Reviews

REVIEW: Carol Matz’s Christmas Music for Piano Students

Are you familiar with Carol Matz and her Interactive Piano Method?

Carol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method is unique for providing a corresponding, interactive online experience for students alongside their printed lesson books. If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about her method here on her website.

But in today’s blog post, I’d like to focus on Carol’s Christmas arrangements. After all, it’s that time of year when many of us are prepping Christmas music for our students!

Around this time last year, I purchased Carol’s Christmas Deluxe Collection, a bundle of 15 studio-licensed pieces. And let me tell you, it was such a lifesaver! It was exactly what I needed at the time, especially given that I was still teaching entirely online at that point. More on this collection later, below.

When I recently found out that Carol was getting ready to release a couple of new bundles this year, I reached out to her to collaborate for this blog post and give you the full scoop. 🙂 In this review, I’ll give you an overview of all of Carol’s Christmas music offerings as well as a limited-time promo code just for Color In My Piano readers. Read on.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Carol Matz’s Christmas Music for Piano Students”
Reviews

Follow-up Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s Teaching Resources from MusicEscapades.com

About a year ago (August 2020), I wrote a review and giveaway post about Wendy Chan’s wonderful Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase board and a few other of her wonderful teaching resources. Well, today, I’m happy to share an update about her materials and offer a GIVEAWAY (keep reading)!

Wendy’s Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase Board has been such a great resource in my teaching over the past year. I keep it within arm’s reach when I teach and find myself using it on a near-daily basis in my lessons, both online and in-person.

Continue reading “Follow-up Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s Teaching Resources from MusicEscapades.com”
Reviews

REVIEW: “Play This Book”: A Children’s Book for the Musical Kids & Parents in your Life

My little daughter, Aria, is ten months old now (can you believe it?). Since early on, we made it a priority to have plenty of baby-safe books around, kept within easy reach. Inspired by Pinterest, we put up a set of IKEA Mosslanda photo ledges (also available in black, and in a longer size) in our living room to hold our children’s books.

We enjoy sitting with Aria and reading together. She also enjoys reading by herself, after pulling the books off the lowest shelf. 🙂 It amazes me how long she can sit by herself and entertain herself while flipping through her books.

Some of our books were gifts, while some were purchased at our local thrift store, and still others were ones I specifically searched out and purchased new. As a piano teacher, I’m always interested in finding music-related books to add to her library. Today, I’m going to share my review of a book I happened across on Amazon that has become a fast favorite — for both Aria and myself!

It’s called “Play This Book”, by Jessica Young & Daniel Wiseman.

Continue reading “REVIEW: “Play This Book”: A Children’s Book for the Musical Kids & Parents in your Life”
Giveaways, Reviews

Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s “Music Escapades Shoppe” Teaching Resources

Years ago, I remember meeting Wendy Chan and her Music Escapades Shoppe. Well, recently I reconnected with her and learned about the relaunch of her online shop! I was pleased to chat with Wendy again and check out her resources.

When we chatted, Wendy asked if I’d be interested in reviewing any of her teaching resources. I replied that I’d definitely be interested in her Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase Board. She, in turn, sent me not only that, but three of her other teaching resources as well. How generous! Pictured below are the four items she sent.

In this blog post, I will share my personal thoughts and photos about each item. Please continue reading, and be sure to learn how to get a discount code and enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

1. Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase Board

Wendy’s Grand Staff Magnetic Dry-Erase Board has been quite useful during my recent teaching, especially while teaching online right now due to Covid-19.

Continue reading “Review & Giveaway: Wendy Chan’s “Music Escapades Shoppe” Teaching Resources”
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

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

Book Review – Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

You might be wondering why I’m reviewing a non-piano-related book here on my blog. Bear with me – the reasons will become clear in a moment!

I remember hearing about this New York Times Bestseller when it came out in 2014. Although it sounded interesting to me at the time, I’m reading it for the first time recently. After finding out we were pregnant last summer and soon afterwards experiencing the woes of first trimester nausea and occasional midnight insomnia, I was suddenly on the hunt for an ebook I could read in bed on my phone without disturbing my sleeping husband. I liked the idea of reading something related to our new adventure as soon-to-be-parents, but was looking for something less information-driven than classics such as “What To Expect When You’re Expecting“. After seeing a recommendation for “Bringing Up Bébé” and reading its reviews on Amazon, I felt this book was just what I was looking for.

