Announcements, seasonal / holiday

Announcing… The 12 Days of Christmas Project: A Collaborative Video Kit

Perhaps of you might recall that last year, I blogged about my students’ collaboration to create a special video as the “grand finale” of our 2020 Countdown to the New Year project. It was our own special take on The 12 Days of Christmas (click to watch)!

Continue reading “Announcing… The 12 Days of Christmas Project: A Collaborative Video Kit”
Studio Business

Q: Who buys the music books — teacher or student?

Today’s blog post topic comes to you as a result of a question submitted by a reader. The question I received was essentially: How do you go about acquiring music books for piano students and managing the reimbursement/expense?

While there is no single “best” way to do business, there are certainly a number of good options to consider in order to find a procedure that works best for you and your clients. In this blog post, we’ll explore a handful of possible procedures and discuss their potential downsides and upsides.

4 Main Options for Acquiring Music Books and Managing the Expense

As I see it, here are the main options for self-employed music teachers:

  1. You can ask students/parents to purchase their own sheet music.
  2. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and then collect reimbursement afterwards.
  3. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and cover the expense yourself via a special books/material/registration fee.
  4. You can purchase sheet music on behalf of your students and cover the expense as part of the tuition fee charged for piano lessons.

Let’s discuss each option in more depth.

Continue reading “Q: Who buys the music books — teacher or student?”
Reviews

REVIEW: Carol Matz’s Christmas Music for Piano Students

Are you familiar with Carol Matz and her Interactive Piano Method?

Carol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method is unique for providing a corresponding, interactive online experience for students alongside their printed lesson books. If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about her method here on her website.

But in today’s blog post, I’d like to focus on Carol’s Christmas arrangements. After all, it’s that time of year when many of us are prepping Christmas music for our students!

Around this time last year, I purchased Carol’s Christmas Deluxe Collection, a bundle of 15 studio-licensed pieces. And let me tell you, it was such a lifesaver! It was exactly what I needed at the time, especially given that I was still teaching entirely online at that point. More on this collection later, below.

When I recently found out that Carol was getting ready to release a couple of new bundles this year, I reached out to her to collaborate for this blog post and give you the full scoop. 🙂 In this review, I’ll give you an overview of all of Carol’s Christmas music offerings as well as a limited-time promo code just for Color In My Piano readers. Read on.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Carol Matz’s Christmas Music for Piano Students”
Sheet Music

NEW SHEET MUSIC: Where the Train Tracks End

Hi there!

I’m pleased to announce that a new piano piece is now available in my shop! If you’re looking for something jazzy and fun for mid-intermediate level students, you might be interested in checking out this piece.

It’s called Where the Train Tracks End. This piece is in rondo form (ABACA) and the key of B minor. It opens with finger snaps over a descending bass line, which leads into the syncopation and laidback vibe of the main theme. The B section consists of flashy-sounding patterns that race up the piano, while the C section is upbeat with a walking bass line. There is an opportunity to improvise towards the end of the piece. This three-page piece is perfect for recitals as well as for personal pleasure.

Watch the video to take a listen!

I composed this piece a few years back as part of a “Pedagogical Commissioning Project” organized by my Ohio-based colleague, Andy Villemez. The project brings working composers in direct conversation with music teachers and their students. Each student is paired with a composer who writes a piece based on the student’s current technical and musical abilities, personality, and interests. I wrote the piece Where the Train Tracks End specifically for a student named Brielle in Durham, NC.

Interested in purchasing the sheet music? It’s available in my shop as a PDF download. There are both Single User and Studio License options available, both of which come with an MP3 audio recording. View Where the Train Tracks End in my shop here. I hope it’s a piece your students would enjoy!

Continue reading “NEW SHEET MUSIC: Where the Train Tracks End”
Sheet Music

Just Released: “Grace”, a Late-Intermediate Solo

Today, I’m pleased to share with you a piece of music called Grace that I composed some years ago, as an undergraduate student.

My first two years of college studies were spent as a piano performance major at Grand Rapids Community College, near my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have such good memories of my time there. It was a time of great growth for me, both personally and as a musician. I was meeting and making friends with people wonderfully different from those in the “bubble” I had grown up in up to that point. I adored my piano professor. And I felt like my musical senses were becoming more alive every day, thanks to the Aural Comprehension and Music Theory classes I was taking. I was experiencing immersion in a vibrant, diverse, and musical environment.

Continue reading “Just Released: “Grace”, a Late-Intermediate Solo”
seasonal / holiday

Sheet Music Christmas Ornament — Gift Idea for Piano Students

Christmas is nearing! Today, I’m busy making sheet music ornaments as gifts for my piano students.

I found this idea from this blogger, thanks to Pinterest. Here’s my own take on this sheet music ornament idea.

Materials:

  • Old sheet music paper
  • Jute twine
  • Black pony beads
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher
  • Ruler

For each ornament, I cut 12 pieces of sheet music into strips measuring 1 inch x 6.5 inches, and then punched holes at each end of the paper. I cut a length of 30 inches of jute twine, folded it in half, knotted it to create a loop, and added beads and knots at various places along with the sheet music (as described in the video). The last step is to gently pull apart the paper around to form a circular shape. I love how it turned out!

