NCKP 2011 | (10) The Unknown Horowitz, by Sherrill Martin

More conference notes!  This was a fascinating session about Horowitz.  During this session, we also had the privilege of hearing the World Premiere of a Ballade that Horowitz wrote, performed by Louis Nagel!

The Unknown Horowitz: New Insights into the Man & his Music, by Sherrill Martin.  Th @ 3:30pm.

Horowitz studied piano with his mother and then later at the Kiev Conservatory.  In 1914, he played for Scriabin (just a year before Scriabin died), and Scriabin’s advice to Horowitz’ father was to be sure he gets exposed to lots of music, and knows literature and art.  Horowitz was very introverted and terrified of performing at this point.  He wanted to be a composer and had no idea that he was a better-than-average pianist.  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (10) The Unknown Horowitz, by Sherrill Martin”

Music Theory, Practice, Printables, Teaching Piano, Technique

Just Updated: Scale & Arpeggio Fingering (2 Octaves) Reference Sheet

Some of you may remember the Scale & Arpeggio Fingering reference sheet I posted in December of 2010. About a month ago, a friendly reader made some very helpful suggestions for improvement, and so I spent quite a bit of time revising the printable. It’s called “Scale and Arpeggio Fingering for Piano (2 Octaves)” and you can find it on the Printables > Other Resources page.

I originally created this printable with my intermediate/advanced students in mind who are working on 2- and 4- octave scales/arpeggios and have trouble keeping all their fingerings straight in their head once they start getting them under their fingers. It’s nice to have a guide tucked inside the front cover of a book to refer to now and then!

The document contains three pages:

Page 1: Rules and tricks for remembering scale and arpeggio fingerings (as shown on the right).

Page 2: A listing of the fingerings for each Major and Harmonic Minor scale/arpeggio (2-octave) for piano.

Page 3: A continuation of page 2.

Of course, there are a few different ways to finger scales and arpeggios, so I’m sorry if the fingerings listed in this printable do not correspond with the ones you prefer to teach your students. These are the ones I like to use, and I thought I’d share it with anyone who might happen to find it useful.

If anyone else finds typos or inconsistencies, please let me know! I did my best to proof-read the fingerings, but it is certainly possible that I still may have missed something!

  Scale and Arpeggio Fingerings (2 Octaves) Reference Sheet (86.0 KiB, 127,952 hits)


My Piano Purchase!

You saw the sneak peek photo yesterday… here’s the full scoop on my recent piano purchase!

I’ve been shopping on Craigslist for quite some time, and I learned that a lot of piano shopping is about personal preference.  My husband and I looked at an absolutely breathtaking Knabe from the 1920’s, for example, but as soon as I played a few notes I knew it wasn’t the piano for me.  Somehow, it just didn’t grab me.  I wanted to find something that I would love to sit down and play.

Then, we looked at a 5’7” Kawai…..

The owner was asking $3500.  It was built in 1966, and the inside parts and the finish are all in original condition.  I could see it probably needed a little bit of work, but I really, really liked the touch.  It was fun to play!

I hired a registered piano technician to inspect the piano for me before I bought it.  The technician confirmed that it does need some work, but we were able to talk the owner down to $2500.  My new piano was delivered last Friday!

Sorry the photos are a bit grainy…I used the camera in my iPod Touch.

Continue reading “My Piano Purchase!”


…I’m Back!

Hello, fellow piano teachers!

I hope you’ve missed me during my blogging hiatus.  🙂  My husband and I are now happily moved to northwest Ohio, where we are renting a lovely old three-bedroom house within walking distance of downtown.  We have so much more space here versus our one-bedroom apartment back in Michigan, and let me tell you – this house was made for running a piano studio!  Lots of photos are coming soon, so stay tuned.

So, what have I been up to the last few days/weeks?

  • Unpacking boxes.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Organizing piano studio books and materials.
  • Creating/updating studio documents (policies, forms, etc.).
  • Updating my piano studio website.
  • Buying a used grand piano (!!!).
  • Putting “Piano Lessons” posters all over town.
  • Giving a piano lesson to my first new student.

I do have one sneak peek photo to show you for now……………

These are exciting times!  I feel like I have so much to share.  I hope you’ll stay tuned.  🙂


Performances, Printables

Just Added: Recital Program Template #3

It’s recital season!

Have you held your spring recital yet?  If you haven’t, here’s a new recital program template you are free to use if you like!

I currently have two recital templates on my Printables page and they are very popular downloads.  This one is in color, although it still looks pretty good in black and white if you plan to print it that way.

To download: Visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Piano Recital Program Template #3.”  I saved it as a “docx” this time, and I hope you all are still able to open it even if you don’t have the latest version of Microsoft Word.  Please let me know if you run into problems.

If your spring recital has already occurred, how did it go?  I’d love to hear all about it!


Some Page Turning Humor

Whew, the semester is wrapping up!  My husband and I are looking forward to graduation, although it’s certainly bittersweet.  I will really miss being in school!  We’ll be moving sometime over the next few months, although a lot is still up in the air.  For now, I can tell you we are moving to Ohio!  (Any Ohioan readers out there?)

I received this email forward from a friend of mine, and today I thought I’d share it here.  Enjoy!

The following program notes are from an unidentified piano recital.