In this book, the author, journalist Pamela Druckerman, recounts her experience as an American raising a baby (and later, two more) in France. Soon after moving to Paris, she began noticing certain stark differences in child-rearing approaches in France compared to those typical in the United States. She started paying attention to this and asking questions — even stashing a notebook in her diaper bag — and investigating to see if she could learn more about how the French parent their children.

Druckerman noticed French children are generally well-behaved in public, waiting calmly for meals to arrive and waiting their turn to speak. French children enjoy a diversity of prepared vegetables, proteins, and salads and are accustomed to eating meals served in courses alongside their parents at designated times (8am, noon, 4pm snacktime, and 8pm), while American parents often expect their children might refuse to eat much else besides “kid food” (such as mac and cheese, chicken fingers, and snack food). French children are encouraged to be autonomous and independent in their play, being allowed more room to become absorbed and find pleasure in an activity for its own sake. In contrast, American parents might follow their children around the playground, delivering praise for mundanities such as going down the slide or tying their shoes. While French babies learn to “do their nights” around three months of age, American parents expect to function (or perhaps, not function) in a sleep-deprived manner for a year or more until baby begins to sleep through the night.

Continue reading “Book Review – Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting”
Reviews

Book Review – Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, by Barry M. Prizant, PhD

I recently finished reading the book Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, written by Dr. Barry M. Prizant. It took me only a few days to “read” (I listened to the audiobook version) the whole thing, because I was enjoying it so much.

My motivation for searching out this book arose from a desire to better understand my current piano students who have autism. This was the book I settled on after searching on Amazon.com for a book on the topic that had excellent reviews.

This book did not disappoint.

The author, Dr. Barry Prizant, has decades of experience working with individuals with autism and is a leading expert in the field. He is a scholar, researcher, consultant, and an adjunct faculty at Brown University.

As Dr. Prizant explains in the book, autism therapy typically tends to focus on behavioral therapy — which means, getting rid of behaviors such as difficulties interacting socially, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Dr. Prizant points the way to a different approach instead. His book promotes the seeking of understanding individuals and what might be underlying their behaviors.

Rather than seeking to eliminate so-called “autistic behaviors”, Dr. Prizant advocates asking “why”. WHY is the person behaving this way? How can I better understand what might be causing the individual’s behavior, and how can I change MY behavior to help him or her?

Continue reading “Book Review – Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, by Barry M. Prizant, PhD”
Reviews

Review: “Pianist” Magazine

A few months ago, one of my adult students introduced me to a wonderful UK-based magazine called Pianist. As a piano teacher, I couldn’t be more pleased that my student found this magazine.

My student Patsy and I, holding a few issues of Pianist magazine. This lovely lady lights up my life! 

I reached out to folks behind Pianist magazine to request a few back issues so I could write this review. They generously agreed. I’m excited to share with you more about this magazine today!

My student has been so enjoying reading the articles in these magazines and learning pieces included in the issues. 

Continue reading “Review: “Pianist” Magazine”
Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker

Upon reading the title of this book, you might be wondering why this book is being reviewed on a piano teaching blog. That’s a great question! The reason boils down to this: this book applies to piano teachers as much as anyone else, and to me it was SO good that I wanted to share it with you here. 🙂

Gathering is universal — yet taken for granted — and can be so meaningful when done well. I feel confident that upon reading this book, you will, like me, find multiple ways to apply it within both your personal life and professional life.

In her book, author Priya Parker draws upon her expertise as host, event facilitator, conflict resoluter, and consultant to present a number of principles for gathering. The first principle she discusses is the most important: knowing the purpose of your gathering. From there, Parker discusses how your purpose will help you determine who to invite (and exclude) from your gathering, what venue to choose, and how to make the event transformative and memorable for those in attendance.

In this book, you’ll learn how to greet attendees, open gatherings, end them, “prime” attendees for the event before the date, and ensure the gathering is unique, effective, and fun for all in attendance.

The Art of Gathering is chock-full of fascinating stories from Parker’s experience exemplifying her gathering dos and don’ts. I found myself relaying many of the stories from the book to my husband. In turn, he kept asking if I was done reading the book so he could start reading it. 🙂

Parker’s advice was inspiring to me as I considered the variety of gatherings types in my own life — from my recitals, my studio “Piano Parties”, music camps, MTNA chapter general meetings, board meetings, gatherings with my family, dinners with friends, etc. I feel better equipped with things I can do to help gatherings be memorable and enjoyable for all involved. This book arrived in my life at an especially relevant time, as I am serving on the conference planning committee for the OhioMTA‘s 2019 state conference and also midst preparations for my upcoming second annual Piano Teacher Retreat at my home.

