Announcements, Group Classes, Motivation, Music Camps

A Peek into the Incentive Program Prize Box

Here’s a peek into the prize box I use for my incentive program.  In case you haven’t read about my incentive program before, here’s the lowdown:  I create an index card for each student, and when they pass a song, they are given a point/sticker for every page of the song learned.  They can also earn points/stickers for doing theory worksheets, memorizing their pieces, etc.  When they earn 25 points/stickers on their index card, they are allowed to choose a prize from the prize box.

I recently restocked the prize box with some cute new items.  Take a look!

The purple prize box.

It’s decorated with some cute music stickers!

Continue reading “A Peek into the Incentive Program Prize Box”

Teaching Piano

Fun tip

Today I just thought I’d share a fun little tip I learned from one of my students this week!  Yes, you read that right: she taught me.  =)  She is a young beginner student, just learning how to read music on the staff.  She informed me that she came up with a way for remembering the note “D” (the one just above Middle C): D is the note that Dangles from the staff.  Clever!  I was so proud of her.  That is a little trick that I will definitely be sharing with my other beginner students.

Announcements, Games, Giveaways, Group Classes, Music Camps, Teaching Piano

May 2010 Free Giveaway: Drawing Music Symbols Boards

I am excited to announce the first ever free giveaway on the Color In My Piano blog!  *drumroll…*

THREE lucky winners will each be mailed a pair of laminated boards for learning and drawing music symbols.  (You may recall when I blogged about these boards here. I am keeping my set, of course, but I went back to buy more to share with you!)  These boards have a lot of potential for team games at group lessons or summer piano camps, or can simply be used during the private lesson.  They are two-sided — one side shows the symbols and their names, and the other side lists the names but leaves a blank staff for the student to draw the symbol.  Both sides are laminated to allow use with a dry-erase marker.

Unfortunately, because the prize is such a odd-shaped object and is expensive to ship, this giveaway is limited to readers from the continental U.S. only.

To enter: Continue reading “May 2010 Free Giveaway: Drawing Music Symbols Boards”

improving as a teacher, Resources, Technology

Readers, Introduce Yourself! …on the Color In My Piano facebook page

Get to know the other readers on this blog – please take a moment to introduce yourself on the discussion page of the Color In My Piano facebook page!  There are a few introductions there now, and I’d love to get to know more of you.

To receive blog updates right in your facebook newsfeed, click the “like” button on the facebook page.  It’s a very easy and convenient way to stay updated.  Please give it a try!

Performances, Printables

Piano Recital Program Template #1


Today’s free printable is a template of a piano studio recital program, for listing students’ names and pieces.

Just download this Microsoft Word file (.doc), and fill in your students’ information and print!

Click here to view it larger (uneditable).

To download it the .doc file, visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Piano Recital Program Template #1“.

Feel free to edit the document in any way you desire to suite your needs.


Also see: Piano Recital Program Template #2

Composition, Resources

Decorate Your Studio Idea: Bach Invention Manuscripts

I just discovered these manuscript copies of Bach’s 2-part inventions over at the IMSLP’s Petrucci Music Library.  I always find free pdfs of music scores that I need on their site, but I never realized that they also have pdfs of some hand-written manuscript copies to download as well!  Although this is not Bach’s handwriting, but it is still a remarkable part of history — and looks really cool.  According to the site, this manuscript copy dates from around the 1790s.  Can you imagine having to copy music by hand?  What an art!

While I was so captivated by this manuscript copy, it occurred to me that printing some of these sheets off on acrylic print paper and then framing them would be a great way to decorate the walls of a piano studio!  I think students would really enjoy admiring the hand-written manuscripts, especially if they were working on the same piece.

To download:

Click this link to visit the Bach inventions page.  Scroll down until you see the download with the editor listed as “Peter Gronland” and says “Undated manuscript copy, 1790?”.  As always, be sure to carefully follow the site’s copyright restrictions for your country (in the US, basically all works published before 1923 are in the public domain).

improving as a teacher, Technology

So you want to start a blog?

Today, I thought I’d share a little bit about my experiences as a blogger.  I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but I would like to share what I have learned over the past year!

Considerations before starting your own blog:

  • Determine your audience. Who are you writing for — your students?  fellow piano teachers?  Music teachers in general?  Stay focused on one target audience, rather than trying to combine. Find your niche and start generating ideas for what to blog about.
  • Choose a focus/goal. What kind of topics would you like to cover?  What do you hope your readers will gain from your blog? Brainstorm ideas for blogging for the long term.
  • Think long-term. What are your goals in having a blog?  How long do you see yourself blogging?

