Announcements

News: Studio License Update, and MTNA’s 2020 Virtual Conference

Studio License Wording Update

Hello readers! I’ve had a few teachers ask me about the terms of the Studio License for items in my shop (my composer lapbooks, for example), now that we’re all teaching online. When I originally wrote the terms of use, I can’t say I had online teaching on my radar yet! 🙂 So, I’ve recently adjusted the wording. In case more of you are wondering about this issue, I’ve pasted the new terms below. These licensing details can be referenced anytime on the Terms of Use page here on my website.

STUDIO LICENSE
Permission is granted for the purchasing teacher to make unlimited printouts and use the digital files for the purpose of teaching their own students. Sharing printouts or the digital files beyond that purpose is not permitted. The purchaser is not permitted to resell the item(s), or alter, modify, or create derivative works.

Basically, I want you to be able to freely use your purchased files with your students, but I also appreciate that you don’t aid others in avoiding purchasing the items for themselves. (For example, don’t email out the files to all your fellow teachers!) 😉


MTNA’s 2020 Virtual Conference

In other news… Did you know that MTNA’s 2020 National Conference went virtual this year, and that they’ve made all the sessions available to ANY music teacher worldwide? Check out the MTNA Virtual Conference here! So far, I’ve watched a handful of the sessions and am planning to gradually make my way through them all.

It certainly was disappointing for MTNA to have to cancel their plans to hold the national conference in Chicago last month, but how generous of them to pivot and move everything online. As usual, I’m proud to be an MTNA member!

Composition

Just Released: Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano, Set #2!

I’m pleased today to announce the release of a sequel — Set #2 of Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano! Below, I’ll tell you more about it and share a free sample page for you to try out with your students.


It was early on in my teaching career when I began helping my students compose their own pieces. It was fun, and I could see how my students were benefitting from experiencing the compositional process.

Still today, I enjoy being able to help students compose on demand throughout the year. I also love offering composition camps during the summer — it’s my favorite camp theme! (Some years we use this curriculum, and other years not).

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Sometimes, students have a hard time getting started with a composition project. There are two main challenges I’ve observed in students:

Continue reading “Just Released: Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano, Set #2!”
Sheet Music

Just Released: “Grace”, a Late-Intermediate Solo

Today, I’m pleased to share with you a piece of music called Grace that I composed some years ago, as an undergraduate student.

My first two years of college studies were spent as a piano performance major at Grand Rapids Community College, near my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have such good memories of my time there. It was a time of great growth for me, both personally and as a musician. I was meeting and making friends with people wonderfully different from those in the “bubble” I had grown up in up to that point. I adored my piano professor. And I felt like my musical senses were becoming more alive every day, thanks to the Aural Comprehension and Music Theory classes I was taking. I was experiencing immersion in a vibrant, diverse, and musical environment.

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Teaching Piano

Simple Upgrades for Your Teaching Setup During Covid-19

How are you doing, fellow teachers? How are you finding your physical and emotional well-being during this Covid-19 pandemic? And how is your teaching going? Remote teaching certainly carries its joys and challenges, does it not?

This is intended as a followup to my previous article, Teaching Piano During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Many of us now have a few weeks’ worth of remote lessons under our belts. Hopefully, you are feeling fairly comfortable with your teaching setup (Are you keeping it simple, as I suggested in my article?), and perhaps you might even be feeling ready to make a few incremental improvements to your arrangement! It’s not looking like we will be back to in-person teaching very soon, so why not experiment a little, right? 🙂

And, of course, let’s make sure we are taking care of ourselves. There are small tweaks we can make to ensure our comfort and well-being during long stretches of teaching.

As before in my previous article, I am again not necessarily recommending purchasing expensive new equipment at this time. Instead, I’d like to share some ideas for simple, easy ways to upgrade your setup using mostly items you probably already have around the house.

The suggestions in this article range from the simple to the more involved, and they are addressed in that order. Don’t try them all, and certainly not all at once. Instead, select an idea here and there, and see where that takes you.

Please join me in taking care of ourselves first, so that we can then take care of our families and students well!

1. Sit Comfortably

Are you sitting on a backless piano bench while you teach over the internet? Why not swap it out for a more comfortable chair?

[My cat, Kira, demonstrates how comfortable a computer chair can be at the piano when you’re teaching.]

Using a chair with back support will help prevent soreness. If you use a computer chair, you’ll have the benefit of being able to swivel between the piano keyboard and your nearby resources — saving your neck!

2. Prevent Vocal Fatigue

Are you finding yourself talking louder than usual when teaching via the internet, and suffering from a sore throat by the end of the day? Here’s a few suggestions to help alleviate this issue.

Continue reading “Simple Upgrades for Your Teaching Setup During Covid-19”
Teaching Piano

Just Added: BINGO Sheet for Piano Students

As I was perusing Instagram recently, I saw a BINGO sheet a piano teacher had created for her students. I thought it was particularly well done; the activities she came up with were so great! I was inspired to create my own version for my students, so I reached out to her to ask if she minded if I used many of the same activities. She generously responded “yes”! (Thank you, Lynnette!)

So, today I’m sharing with you my own take on a BINGO sheet for piano students. I think this printable is perfect for use with piano students anytime, but especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The activities on the sheet encourage students to complete activities on their own that are creative, fun, and often involve a family member/friend. Here are a few examples:

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Sheet Music

Just Released: “Simplicité”, a Mid-Intermediate Solo

Today, I’m pleased to share with you a composition I wrote a couple of years ago called Simplicite.

I’d been long intending to finish notating Simplicite and create a video recording for the piece. I’m never at a lack of exciting projects to work on, but now in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic I found myself looking for a specific kind of thing to focus my energy on. I felt somewhat at a loss until I pulled out this project. It’s been a good project in the practical sense because it’s something I can easily start and stop, working in tandem with my baby daughter’s napping schedule. But more importantly, working on Simplicité has felt…comforting, somehow. This is a testament to the power of music, perhaps!