There are many ways to vary the ornament: perhaps cutting smaller strips of sheet music, cutting the paper with fancy-edged scissors, using a different type of bead, etc.

Thanks for reading.

Reviews

Sheet Music Review: Madge’s Notebook by Rebekah Maxner

MadgeCoverPromoThis summer, Canadian composer Rebekah Maxner has released a new book, “Madge’s Notebook: A Piano Tribute to The Hunger Games.”  When Rebekah emailed me to ask if I’d be willing to review her book, I told her I wasn’t sure if she would want me to review it since I have not yet read the popular “Hunger Games” books.  (I know, am I out-of-the-loop or what?)  🙂  She replied that she nonetheless would like to me to review the books — after all, the music should be able to stand on its own.  I’m glad Rebekah felt that way, because I enjoyed checking out her music!

“Madge’s Notebook” is intended to be a book of music that will appeal to intermediate students — in particular, tweens, teens, and adults.  Rebekah states that the purpose of the book is to meet today’s piano students where they are and to use their interest in book literature to foster interest in piano literature.

This book is one that Rebekah imagines the characters from “The Hunger Games” would have on their piano.  The passage in “The Hunger Games” series that inspired Madge’s Notebook is found in the second book of the series, “Catching Fire.”

“Madge’s Notebook” is 28 pages long and contains 11 pieces.  The Table of Contents divides the pieces into three sections: (1) Folk Music of District 12, (2) Classics from a Time before Panem, and (3) Piano Music by Madge for Katniss.

Many of the pieces are original compositions, but there are also some interesting pieces inspired by famous piano pieces.  Although at first I thought they might be “simplified arrangements,” I think it is more suitable to think of the pieces as “inspired by” famous piano works.  The pieces seem to evoke the original classical work, rather than exist merely as a simplified version.  Very creative!   Continue reading “Sheet Music Review: Madge’s Notebook by Rebekah Maxner”

seasonal / holiday

James Koerts’ Free Arrangement of “Joy To The World”

This weekend, my students and I are preparing to play Christmas pieces at a local church’s “Come To The Stable” event.  I reserved an hour on Thursday and Saturday when we are going to play (I will fill whatever time my students don’t use).  Our music will serve as the background music as people come and go (open-house style) to admire a beautiful display of nativity sets.

In preparation, I’ve been practicing all my favorite Christmas arrangements – and learning a few new ones, too.  I discovered a wonderful free arrangement of “Joy To The World” on James Koerts’ website — take a listen below, and then click here and scroll down to download it yourself!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bFXRNDKNH4

seasonal / holiday

Time for Christmas Music

I am preparing to pass out Christmas music to my students to this week!  It still seems early to me, but my students have a performance opportunity in early December — so I thought we better get rolling on that Christmas music!

I’ve updated my post from two years ago “List of Free Christmas Arrangements on the Web” to include a few new links and some resources for lead sheets.  The holiday season seems like the perfect time to focus on chord playing, because of the wealth of familiar Christmas tunes students know!

Let me know if you know of more links to add to that post!

Reviews

Review: Sheet Music by Elena Cobb

Elena Cobb is a piano teacher and composer in the UK (but originally from Russia) who writes music in various popular musical styles, including blues, Latin, and jazz.  She has music books available intended for both young students and intermediate to advanced students.  You can read more about Elena’s teaching approach and goals behind her pedagogical music here.

Elena asked me to review a couple of her books, which you can read about below!  Continue reading “Review: Sheet Music by Elena Cobb”

Resources

Sheet Music Washer Necklaces

Remember back when I did a giveaway in March for this sheet music necklace?

Some of you asked about how I made those necklaces.  Well, I got the idea from a photo I saw on pinterest a long time ago.  I was planning to make a nice tutorial post about how to do it, but now I don’t have to — because yesterday I found a great tutorial that shows all the steps!  🙂  I made my washers double-sided, and used vintage sheet music on one side.  What you see in the photo above is from an ancient Shirmer’s edition of Bach Inventions.

Happy crafting!  🙂

Forum Q&A's, repertoire / methods, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A | Obtaining Student Materials & Reimbursement

I forgot to put up the week’s new Forum Q&A post yesterday, so here it is a day late!  Sorry about that…I think the term paper for my music history class is draining all my brain cells.  =D

It was so fun to read the variety of approaches teachers use when it comes to summer lessons for last week’s Forum Q&A!  I hope you had as much fun reading about them as I did.  I just added my own comment which describes a new method I’m going to try next summer (2012), so please check it out and let me know what you think.

This week, though, we are going to discuss methods of obtaining and getting reimbursed for student materials!  I’m curious to know….

First of all:  Do you tell students to go purchase the new books/materials they need, or do you go and get them yourself?

Secondly, if you purchase them yourself, how do you go about getting reimbursement?  Is the cost of books/materials covered in your tuition rate?  Or do you charge a yearly or semesterly fee to cover books and materials?  Or do you add the cost of the books to that month’s invoice for tuition?

I’m trying to decide how to go about dealing with getting books when I start my independent studio in the fall, so I’d love to hear what method works for you!

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks | CC 2.0