Performances

Highlights from My Students’ Silent Film Recitals

This past weekend concluded a three-weekend run of Silent Film Recitals I hosted for my piano students, and let me tell you — it was such a fun project to organize! I really enjoyed this as an opportunity for my students and myself to try a performance event different from a typical piano recital and learn about the historic art form of silent film accompaniment.

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Performances

Piano Recital Program Template #6

As promised, today I am sharing a NEW free recital program template. I created this recital program for my 2023 student recitals and I’m happy to pass it along as template for use for YOUR student recitals!

Side note: Did you know this is now the SIXTH free recital program template available on my blog? The other five can be found on the Printables > Other Resources page by scrolling down to the Ps for “Piano Recital Program Template.” Of the templates I’ve shared so far, this is the first one that is in a foldable booklet format.

The artwork featured in this recital program template was drawn by yours truly using my iPad and Apple Pencil. I designed the rest of the program in Microsoft Word.

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Performances

My 2023 Piano Studio Recitals

Yes, you read that title correctly! Recitals, plural. 🙂 My piano studio is currently comprised of about half-and-half Michigan and Ohio students — the former being longtime students I began teaching online since relocating to Ann Arbor at the end of 2019. So, I held two Spring Recitals this month — one in my backyard, and one at a park in Ohio (an hour’s drive away for me).

Until last year, I had never held a studio recital outdoors. Now that I’ve done it, I want to keep doing more!

Our Program

I called our recital “Keys in the Breeze.” Most of the piece titles on the program were centered around a nature theme. It’s the first time I’ve attempted a themed recital, so I wanted to choose an easy theme. My students and I discovered that most method books or repertoire collections tend to have at least one piece that fits a nature theme, whether it be a piece related to weather, an animal, a flower, the seasons, or the outdoors.

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Performances

My Piano Students Play the 12 Days of Christmas

As mentioned yesterday, my students collaborated to create a special video as the “grand finale” of our Countdown to the New Year project. Today, I’m sharing the video for you to see.

Please enjoy our take on The 12 Days of Christmas!

I hope you enjoy our fun little video. Credit goes to my student, Elijah, for the idea. Because it was a somewhat last-minute project, and we kept it simple — each student learned only the RH melody for their assigned day. But I think it turned out pretty great regardless!

I’m thinking about doing it again next year. I have some ideas for expanding it a bit.

If you are curious to hear more about the behind-the-scenes planning and video editing, could you let me know? If there’s enough interest, perhaps I’ll write up a blog post or even create a purchasable kit with everything you need!

Thanks for watching!

UPDATE: The 12 Days of Christmas Project: A Collaborative Video Kit has been published and is available for purchase here!

Performances

“Countdown to the New Year” – 2020 Video Project

2021 is here! Happy New Year!!

Over the past few weeks, my students and I have been working on a “Countdown to the New Year” video project. I don’t normally organize a Christmas recital, but some of my students were asking if we were going to do something this year. And so, I came up with a project for us.

Inspired by an Instagram post by Amber Kao, director of the Faber Piano Institute, I decided we would do a virtual recital (YouTube videos) that was spread out day-by-day leading up to the new year. Because we started somewhat last-minute, we chose pieces that were well within reach for students to videorecord in only 3-4 weeks. We kept it simple!

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Performances, Technology, Videos

Tutorial: Combining Videos to Create an “Piano Duet” Video

Back in May, I shared about how I organized a virtual recital for my students. In that post, I briefly mentioned how I combined two videos to create “duet” videos for a couple of my students. Today, I’d like to share how I accomplished this “duet” video magic, so you can try it for yourself if you’d like!

First of all, here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In this video, you’ll see a beginner student playing the rote piece “I Love Coffee” (from the Shaaks and of Piano Safari method fame), accompanied by me playing the teacher duet.

Below, I will share the steps for how to create and combine a student video and a teacher video to create a “piano duet” video. This technique is similar to that used by many YouTube musicians — you’ve probably seen the type. Even if you already know how to do this, I hope perhaps you’ll gain at least a helpful tip or two from this post!

Step 1: Acquire Student Video

The basic process is that one person records their video first, so that the other person can use it as a guide (using earbuds) while recording the second video. The first person’s video determines the tempo throughout the piece, which the second person must follow and match.

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Performances

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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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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Performances

What To Play at Your Students’ Recitals

[Note: This is a follow-up to 5 Reasons to Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals.]

Looking for ideas for pieces to play when performing alongside your students at student recitals? Here’s a few considerations.

  • Don’t think your piece has to be long, overly advanced, or showy/virtuosic. The goal is to share something fun and valuable for your students to hear. Why not play a piece your high schoolers could play someday? Why not refresh a piece you’ve previously learned?
  • Is there classical repertoire you are currently working on, or would love for your students to hear? How about a Beethoven or Haydn Sonata movement, or a Chopin Nocturne or Waltz? Or how about a short piece by Debussy, Muczynski, Gershwin, Tcherepnin, or Bartok?
  • Short on practice time? How about an intermediate or advanced sheet music single by a pedagogical composer, such as Melody Bober, Catherine Rollin, or Robert Vandall?
  • How about something familiar and/or popular? For example, an arrangement of a classic such as “What A Wonderful World” or “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”? Or what about a lovely hymn arrangement? For something flashy and fun, how about a virtuosic transcription by Jarrod Radnich? Did you know Nancy Faber wrote a fun jazz/pop arrangement of “Canon in D”?
  • Do you like to compose? How about playing something you wrote yourself? Students with the same inclinations might find this especially inspiring!
  • Do you have an advanced student or colleague who would enjoy playing a duet with you?
  • What friends do you have who play instruments other than piano? It might be fun to collaborate with another instrumentalist.
  • Idea from a reader: Have students vote from a shortlist of pieces you could play at the recital. Surprise them on recital day with the piece that gets the most votes.
  • Switch it up each year!

I’m curious: What are examples of pieces YOU have played at your studio recitals? Please post in the comments.

P.S. Perhaps you’ve noticed: My web host company has been having server issues for the past few days, causing my website to be difficult to access. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. I believe the issue is now resolved. Thanks for understanding!

Performances

5 Reasons To Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals

Here’s a few reasons why I perform alongside my students at our studio recitals.

1: It creates an opportunity for my students to hear me play. They shouldn’t be surprised that, yes, their piano teacher can perform and play quite nicely! 😉

2: It gives me a goal to practice towards. This is good for me! It makes me practice. 

3: By putting myself through the same performance situation as my students, I stay in touch with what it feels like for my students. Empathy helps me be a better teacher as my students go through the recital preparation process.

4: It creates an opportunity for me to be a good model for my students, in terms of conducting myself onstage, playing well, etc.

5: It’s fun to pick out and perform a special piece to show my students.

I’m curious: Do YOU perform alongside your students at studio recitals?

Edit: Here’s some fun ideas: What To Play at Your Students’ Recitals.

Group Classes, Performances

2019 Masterclass Exchange

Over the weekend, I held my fifth annual masterclass exchange for my students.

What’s a masterclass exchange? Well, it’s when I ask a piano teacher friend/colleague to come in and work with a group of my students. In return, I offer to work with a group of his/her students. I hold this event every year as one of my students’ monthly “Piano Party” group classes. We use it as a way to rehearse for our upcoming studio recital.

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