Tonight’s page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the Boris Nitsky School of Page
Turning in Philadelphia.  She has been turning pages here and abroad for many years for some of the world’s leading pianists.

In 1988,  Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her to Israel to study page turning from left to right.  She is a winner of the 1984 Rimsky Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecendeted 32 seconds.  She was also a 1983 silver medalist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition:  contestants retrieve and rearrange a musical score dropped from a Yamaha.  Ms. Spelke excelled in “grace, swiftness, and especially poise.”

For techniques,  Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page corner methods.  She works from a standard left bench position, and is the originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch,  a style used to avoid obscuring the pianist’s view of the music.

She is page turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa, where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page Turning Institute.

Ms.  Spelke is married, and has a nice house on a lake.

Forum Q&A's

Forum Q&A | What is your Policy Regarding Summer Lessons?

I had so much fun reading about what kind of pianos you all have on last week’s Forum Q&A!  And many of you with blogs posted photos of your piano too.  If you haven’t seen all the comments, click here and scroll down to check them out.

This week, let’s talk about something less fun… policies (haha, just kidding).  It’s interesting to hear how different teachers approach summertime.  Some teachers want their summer off.  Others want to keep teaching, or really need the income throughout the whole year.  It can also depend on the students you have.  One of my piano professors tried to require weekly summer lessons, but for years students/parents gave her trouble about it.  Now, she requires them each to take just 6 lessons at some point during the summer.  I’m sure everyone has ideas about this matter!  So, tell us about your situation:

What are your current policies regarding summer lessons? Required or optional?  Week, bi-weekly, or other?  Regular tuition rates, or discounted?

If you don’t require students to take lessons all summer, have you found other ways to keep your income the same throughout the year?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  Add your comment below.

Photo Credit: athrasher | CC 2.0

Forum Q&A's, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | What is your favorite piano brand(s)?

Last week’s Forum Q&A was all about the benefits of joining a professional organization such as MTNA.  There are some very interesting comments, so please take a moment to read them by clicking here!

This week’s Forum Q&A was inspired by Leah.  😉  I will be piano shopping over the summer, and am starting to think ahead about what kind of piano I’d like to buy!  I’d love to hear about what kind of piano you have in your studio, and what piano brand(s) are your favorite.  So, please tell us:

What kind of piano do you have in your home?  Do you have more than one?  =)

What piano manufacturer/brand(s) are your favorite and why?

Do you know of any good tips about buying pianos?

It would be so fun to see photos of what kind of pianos everyone has!  Perhaps if you have a blog, you could post a picture of your piano and share a link to it in the comments below.  If you don’t have a blog, feel free to email me your picture (admin[at] and perhaps I could put together a photo collage of sorts and post it next week!  This will be so fun!!

Photo Credit: shawnzrossi | CC 2.0


repertoire / methods

Faber Piano Adventures 2nd Edition

Have you heard the news about the new 2nd Editions of the Faber Piano Adventures?  They’ve completed a revision of the Primer and Level 1 books, and will be doing Level 2 (and beyond?) at a later date.

At the MTNA conference, I had the opportunity to look at the new books at the Hal Leonard booth in the Exhibit Hall (and even take home a free copy of the Primer Level Performance book!).

You can visit their website to read about all the updates made in the new 2nd Editions, but below are a few highlights:

  • The back of the books shows a chart that shows the books and supplemental materials available.  The front of the books also has “2nd Edition” marked clearly in the upper left hand corner.
  • Inside the front cover, there is a progress chart that clearly shows the progression and introduction of concepts for easy lesson planning.
  • The Theory book more closely follows the concepts and artwork of the Lesson Book.
  • The Theory book contains more creative activities, such as improvisation and composition activities.
  • New repertoire has been added to the Performance and Lesson Books for more variety at your recitals.
  • A new Sightreading Book has been added to the Primer Level and Level 1!  It is a thick, black and white book with short examples to sightread.  Students are instructed, “Don’t Practice This!” and to cross out the page once they’ve sightread the page for that day.
  • A new Teacher Guide is available!

The Piano Adventures method is one of my favorites to use with students (although I deliberately do my best to use a variety of methods with my students), and these updates look great to me!  What do you think?

Forum Q&A's, improving as a teacher, Memorization, Performances

Forum Q&A | Memorization for Performances: Required or Optional?

Last week we discussed how to teach legato pedaling to students, and we got a few great responses – click here to check them out!  As always, feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion!

This week, we are considering the topic of memorization.  I’ve seen great discussions about this topic on many websites and forums, and thought we’d explore it here too (hopefully with a different twist)!  Here goes:

First, do you consider memorization to be an integral part of piano playing?  Meaning, would you say that a concert pianist should or must perform by memory?  And do you therefore also require your students to perform by memory, or are you more flexible with your students depending on their goals?  What kind of memorization policy have you found works best for your studio?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credit: hsingy | CC 2.0


As Promised: Master’s Recital Video Recordings

As promised, here are a few selections from my Master’s Recital in January!   I would have loved to be able to post the Gwyneth Walker piece for you to hear, but it is not old enough to be in the public domain yet so posting a recording online would not be legal (if I have my facts straight).  All the clips were edited with iMovie, a free video editing software that comes on all Apple computers.

Click here to view the post with the program notes for each piece.  Enjoy!

Haydn: Sonata No. 52 in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52 L. 62, Allegro.

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