Games

Trick-or-Treat! Rhythm Game – Newly Revised

It’s that time of year! I have a recurring event in my calendar that reminds me at the end of September each year to get out my Trick-or-Treat Rhythm Game for my piano students. I use this game at the start of almost every lesson I teach throughout the month of October.

This game has been a classic in my studio since I created it back in 2018. I made it available for purchase in my shop a year later in 2019.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on making some revisions to the game and am pleased to announce the new version now available. I’ve smoothed out the progression of difficulty a bit and created 5 levels of cards instead of 4, but the game is essentially the same. In this post, I’ll tell you a bit more about it plus share some insights into how rhythm is taught from a Music Learning Theory perspective.

(PS: If you purchased the game in the past, you are eligible to receive an updated PDF at no cost. In fact, past purchasers of the game will receive an email from me later today containing a download link to the revised version. If you don’t see it, please contact me here and let me know!)

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Worksheets

New Worksheet: Primary Chords in Major & Minor

Do you like to have your piano students analyze and label the chords in their pieces? I do!

I recently had the idea to create this pair of worksheets specifically for a couple of my students to assist with process of analyzing a piece. The worksheet is to be completed in the same key as their piece, before commencing their analyzation. The idea is to help students think ahead of time about what chords they can expect to see/hear in their piece — which can help make the analysis process easier.

This is a two-page set of worksheets: one for working in major keys and one for minor keys. The worksheets are basically identical other than the fact that the minor page reminds students they need to raise the leading tone.

The steps on the worksheet lead the student through thinking about the key signature, the notes of the scale, the primary chords (I, IV, and V) in that key, and then finally all the diatonic chords in that key.

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Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2023-24

I just updated one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2023-24 school year.  It is called the Lesson Attendance & Payment Sheet PDF.  Even though I don’t personally use this sheet myself anymore (I now charge a monthly flat tuition rate), every year I receive requests from teachers asking if I would please update it for the upcoming school year. And I’m happy to do so! 

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Retreat

Recap: My 2023 Piano Teacher Retreat

The last two weekends, I hosted a piano teacher retreat at my home in southeast Michigan with two groups of teachers. I’m still reeling from all the fun we had and memories made! It’s been a full and rewarding couple of weeks to be sure.

In this post, I’ll share some photos and highlights from this year’s retreat, along with a quick bit of backstory behind these events.

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Conferences

Highlights from NCKP 2023

Last week, I attended the 2023 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) held July 26-29, 2023. I have to say it felt so great to be there face-to-face with fellow piano teacher friends old and new, especially because this was the first in-person I’ve attended since the pandemic!

This morning as I was completing NCKP’s after-conference survey, I realized that I have been attending every NCKP since 2011. That’s a total of seven NCKPs so far!

If you’ve never attended the NCKP, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. It’s similar to the MTNA National Conferences in many ways, but it’s a slightly smaller conference and they do certain things a little bit differently. It’s organized and sponsored by the Frances Clark Center — a non-profit association dedicated to honoring and furthering the legacy of piano pedagogy Frances Clark (1905-1998). NCKP meets biennially, always in the same location (Lombard, IL — outside Chicago), which for me is convenient because I can drive there in about four hours.

Anyway, in this lengthy post, I’d like to share a variety of highlights and bits of news from NCKP 2023. Read on!

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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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Studio Business

5 Steps for Successful Interview Lessons with Music Students

Interview lesson, meet-and-greet, intro lesson, trial lesson, consultation—whatever you choose to call them, introductory sessions are a great way to jumpstart your potentials students’ success in music lessons. This article presents five steps to help you make the most of your interview lessons with new music students.

Step 1: Define Your Goals for the Interview Lesson

Before conducting an interview lesson, it is important to determine your goals for an interview lesson. For many music teachers, these sessions are useful for setting expectations for their music studio and determining if a student-teacher fit is possible. They allow you to build rapport, communicate your expectations for practice, behavior, payments and other studio policies and procedures, and assess the student’s goals, needs and level of interest.

Additionally, an interview lesson can also be an opportunity to:

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Announcements

Save the Date: 2023 Piano Teacher Retreat

Hello, piano teacher friends!

After a three-year hiatus (due to the pandemic and having babies!), my piano teacher retreats are back! I’m excited to invite you to attend a retreat for piano teachers taking place at my home this summer.

Piano Teacher Retreat is a three-day getaway for piano teachers to connect, recharge, share, and learn from each another. During this unique experience, you will have opportunity to contribute and benefit from collective wisdom during group discussions, interactive activities, as well as relaxing downtime. You’ll leave you feeling inspired and connected, with newly formed friendships and fresh ideas for your teaching.

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Teaching Piano

Embracing Life as Parent & Piano Teacher 

In recent months, I’ve conversed with a few readers seeking thoughts or advice relating to navigating roles as both parents and piano teachers. As I talked to these fellow parent-teachers and started drafting this article, I realized I have a lot to say on this topic. Becoming “Mom” to two sweet little girls in 2020 and 2022 has given me a perspective I’d love to share — particularly for anyone who might be in the same stage of life.

Without further ado, here’s my article with thoughts related to being both parents and piano teachers. Read on for advice regarding purpose, work-life “blend,” childcare, maternity/paternity leave, managing your time, and designing a life you love. Whatever your current family situation, I hope this article has something for you.

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Announcements

Blogiversary Sale Going on Now!

Just a short note today: I’d be remiss not to tell you about my annual blogiversary sale celebrating ColorInMyPiano.com having just turned 14!

Use the promo code 14YEARS now during checkout between now to receive 20% off all teaching resources in my shop (good through March 22, 2023). There’s a variety of games, sheet music, and camp curriculum resources to explore. Click here

Reviews, Technique

REVIEW: Technique Builders, by Hazel Cobb

When it comes to piano technique, many pianists often think of exercises involving scales, arpeggios, chords, and more. However, at its core, technique is actually about sound – that is, being able to achieve a desired expressive effect on the instrument.

In piano teaching, technique exercises can provide young pianists with opportunities to explore different sounds and ways of using their bodies in an effective, efficient, healthy and comfortable manner. Unfortunately, pianist injuries are quite common, but by prioritizing student wellness, we can help turn this trend around.

Today, I want to share about a book I have been finding useful with my piano students over the past couple of years and now consider a go-to resource in my teaching. It’s called Technique Builders: Fundamental Study Patterns to Improve Piano Proficiency, by Hazel Cobb. In this review, you’ll learn why I recommend Technique Builders and how you can use it effectively in your piano teaching. (Bonus: Download my handy-dandy errata sheet at the end of this article!)

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