear from so many of you about how you’re doing during these COVID-19 times! Click here to read the comments.

If you haven’t yet entered the giveaway, don’t delay! The giveaway closes Sunday, July 19 at midnight (Eastern time). To enter, go to this blog post and leave a comment sharing with us a bit about what life is currently like in your corner of the world during these Covid times. For example: share with us a story or tip about online teaching. Or, tell us something interesting about how you are doing and what you’re up to while living in quarantine.

The three winners will be chosen on Monday, July 20 and notified by email.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

– Maria Montessori

I’ve been reading recently about Maria Montessori and Montessori philosophy, and am fascinated by it! She must have been quite a person, being the first female physician in Italy and founder of “Casa dei bambini” (“Children’s House”) for underprivileged children aged 3-7 in Rome in 1907. Her work has since inspired educators and school founders for decades.

Maria Montessori’s ideas resonate well with what others have to say about learning, which has been so cool to discover! Here’s a great Montessori quote that reminds us that learning is not about listening to words. Learning comes about through EXPERIENCES created in a thoughtful environment.

What are some ways YOUR students learn not through words but through experiences in their learning environment?


GIVEAWAY: Music Note Face Masks

Hi there!

How are you all? I’ve been quiet here on the blog, but keeping myself busy as usual! Baby Aria keeps me busy, and I also have a couple of projects coming down the pipeline that you’ll hear about sooner or later. 🙂

I’m still teaching my piano lessons online during these Covid times and practicing physical distancing as appropriate. Here in Michigan, our quarantine measures have loosened somewhat compared to be before, but there are guidelines still in place to keep us safe. I know the specific guidelines vary greatly state-by-state and country-by-country according to the current risk in each area. I hope we can agree it’s important to be smart and cautious during these times.

I’d really love to hear from you all about how you are faring and what life during Covid-19 is like currently in your neck of the woods. You’ll have a chance to do so — more on that in just a moment!

But first, let me back up and introduce you to my sister, Heather. We are teaming up to offer you a giveaway.

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Just Added: Two New Digital Game/Worksheet sets

As promised, here are two brand game/worksheet sets. I created them with groups in mind, but these would also work well in one-on-one settings.

I’m releasing these worksheets in two formats: (1) a black-and-white, print-friendly version and (2) a version with the colored background. The colored version is perfect for having students complete it digitally on the iPad in an annotation app such as GoodNotes, OR to screen share in Zoom during online lessons. Check out this post for more about screen sharing and the GoodNotes app.

What Do YOU Hear? – Rhythm Patterns game set

This set contains two pages: rhythm patterns in duple meter and rhythm patterns in triple meter. The teacher chants a rhythm pattern as students listen. Students echo it back and then identify which rhythm pattern they heard from the sheet.

If you have a group of students in a Zoom call, you can ask them to each choose a different “stamp” from the stamp tool (stars, hearts, checkmark, etc.) so they can visually mark which rhythm pattern they heard. Or, it also works to ask them to use hand signs (for example, if they heard rhythm pattern C, they will make a “C” shape with their hands).

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5 Reasons Why I Still Love the GoodNotes App

This post is an update to a 2013 blog post where I shared a review of the GoodNotes app and how I use it in my teaching. Back then, I tested over a dozen apps to figure out which one I felt worked best for annotating PDF worksheets and taking notes. GoodNotes ($7.99) was the app that turned out to be my favorite.

Fast forward to the present, and guess what: I’m still a GoodNotes fan. I have it loaded on my iPhone, iPad, AND my MacBook. It works with my Apple Pencil, and I use it for all sorts of purposes: taking notes during conferences, hashing out or capturing ideas, composing, as well as storing teaching resources.

In this post, we’ll discuss 5 reasons I am still loving the GoodNotes app. Read on! You won’t want to miss the final reason, especially if you’re doing some online teaching these days (due to Covid-19).

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Studio Business, Technology

4 Tips For Using Gmail for Studio Emails

Do you use Gmail for email? Today, I’m sharing a few tips that might prove useful for your studio emails. We’ll talk about how to maintain email lists, use BCC, add an email signature (or two!), and create a simple-but-awesome template for your studio emails. Let’s streamline our emails and make our studio communication look great!

Some of these tips might still apply even if you don’t use Gmail, but you’ll have to search out the how-to instructions yourself. A quick Google search will hopefully help you out.

Without further ado…here’s my four tips for using Gmail for your studio emails!

1. Maintain a Student Email List in Google Contacts

In your Google Contacts, you can maintain a email list for your current students, which makes it easy to quickly send out announcements or reminders.

How to set this up? Visit and click on “Create label.” Call it “Piano Students – Active” and then, if you like, make another for “Piano Students – Inactive.” Then, start adding your students’ email addresses to the list.

When students begin or stop lessons, be sure to return to to update your lists to keep things current.

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This Thursday: Webinar Appearance about Games for Online Teaching

Hi there!

Just wanted to let you know that I will be making an appearance as part of a upcoming panel for the Frances Clark Center’s “Teaching in the Time of Covid-19” webinar series. You might like to consider watching this free webinar!

The topic is Games for Online Teaching, and the panel includes Nicola Cantan, Amy Chaplin, Christina Whitlock, Melissa Willis, and myself. In this webinar, we’ll be covering a variety of ways you can use games and activities in your online lessons. You won’t want to miss it!

The webinar will take place Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 11am EDT. Be sure to mark your calendar. Click here to register for the webinar or to afterwards watch the replay video!

P.S.: Are you involved in the programming for your local music teachers association chapter? Are you looking for speakers? I’d be honored if you’d consider my sessions. I can travel to deliver them in person or present online via Zoom. Check out my presentation topics here.

Studio Business

Studio Communication: Printouts, Newsletters, Emails, Oh my!

Let’s talk studio communication! In this blog post, I’ll share about how my studio communication has evolved over time since I began teaching and some examples of studio communication I’ve sent to my students. At the end of the post, please consider sharing with us about your own studio communication. I hope you’ll pick up some fresh ideas or inspiration!

1. Hardcopy Newsletters

Do you remember the days of hardcopy studio newsletters? 🙂 I bet many of us have gone digital nowadays. But there’s certainly a time and place for hardcopies.

When I first started teaching piano back in the 2000s, my newsletters and notes to parents were all hardcopy printouts. My newsletter was published monthly. I spent a decent amount of time creating them, but I enjoyed it.

Below is an example newsletter I made for my students back in 2011. Click the images to enlarge.

I switched from hardcopy newsletters to email around 2012. But, I do still find it useful to send home hardcopies of certain things. Perhaps you agree!

For example, I like to send home hardcopy flyers about certain local event opportunities for students. Another example is for important communication — such as when I informed students of my planned move from Ohio to Michigan. In these cases, I use both email and hardcopy.

2. Email Marketing Services

When I decided to make the switch to email newsletters, I researched the popular email marketing platforms and ended up choosing MailChimp. I liked their user interface and the attractive email templates. The plans are reasonable; in fact, many piano teachers will be able to get by just fine using the free plan.

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My Students’ 2020 Virtual Piano Recital: How-To Steps and How it Turned Out

My student recital this year was canceled, as I’m sure is the case for many of you due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In place of our in-person event, my students and I moved forward with “Plan B” — organizing a “virtual recital”. I went about this process similar to the way my friend Jonathan Roberts did, as discussed in this recent Teacher Feature post.

I pretty pleased with how it turned out, and I’d actually like to use this recital format again sometime in the future! In this long-form blog post, I’ll share specific steps for how I went about organizing and publishing my studio’s virtual recital, and what I learned along the way.

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