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!
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
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.
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!
Here’s what I ended up gifting my students last month:
Gloves for pianists :)
Treat sacks with brownies
I ordered the black gloves from eBay (here). I used white 3D fabric paint to add the treble clef on the RH glove, and allowed it to dry. I came back later to flip it over and draw a bass clef on the LH glove. They turned out pretty cute!
I can’t take credit for the idea. I saw a piano teacher share the idea in one of the Facebook groups for piano teachers, quite some time ago. I saved the idea, thinking I’d probably use it some year. And here we are!
I baked the brownies myself and placed two pieces in each treat sack, separated by a square of parchment paper. A quick piece of ribbon makes them look a bit festive.
If you’re looking for a good brownie recipe, here’s the link to the one I used: Best Fudgiest Brownies. My husband is a better cook than I am; he’s able to bake them just right so they are wonderfully fudgey, plus achieve that lovely cracked look on the top. Fortunately, they still taste pretty great even when I bake them. :)
Just thought I’d share. I always appreciate getting ideas from other teachers, and bet you do too!
Three years and counting…Note Rush is still my favorite app for piano teaching! (Hearing about it for the first time? It’s a note recognition app. Check out my original review here!)
Back in 2016, I shared a free printable of a Note Rush chart I made (pictured below) for tracking students’ best times for each of the built-in five levels. (Thanks goes to Note Rush’s developer, Thomas Grayston, for providing the images I needed to create these printables.)
To kick off the new 2019 school year, I decided to hold a studio-wide Note Rush challenge for my students for the month of September. To help facilitate this challenge, I created a few new printables. Below, I’m going to share those printables and tell you all about the challenge. Perhaps you’ll want to consider holding your own Note Rush challenge for your studio!
This was definitely a highlight of my summer — hosting a third annual Piano Teacher Retreat! This involved three days and fourteen teachers exploring this year’s theme: rhythm and Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our shared three days of discussing, learning, laughing, and musicking. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend this time with this wonderful group of teachers.
The event was held at my home in Bowling Green, Ohio, August 1-3, 2019. Nine of us stayed overnight here in my home, while the other five were hosted at my colleagues’ homes nearby.
These ladies arrived with coordinating black-and-white, and red-white-and-blue! :)
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!
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?
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.
“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.”
Forgive me for sharing this quote/image once before already, but I decided to get on track for posting the video alongside the quote in the same week — rather than creating a video for the previous week’s quote. So, I’m posting the quote again, this time with the related video below. :)
So, let’s talk about this quote: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” –Mary Poppins. How can we apply this to piano teaching? What does “fun” in piano lesson settings look like?
Today, February 28, 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of Color In My Piano! It’s hard to believe it’s been TEN years!
What does ten years of blogging look like? And how did my blog get its name, anyway? Well, let me tell you the story! I’ll try to keep it brief — but we’re covering ten years of history here. :)
10 years ago today, on February 28, 2009, I wrote my first blog post: a welcome and brief statement of purpose. I found my inspiration largely from Natalie Wickham’s Music Matters Blog and Susan Paradis’s Piano Teacher Resources, whose resources I found tremendously helpful and inspiring for my piano teaching. At this point, I was running a successful piano studio of about 20 students out of my parents’ home, and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Hope College. I graduated in May of 2009.
The name “Color In My Piano” was coined when, during my senior year at Hope College, I was required to write an essay which reflected upon my life so far and summed up my worldview. Not surprisingly, much of paper focused on my beliefs about music and the role of the piano/teaching in my life. In my life, I strive to keep my music-making and teaching from feeling like merely a job or a requirement. I strive to keep “color in my piano” for both my students and myself.