I “read” this book by listening to the audiobook using the Audible app (an Amazon company). I love Audible, because it enables me to read many more books in a year than I would without it. However, as much as I love audiobooks, I must tell you The Art of Gathering is so good you might want to consider buying a hardcopy (Amazon link) to mark up and reference again.

I recommend The Art of Gathering to anyone interested in learning how to facilitate gatherings to make them matter.

* * * * *

Interested in a trial subscription for Audible.com? Here’s a special link for a trial that will give you two free audiobooks.

Special shoutout to Seth Godin for recommending this book on his blog

repertoire / methods, Reviews

Review: Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey

Back in the summer of 2015, as a huge fan of Irina Gorin’s YouTube channel, I attended Irina Gorin’s first ever piano teacher workshop held near her hometown in the Indianapolis area. Here is a photo of Irina and I during the workshop.

20150807_201911 Irina Gorin workshop

Over the past two years, I have been using Irina’s self-published method book, “Tales of a Musical Journey”, more and more with my students. As I have become more familiar with the books and am seeing its results in my students, it has become my favorite piano method book.

If you’ve watched any of Irina’s teaching videos on YouTube, you have seen for yourself how Irina successfully develops in her students a healthy physical approach the instrument as well as expressive and sensitive playing — even in her youngest beginner students. Irina’s books are the result of combining what she feels is the best of Russian piano pedagogy and the best of American piano pedagogy. This makes Irina’s method unique and quite different from typical American piano method books.

In this article, I’d like to share an overview of Irina’s method and the reasons why I like it so much. Continue reading “Review: Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey”

Music Theory, Reviews

Review: Celebrate Theory Series from The Royal Conservatory

celebrate-theoryI’m so excited to tell you today about a fantastic series of theory workbooks called Celebrate Theory (Canada | U.S.), just released from Frederick Harris Music publishers. If you happen to already enjoy – as I do – using the wonderful Celebration Series (Canada | U.S. | Amazon.com) with your piano students, you will be especially interested in learning about Celebrate Theory.

Before talking about the specifics of the Celebrate Theory books, allow me to first briefly cover some background information about The Royal Conservatory and the revisions to the RCM Theory Syllabus, 2016 Edition.

The Royal Conservatory (RCM) is a music education institution in Toronto that has been in existence since 1886 and is responsible for a curriculum for music study that is considered by many to be the foremost music education system in Canada, the United States, and many other countries around the world. Exam centers for RCM (also known as the Music Development Program [MDP] in the U.S.) are available in many major cities a few times each year. RCM offers quality publications for music study through their non-profit publisher, Frederick Harris Music.

I have entered a few students in the RCM/MDP practical exams over the past few years and I consider the program to be absolutely top notch. (Check out my printable charts for helping students prepare for the technical requirements portion of the assessment.)

Whether or not your students participate in RCM/MDP exams, you will find the Celebrate Theory books worth your attention. Continue reading “Review: Celebrate Theory Series from The Royal Conservatory”

Reviews, Technology

Review & Giveaway: Note Rush app

13246163_248194038873284_8983692676277542062_oToday, I am so excited to introduce to you a brand new app for music teachers called Note Rush. As I have been experimenting with this app during beta testing, I soon discovered just what a useful tool this app is for my students. Note Rush has become my favorite app for piano teaching.

Note Rush is a note reading app that is simple, intuitive, and fun. Unlike other note identification apps that present a note and require the user to name the note by letter name, Note Rush “listens” using the iPad’s microphone to identify whether the user is playing the correct piano key. It’s so important for students to learn to associate staff positions with the corresponding piano key in the correct octave, and Note Rush encourages this!

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The app automatically calibrates to the piano, allowing the app to be useable even if the piano may be slightly out-of-tune.

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Allowing you to choose from a variety of levels — covering various ranges of notes in treble clef, bass clef, or the entire grand staff — the app is customizable to the user’s ability.

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Because the rounds are timed, students are invited to repeat the rounds to try to improve their times.

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The three themes appeal to a wide range of students while not creating a distraction through too many options.

Note Rush collage

Tell your students to buy this app instead of a box of flashcards. Note Rush is available in the Apple App Store for $3.99 USD. Find it for Android here. Be sure to visit the Note Rush website and like their facebook page.

Note: I bought this app. As always, my reviews contain my honest opinion.

The Note Rush developer has kindly offered two promo codes for a giveaway! For a chance to win a free download of Note Rush, leave a comment below before Tuesday, June 28 at midnight (Eastern time) sharing your favorite aspect of Note Rush. Two winners will be randomly chosen and contacted the following day.