Announcements, Teacher Feature

Joy Gets Interviewed… :)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a 16-year-old homeschooler, asking if I’d answer some interview questions for a research project about piano teaching.  I was happy to oblige, and she was willing to let me post my answers here too.  It was kind of fun!

How old were you when you first began learning/playing piano? Around 6 or 7.

Why did you start playing the piano? My mother got me started with her old piano book when I began showing interest by messing around on the piano.  (The book was John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers To Play,” for those of you interested!  It starts right at the beginning with staff notation. 🙂

What music schools or institutions did you learn music at? I took private lessons with 3 different private teachers during my childhood and high school years. I attended Grand Rapids Community College for my first two years of college, transferred to Hope College to finished my Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance, and then afterwards completed a Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy. The college-level pedagogy courses I took were the most valuable — and second were the private lessons. I think every piano teacher should take or audit piano pedagogy courses at their local college if they ever have the opportunity. I am a much better teacher because of those classes than I could ever be otherwise!

Who have your teachers been? Various piano teachers in my town, and then college professors at whatever college I was attending at the time. Continue reading “Joy Gets Interviewed… :)”

Games, Performances, Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature | Diane Heath

The new month brings us a new teacher feature!  Say hello to Diane, everyone!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background.

I teach part-time, with a studio of 20 – 25 students, and am also a church musician in Washington, DC.  For over twenty years I’ve taught piano and organ, as well as K – 12 class-room music, and worked extensively with children and adults in church choirs.   Additionally, there was a stretch as a creative home-schooling mom, but now I’m the parent of a college student.   My education was at  Hartt School of Music,  Indiana University, and The Levine School where I earned a certificate in Piano Pedagogy.  I’ve been privileged to study with wonderful piano teachers, including Jeffrey Chappell and Alexander Farkas. Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Diane Heath”

Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio

Hello friends,

Now that the NCKP Conference posts are all up, it’s time to return to regular posts!  Today, we have a new Teacher Feature.  Say hello to Irina!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started piano lessons at the age of 5 at the Children Music School in Kiev, Ukraine. For 9 years I had 2 individual piano lessons a week (45 min. long), and once a week 45 min.classes: music theory/solfeggio, music literature, choir, piano duet, and accompaniment (in senior classes).

At the age of 15 -19 I was studying in Kiev’s music college where I got my Bachelor degree, and the next 5 years at Kharkov Conservatory, where I got my Masters Degree in piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompaniment and Chamber Orchestra.

I started teaching piano students at Music College as a part of the pedagogy course at the age of 16. Since then, teaching is my main job, even though I enjoy accompaniment.

What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?

Seeing the results of teaching, and communicating with students and their families.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio”

Teacher Feature

Announcing a New Series: Teacher Feature!

I love reading interviews.  It’s great to hear the perspectives of different musicians on playing, teaching, and other topics.  After the great success of a few interview posts in the past (remember Andrea Dow, and the cousins Keri & Carolyn?), I began to realize that great interviews aren’t just for the big magazines and the great musicians.  Why not interview ordinary piano teachers like you and I?  We have so much to learn from each other, and we have valuable perspectives to share!

And thus, an idea for a new series was born: Teacher Features!  As needed, random Color In My Piano readers will be asked if they would be willing to be interviewed for this series.  The questions are non-intensive and (hopefully) fun to answer.  🙂  I hope to post around 2 Teacher Features each month.

If you are dying to be interviewed so you can share your thoughts to the world, please send me an email!  Otherwise, stay tuned to read our first Teacher Feature interview coming on MONDAY!  🙂

Happy weekend!

Games, Music Camps, Studio Business, Teacher Feature

Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars

Meet Keri and Carolyn.  They are two cousins and piano teachers out of Canada who teamed up to establish their successful piano studio, Piano Stars.  They also sell some unique and original piano teaching materials on their website (click here) and on Etsy.  When I stumbled across their Etsy shop one day, I just had to order a couple of their wonderful music spinners (pictured below)!  Once I contacted Keri and Carolyn, they kindly agreed to be interviewed and featured here at Color In My Piano.  Read on!

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Joy: Please tell us about your piano backgrounds!

Keri & Carolyn: We both started piano lessons when we were 7, but due to our age difference Carolyn was actually my (Keri’s) piano teacher growing up! Carolyn has her ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and I am working on my Grade 10 with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

How long have you been running your piano studio together?

We have been working together since 2003 for our summer camps, composing and creating games & teacher resources. However, we both have our own home studios for private lessons and teach about 60 students each.

Even though we teach out of our own homes we plan all of our piano events together. We have the same incentive programs and we combine our students together for recitals, halloween parties, pizza parties, pool parties, etc… Continue reading “Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars”

improving as a teacher, Motivation

Teaching With the Student’s Goals in Mind

This week I gave a few first lessons to some new students.  One of the things I always ask during the first lesson/interview is:

What are some of your goals in taking piano lessons?

Here are some examples of answers I’ve received from students:

  • I want to be able to play classical pieces that everyone knows (i.e., Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata, Bach’s Minuet in G, etc.)
  • I want to be able to play hymns and hymn arrangements for church services.
  • I want to be able to play from chord charts to play with my church’s worship band.
  • I want to record a Christmas CD for my family.  (This was a fun project! We worked on Christmas pieces over the whole summer.)
  • I like to play by ear but but I want to learn how to read music too.
  • I just want to get better at piano just because I enjoy playing for my own enjoyment.

I’m always surprised at the variety of answers I receive when I ask this question.  Not all students have specific goals in taking lessons, but it’s always worth asking because you may be surprised at what you learn.  Knowing the student’s goals can help the teacher make the piano lessons more relavent to them.   Continue reading “Teaching With the Student’s Goals in Mind”


Interview with Composer Dror Perl

This post features an interview with Dror Perl, composer of the “Red,” “Purple,” and “Blue” book that were reviewed in this post.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 5 . I acquired my first music degree in Israel at Rimon school of Music.  Later my curiosity and love for Jazz brought me to NY where I started taking lessons with the legendary Barry Harris at his workshop.  I really enjoy the concerts and rich music scene that NY has to offer. In 2002, I continued my studies at ESC SUNY. I’ve been a professional musician and lived in NY ever since and have been traveling often overseas. Continue reading “Interview with Composer Dror Perl”