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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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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Games

How to Organize Your Games for Piano Lessons

Do you have a collection of games, flashcards, and props to use during piano lessons with your students? Are they organized so you can find things when you need them?

As you probably know, your teaching resources are only as helpful as your organizational system. When things are out-of-place or impossible to find (we’ve all been there!), those items unfortunately cannot do you — or your student — any good.

The key is to have a system in place where you always know where to find and put things. As the saying goes: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Your system needs to make sense to you, and it may be as unique as you are.

In this post, I’ll describe my method for organizing my teaching games/materials and share how you can set up a similar system if you desire. I hope you’ll gain some tips or ideas for how you can organize your favorite piano teaching resources to be readily at your fingertips!

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Studio Business

Freebie: Lesson Attendance Sheet Updated for 2022-23

I just updated one of the studio business forms from my Printables page for the 2022-23 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! 

In case you haven’t seen this from before, here is how it works: Write your students’ names in the first column.  Each week, write the lesson date (in a month / date format) in the column for that week.  This is how you can track attendance.  The small circles in each cell are where you can write checkmarks indicating tuition payments.  Whether you charge by-the-week or by-the-month, you can place a checkmark by each paid lesson date.

Download it below or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Lesson Attendance & Payment Sheet (2023-24) (138.1 KiB, 36,667 hits)

Printables, Technique

Freebie: Technical Requirements Charts for RCM’s 2022 Piano Syllabus

Have you heard? The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) has recently released the newly revised 2022 Piano Syllabus for their practical examinations. They are also releasing new editions of the wonderful Celebration Series piano literature collection (available soon). What exciting news for piano teachers!

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Conferences

2022 MTNA Virtual Conference Recap

A couple of weeks ago, I joined a few piano teacher friends to virtually attend the 2022 MTNA Virtual National Conference from March 26-30, 2022. Although I definitely prefer in-person conferences over virtual conferences, I have to say that joining up with some buddies to watch the sessions together was a really excellent second option!

My friend Amy Chaplin (of PianoPantry.com) was kind enough to offer to host us in her home…and even cook for us! The rest of our crew included Christina Whitlock (of The Beyond Measure podcast) and Janna Williamson (intermediate repertoire guru offering a fantastic YouTube channel for piano teachers).

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