Tips for successful blogging:

  • Post original content. While it’s great  to share links to great sites and blogs where you’ve found great resources, you don’t want to be constantly directing your readers away from your site.  Posting original content is what will keep them coming back!
  • Keep yourself on a schedule. How often do you plan to post on your blog?  Every day?  Once a week?  Think realistically, make a plan, and stick to it.
  • Keep an “ideas” notebook. Are you bursting with ideas for blog posts?  Capture all your ideas on paper, before you forget them!  Later on, you can return to this list and continue blogging even when inspiration is low. Continue reading “So you want to start a blog?”
improving as a teacher, Motivation, Music Camps, Performances

30 Theme Ideas for Music Studio Events

Here’s a list of 30 theme ideas for music studio events!  Themes can be used as the studio theme for the school year, or for summer music camps, or for studio recitals. If used for the studio theme for the whole year, there are a number of ways the theme can be incorporated: the incentive program, group lesson activities, worksheets, games, food, decorations, dress, recital repertoire, etc., can all be coordinated to fit the theme.

  1. Medieval Times | castles, knights, princesses
  2. Fantasy | same as above, plus dragons, wizards, etc.
  3. Mystery |detective, private eye, clues, magnifying glass, footprints, fingerprints, evidence
  4. International / Around the World | choose a specific country, or give a survey of a few different countries  (Egypt, Africa, etc.) world music, cultures. For example……
  5. Fiesta | sombrero, maracas, dances
  6. Tropical | surfing, luau, grass skirts, steel drums, Caribbean/Hawaiian music, palm trees
  7. Winter | snow, icicles, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, cold, mittens, scarves, snowmen
  8. Carnival / Circus | ringmaster, tightrope walker, elephant, tickets
  9. Art | colors, brushes, make connections between art and music. Activity: compose songs named after colors.
  10. Roller coster park | use this theme to study musical forms (e.g., ABA), or musical styles.
  11. Animal Planet | animals galore!  Activity: try matching animal characteristics to how different music sounds.
  12. The Great Outdoors / camping | campfire, singing, woods, lantern
  13. Under the Sea | ocean, waves, fish, jellyfish, dolphins, sharks, seaweed, treasure, sunken ship, scuba diver
  14. Barnyard | farm, farmer, animals, fields, crops, harvest, tractors, seeds
  15. Construction | bulldozers, dump trucks, CAUTION tape, hard hats, orange cones, STOP, GO, workers
  16. Jungle Safari | lions, giraffes, jeep, binoculars
  17. Wild West | cowboys, saloon, ghost town, cowboy hats/boots, bandanas, sheriff, horses, saddles, lasso
  18. Pirates | pirate ship, pirates, buried treasure, treasure maps, scavenger hunt
  19. Desert Oasis | cockroaches, oasis, palm trees, sand
  20. Olympic Games | fitness, games, exercise, practice
  21. Going Green | recycle, be efficient (with practice time)
  22. Splish Splash | water bottles, droplets, river, brook, ocean, puddle, rain, hydration, summer, squirt guns, pool
  23. Outer Space | stars, moon, sun, rocket ships, astronauts, aliens, ufo’s.  Natalie is doing a space theme in her studio this year and it looks fabulous!
  24. Futuristic / Time Travel | contemporary music, technology in music
  25. Race cars | finish line, car, tires, gasoline, checkered flag, trophy.  Activity: do timed worksheets for naming note on the staff.
  26. USA / Patriotic / Stars & Stripes | USA history, fireworks, wear red, white, and blue, or wear stars/stripes! Activity: learn about American composers.
  27. The magic of music | magician, magic tricks, deck of cards, top hat, magic wand, rabbit, gloves. Activity: discuss how music has the power to affect your emotions, change your mood, influence you to do something, etc.
  28. Blast from the Past | choose an era of music history: Classical, Romantic, Baroque, etc.  Dress old-fashioned, eat popular treats from back then, etc.
  29. The Great Composers | choose a specific set of composers, and focus on one each day/week/month.
  30. Musical Instruments | learn about the parts of the piano, or the instruments of the orchestra.  Discuss timbre, register, range, tuning, etc.

Please share any additional ideas you have, or any resources you’ve found to be helpful for planning a themed event for your music studio!

Photo credit: / CC BY 2.0
Announcements, improving as a teacher, repertoire / methods

Organizing your Music Books

DSC_20090831_6801How do your organize your library of music books?  About a month ago, I purchased a new bookshelf (see photo) for my music, because most of my books were still in boxes with no place to go since our move to our new apartment.  In just a few hours, I managed to re-organize all my music books, and I’m proud to say I can actually find stuff I’m looking for when I need it!