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Performances

TEACHER FEATURE: Jonathan Roberts on Virtual Recitals for Students

This post is a follow-up, of sorts, to my post last week about how to get started teaching remote piano lessons. As we navigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we face opportunities to not only adapt our teaching, but also our recital organizing!

Today, I bring you a bit of inspiration for how YOU could consider offering a recital opportunity to your students during these unprecedented times. My friend, Jonathan Roberts (organizer of the South Shore Piano Camp for which I’ve instructed the past two summers), recently organized a “virtual recital” featuring videos made by his students and then posted to YouTube. I have been considering doing something similar next month with my students. Seeing how Jon’s virtual recital turned out earlier this week has made me more inspired and motivated to take on this project!

Before you read on, check out Jon’s playlist here. I hope you enjoy Jon’s sense of humor in his opening/closing remarks video, as well as seeing his students play their prepared pieces in their own home environments.

Upon being asked, Jon was kind enough to agree to being interviewed about how he went about organizing and publishing his virtual recital. So, now that you’ve seen for yourself how it turned out, let’s have a conversation with Jon to learn more about this project!


Hi, Jon! Could you tell us a little bit about your studio and your students’ recent virtual recital?

Hi, Joy! Thank you so much for having me.

This past September, I expanded my home studio into a multi-teacher organization, the South Shore Piano School, in Quincy, MA (just south of Boston). We have doubled in size since then, with an enrollment of about 70 students right now, ranging in age from 4 to 67. In addition to weekly lessons, we run monthly student recitals and regular community “field trips” to hear world-class pianists, both solo and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Our first-ever virtual recital was a project I put together shortly after school classes, after-school activities, and most public gatherings were suspended, seemingly overnight. On about 24 hours notice, we had to move over to online lessons pretty quickly, and we were actually supposed to have an in-person recital on Sunday, March 22nd.

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Teaching Piano

Teaching Piano During the COVID-19 Pandemic

At the time of this publishing, the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the U.S., the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending no gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, so most events are being canceled. Many of us (depending on which state you live) are experiencing canceled school classes, university classes, and work. The local grocery stores keep running out of basic staples, because everyone is stocking up. The pandemic’s effect is deep and wide, and our response is important. The recommendations call for us to regularly wash our hands and practice “social distancing” to avoid possible spread or exposure to the virus. The goal is to slow the spread of the outbreak (i.e., “flatten the curve“) to avoid overwhelming the medical facilities in this country for the sake of those of us who will require medical care when the virus is contracted. This is a time for us to pull together and be community-minded.

What does this mean for our piano teaching? For me, as it so happens, I’ve been on maternity leave from teaching for the past six weeks. My student base is currently comprised of a handful (due to having recently relocated here) of students in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a day’s worth of students back in Northwest Ohio — an hour’s drive commute to the studio where I rent a room. I had planned to resume lessons soon, but due to the pandemic situation I’ve put all in-person lessons on hold.

Instead, I’ve reached out to my students and suggested that we continue lessons via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom. School may be canceled, but there’s no reason piano can’t continue! Perhaps for us and our students, continuing piano practice and lessons with us all feel a small bit of stability and normalcy during these intense times. And certainly, for many piano teachers there is a natural concern about finding a way to maintain a level of income during these difficult times.

And so, many of us are moving our piano lessons online. In this blog post, I’d like to share some tips and advice for doing so — things I’ve learned from experience teaching online lessons occasionally over the past few years. Also, read this article about helping you find the best piano vst on the market for you to master the art.

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Reviews

Review: Irina Gorin’s Online Course – Teach “Tales of a Musical Journey”

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile now, you know that a method book I frequently use in my piano teaching is Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey. I became a fan of Irina’s work first through subscribing to her YouTube channel, which contains hundreds of teaching videos. Then, in 2015, I attended her first-ever summer workshop for teachers. (If you’d like to read my full review of Irina’s Tales of a Musical Journey method, click here.)

Irina and I, at her home studio in Carmel, Indiana.

As Irina’s method books have continued to grow in popularity, she began touring internationally to give workshops about her method. Currently, she lives in Asia and is a faculty member at Chengdu College of Chinese and ASEAN Arts.

Today, I’m writing a review of Irina’s online course for piano teachers. If you’ve heard about her course and wondered what it was like, this review is for you. Read on!

Irina Gorin’s Online Course for Piano Teachers

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Announcements

11th Blogiversary — Thank You!

Hello, friends! I have two things to share with you.

First of all…

I want to say THANK YOU for the many congrats and well-wishes I received from you upon the announcement of our new baby girl, Aria. My husband and I have been waiting a long time for our precious bundle. We feel so blessed to have her in our lives — as well as such a supportive community of friends and family. It was so nice to receive so many kind comments and personal emails from you!

A few of you were curious about what I am doing / plan to do music-wise with Aria. I’ll answer this question in a future post. (Probably Monday.) Stay tuned!

In other news…

Today, February 28, 2020, is a momentous day: it’s my blog’s ELEVENTH blogiversary! How shall we celebrate?!

For starters, I’d like to continue our annual tradition of offering a promo code for 20% off everything in my digital shop. The sale is live today through March 31, 2020. Be sure to enter the promo code 11YEARS to receive the discount.

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that I rarely hold sales. So, if you’ve been eyeing my favorite Ice Cream Intervals game, my rhythm cards, or are thinking ahead to music camp curriculums for this summer, now’s a great time to buy! Browse the shop now by clicking here.

Thanks for celebrating our eleven years, friends! I’m so looking forward to the next year together.