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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Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.”

–Mary Poppins


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?

Video links: YouTube | Facebook

For more videos, check out the playlist here.

P.S.: Let me know if you’d like me to consider making more of this kind of video!

Announcements

Celebrating Ten Years!

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. :)

The Beginning

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.

On July 9, 2009, I decided that I was enjoying blogging enough to go full swing: I came up with the title “Color In My Piano,” bought my own domain name and a year’s worth of web hosting, and gave the site a new look.

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.

Continue reading “Celebrating Ten Years!”
Music Camps

Highlight: Music Camp Resources for Your Summer Camps

Greetings!

As part of our 10-year blogiversary celebration, I’d like to continue our series giving you a tour through the resources currently available in my shop. Today, we will be taking a look at the music camp resources. If you are thinking about offering a music camp this summer (or ANY time of year) but aren’t sure how to get started, this post is for you! Don’t forget — everything in my shop is 20% off through the end of February 2019 if you use the promo code 10YEARS!

#1: Camp: So, You Want To Be A Composer?

“So, You Want To Be A Composer?” is a fun, creative camp designed to inspire and equip your students to compose their own pieces of music! Students will leave camp knowing how to make a piece of music reflect its title, use motives, organize a piece using a form, and much more.  This camp is full of music listening, music making, and music composing.  

Continue reading “Highlight: Music Camp Resources for Your Summer Camps”
Announcements

Highlight: Notes-To-Self Wall Art Kit

Our 10-year blogiversary celebration sale continues this month! Don’t forget to take advantage of the promo code (10YEARS) for 20% off, if you’re planning to, before the end of February 2019!

Today, I want to highlight an item from my shop you might be interested in: my “Notes To Self” printable. A couple of teachers sent me great photos and notes about how these sticky notes are impacting their students…be sure to see those at end of this post!

The “Notes To Self” Inspirational Wall Art Kit (PDF) contains the digital materials you need to create interactive wall art to inspire those within your social sphere. It’s a great way to promote positivity and camaraderie!

I created the “Notes To Self” wall kit with my piano students in mind, but they are perfect for any setting where people gather for a common purpose. Here’s how it looks in my piano studio:

Continue reading “Highlight: Notes-To-Self Wall Art Kit”
Teaching Piano, Technique

Butterfly Bands for Beginner Piano Technique (GIVEAWAY)

I enjoy using a butterfly band prop — credit to Irina Gorin — to help my beginner students develop a physical approach to the instrument that is comfortable and effective for ideal sound production. In Irina’s words, the butterfly exercise helps students experience “relaxation of the hand/wrist, a floating arm, and a gentle touch”.

Today, I thought I’d share how I make these bands for my students — including an improvement I came up with during the most recent round of butterfly-band-making. :)

Continue reading “Butterfly Bands for Beginner Piano Technique (GIVEAWAY)”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.”

–Mary Poppins


P.S.: I recently made a short video discussing the quote from last time: “A fiery, good beginner always stands higher than a master in mediocrity.” —Robert Schumann.” Click here to watch it, and please let me know if you’d like me to consider making more of this kind of video!

Teaching Piano, Technique

Lesson Videos: Tone Production, Rhythm Dictation, and Staccato

This post is a followup to yesterday’s post, Meet Lucia, Piano Teacher in Puerto Rico! where we got a glimpse into Lucia Fernandez’s lovely piano studio space.

Quick backstory: Lucia attended Irina Gorin’s workshop back in May and is familiarizing herself with Irina’s method, Tales of a Musical Journey. I took Irina’s workshop back in 2015, and have been an enthusiast ever since. Lucia and I connected via Irina’s Facebook group, and decided to get together in person while I was vacationing in Puerto Rico. Using Lucia’s daughter as a guinea pig, we explored certain aspects of Irina’s techniques together. Today, I’m sharing a few of the video clips Lucia took during our time together!

A few things I want you to know before we dive into the videos:

  • Irina’s method is designed around developing a beautiful sound and a healthy technique from the beginning. That is the focus of these activities, as you will see.
  • Ana isn’t a total beginner — she has been taking lessons with her mom for over a year. They’ve been using other books in addition to recent explorations into Irina’s book. Ana is seven years old.
  • Although I did take Irina’s workshop and have been using her materials for a few years now, my teaching isn’t as amazing as Irina’s. :) I encourage you to learn from the master! Check out Irina’s extensive YouTube channel here.

Video #1: Tone Production

Continue reading “Lesson Videos: Tone Production, Rhythm Dictation, and Staccato”
Teaching Piano

Meet Lucia, Piano Teacher in Puerto Rico!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were in Puerto Rico. I highly recommend it as a fun place to vacation! The culture is different enough from the mainland U.S. that it feels a bit exotic, and yet, it’s familiar enough to the point where you can get around easily. Many of the locals speak English in addition to Spanish. There’s so much history to experience, great food, beaches, gorgeous weather, and fun excursions such as snorkeling and the rainforest. You can’t go wrong!

Before our trip, I connected with Puerto Rican piano teacher Lucia Fernandez, thanks to Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey method Facebook group (check out my review of Irina’s method book here). Lucia and her husband arranged a lovely dinner meetup for us and the couple we were vacationing with.

A couple of days later, Lucia picked me up to visit her home studio. It’s always fun to get a peek into a fellow piano teacher’s studio, right? Lucia agreed to allow me to feature her home studio here on my blog for you to see. :)

Continue reading “Meet Lucia, Piano Teacher in Puerto Rico!”
Announcements

Highlight: Ice Cream Intervals Game

Our 10-year blogiversary celebration sale continues this month! Don’t forget to take advantage of the promo code, if you’re planning to, before the end of February!

Today, I want to highlight an item from my shop you might be interested in: the Ice Cream Interval game. There’s also a freebie for your young beginners below…so keep reading!

Being able to recognize the placement of and distances between notes on the staff intervallically is crucial to reading music.  I like to tell my students that music reading involves more interval recognition than it does note identification. To help my students learn to identify intervals quickly upon sight, I created the Ice Cream Interval game.

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The cards show intervals both on the staff lines and on the piano keys, so students are encountering situations.

This simple game works great as a single person activity. We lay out the cones on the floor, and start sorting the interval “scoops” to the appropriate cone.

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Continue reading “Highlight: Ice Cream Intervals Game”