repertoire / methods

A Fun Memory and a Great Rote/Halloween Piece for Piano Students

Today, I have a story to share and a recommendation for a fun piece of music for Halloween or anytime!

A few years ago while sifting through a box of old music given to me by a retiring teacher, I came across a piece of sheet music with a distinctive cover I recognized. It was a piano solo called “Big Foot” by Kevin E. Cray and published by Schaum Publications. “Big Foot” was a piece I remembered my younger brother playing back when we were growing up. It was a piece he LOVED and played constantly, especially once he could play it from memory. The piece became a family favorite, one that we would often request he play.

Rediscovering this piece and recalling those memories caused me to want to teach “Bigfoot”! Upon searching online, I was unable to find the sheet music available. So, I assumed it must have gone out of print. I scrounged around through my music library and was able to find the original sheet music my brother used. I felt lucky to have my own personal copy to keep as well as the newly acquired sheet to give to a student.

Continue reading “A Fun Memory and a Great Rote/Halloween Piece for Piano Students”
Reviews, Technology

Review & Giveaway: Note Rush app

13246163_248194038873284_8983692676277542062_oToday, I am so excited to introduce to you a brand new app for music teachers called Note Rush. As I have been experimenting with this app during beta testing, I soon discovered just what a useful tool this app is for my students. Note Rush has become my favorite app for piano teaching.

Note Rush is a note reading app that is simple, intuitive, and fun. Unlike other note identification apps that present a note and require the user to name the note by letter name, Note Rush “listens” using the iPad’s microphone to identify whether the user is playing the correct piano key. It’s so important for students to learn to associate staff positions with the corresponding piano key in the correct octave, and Note Rush encourages this!


The app automatically calibrates to the piano, allowing the app to be useable even if the piano may be slightly out-of-tune.


Allowing you to choose from a variety of levels — covering various ranges of notes in treble clef, bass clef, or the entire grand staff — the app is customizable to the user’s ability.


Because the rounds are timed, students are invited to repeat the rounds to try to improve their times.


The three themes appeal to a wide range of students while not creating a distraction through too many options.

Note Rush collage

Tell your students to buy this app instead of a box of flashcards. Note Rush is available in the Apple App Store for $3.99 USD. Find it for Android here. Be sure to visit the Note Rush website and like their facebook page.

Note: I bought this app. As always, my reviews contain my honest opinion.

The Note Rush developer has kindly offered two promo codes for a giveaway! For a chance to win a free download of Note Rush, leave a comment below before Tuesday, June 28 at midnight (Eastern time) sharing your favorite aspect of Note Rush. Two winners will be randomly chosen and contacted the following day.

Reviews, Technology

Review: Oontz Angle Bluetooth Speaker

For Christmas, my husband gave me this handy little speaker: the Oontz Angle Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.


In the past, I always plugged a pair of old computer speakers into my iPhone, iPad Mini, or computer when I wanted to play music during lessons, group classes, or while cleaning the house.  🙂  They worked okay, but I found that if I turned the sound up too loud, the sound became distorted.

I am so pleased with this handy little speaker because I can turn the sound as loud as I need too without hearing distortion.  I’m very pleased with the quality of the speaker!


And, of course, it is handy that it is wireless.  It connects via a bluetooth connection.  Pairing the speakers to a device only takes a minute.  Plus, it remembers what device you paired it with last and will automatically connect to that same device if both are turned on.  I’ve owned bluetooth devices in the past and they did not connect this easily.  Technology has certainly improved.

It comes with a USB cable so that you can recharge the battery by plugging it into your computer.  The battery can last for up to 10 hours of playing time.

Just thought I’d share about this fun little gadget!  Did you receive any Christmas gifts that have been useful for piano teaching?  If so, please share about it in the comments!

repertoire / methods, Reviews

Review: The Music of Jon George

Having lived in my town for just over 2 years now, my studio is comprised mostly of beginner and elementary level students.  A few months ago, I felt that a handful of my beginners were ready for some early elementary level supplemental books — things that would get them moving around the keyboard more and help prevent them from becoming too “method-ized.”  (You know what I mean, right?  I don’t like my students to become overly Faber-ized, Alfred-ized, Bastien-ized, or whatever).  🙂

Two years ago at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, I attended an Exhibitor Session for Willis Music led by Glenda Austin.  Most of the session was about composer William Gillock (no longer living) and his wonderful compositions for students.  I remember that Glenda introduced the session by stating that many experienced teachers are well aware of Gillock’s extensive output of music for students, but that many younger teachers might not be familiar with his music.  I enjoyed that session so much — it was great to learn more about Gillock and his music that has stood the test of time.

Jon George is another composer who has left behind a huge output of wonderful pieces for students.  While I am relatively new to his music, no doubt many of you have made great use of Jon George’s music over the years!  A few months ago, I decided to order a few of Jon George’s early- and mid- elementary level books to use with my students.  I’m so glad I did, because I am thrilled with what I found!

3507673Kaleidoscope Solos – Book 1, by Jon George

Early Elementary.

I love this book.  It is very difficult to find such good writing for beginner students.  This book contains some of the best writing for the early elementary level that I have ever encountered.

The pieces in this book require students to play with their hands starting at different places on the keyboard, which helps prevent students from getting “locked” into positions such as the Middle C position.

As a teacher, I do my best to encourage students to shape phrases and play musically even when they are beginners and these pieces make it easy to do so!  These melodic pieces are inspiring to students and appealing to the ear.  The student of mine who received this book is thriving with these pieces.  I will be utilizing this series much more in the future.

There are 4 more books available in this series, progressing to an intermediate level.   Continue reading “Review: The Music of Jon George”


Review: Halloween Sheet Music from Wendy Stevens

00121883Wendy Stevens from has some published great new Halloween pieces through Willis Music that you may want to consider for your students this Fall, especially if you are holding a Halloween recital this year.

I don’t know about your students, but my students love pieces where they can tap, knock, snap, etc. during pieces.  In this Early Elementary level piece called “The Candy Nabber,” students get to knock on the fallboard during the piece.  It also has an optional teacher accompaniment.

Watch the video here:


Click here to view an excerpt of the score on Hal Leonard’s site.

In another Early Elementary solo by Wendy called “A Scream on Halloween,” students get to play a cluster of high, white keys to represent a scream.

Check out this video of Wendy playing her composition:

Click here to view an excerpt of the score on Hal Leonard’s site.

Both of these pieces are great sounding, well-written piano pieces that students will love to learn.  Bravo, Wendy!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these two pieces for review, but my reviews are honest as always!