Here’s how I organize my books:

I divide my music into two major categories:

  1. Student-level repertoire
  2. Advanced repertoire

Within the above categories, I divide my books further into the following categories:

  • Sheet music — organized by level (e.g., early elementary, late intermediate, etc.).
  • Classical music — alphabetized by composer last name.
  • Classical Anthologies — books that contain pieces by a number of different composers.  When possible, I organize these books chronologically (i.e., by music period).
  • Sacred music — books of hymn arrangements.

I also have a few other categories:

  • Method Books — such as Alfred, Faber, etc., organized by method series and then by level.
  • Technique — such as Finger Power, Dozen A Day, Hanon exercises, etc.
  • Theory — such as Notespellers, books of theory worksheets, etc.

How do you organize your music library?

Printables, Studio Business

Make Business Cards for Your Music Studio

Having business cards on hand is a convenient and professional way to give your contact information to potential students and their parents.  Here’s a simple, clean template for making your own business cards for your music studio!

Printables > Studio Business > Business Cards Template for Music Teachers

This template is a Microsoft Word (.doc) file, containing a page of 10 business cards, which you can edit to fill in with your name and contact information.  Then all you have to do is print them onto card-stock or other professional-looking paper and cut them apart.  Have fun!

improving as a teacher, Resources

6 Ways for Teachers to Stay Current

Although many of us teachers are no longer in college, I think it’s safe to say that we all want to stay connected with other teachers/musicians and continue to improve and grow both as teachers and musicians.  Here are six ways to do just that:

  1. Stay in touch with any previous teachers or professors you may have had in the past.  Email is a great means to do so, as well as Facebook (it’s not just for the young folks anymore!).  Ask questions or ask for suggestions, and exchange teaching ideas.  You can never have too many resources.  It’s important to keep past contacts fresh.
  2. Join a formal organization such as MTNA or Piano Guild.  By attending meetings and entering students in their events, you will invariably meet new fellow teachers and make new friends.  In addition, by attending lectures, you will be furthering your education as a teacher/musician.
  3. Join forces with fellow piano teachers in your area and hold a summer piano camp or a Christmas Party/Recital together.  Be sure to keep it fun and non-competitive, and never try to “steal” students from another teacher.
  4. Subscribe to blogs of other piano teachers.  There are thousands of other teachers out there just like you, with ideas and resources to share with you.  The internet holds a wealth of information just waiting to be found.  Once you find a few sites you’d like to regularly follow, subscribe to their sites via email (you’ll receive an email each day that they post new content) or via a feed reader.  A feed reader is a free service that allows you to read the latest content of all your favorite blogs all in one place.
  5. Start your own blog (separate from your studio website).  Share your ideas and expertise with other teachers by posting articles about various topics and putting up any worksheets or other materials you have made in the past. Both and allow you to make and maintain a blog for free.  (If you want your own domain name, you will have to buy one, however.)
  6. Participate in online forums. There are a number of sites that have forums, such as the Piano Club Forum on the Fabers’ website.  In addition, you can join a Yahoo group such as piano_teacher_support and talk with other piano teachers about any topic under the sun.

Do you have other ways you stay connected?  Let us know by sharing below!

Professional Development

New Nat’l Music Achievement Program in the US?

I recently heard that Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School are considering the possibility of implementing a National Music Achievement Program in the US.  Here’s the lowdown:

The program would include the following characteristics:

  • Students would be evaluated by regional, reputable adjudicators using a pre-defined syllabus and repertoire list
  • Evaluations would be available several times per year in each area
  • Evaluations would be based on instrument performance
  • The evaluation would consist of 8 different performance levels, from beginner to advanced students
  • Students would receive a numeric score at the end of the evaluation
  • Students would be able to access their ranking in relation to other students across the country

The achievement program aims to benefit students and teachers in several ways, including:


  • Offer teachers materials to support their instruction
  • Help teachers track the development of their students
  • Enable students to understand their skill level on a national scale and gain recognition for passing each grade level
  • Motivate students to continue studying music by offering clear development goals

It is an interesting idea to consider.  I wonder if it will be similar to the National Certificate Program (based on the curriculum of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada)?  It sounds similar in some ways.  I’m not completely convinced that we need another National Achievement Program, but I do like that fact that this one would be “American made.”  My hope is that it will be something easily affordable for all students, and available for students in suburban and rural areas as well as urban.

To participate in the survey that Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School are conducting about this possible achievement program, click here.  (The above information was quoted from the survey.)

(via Music Matters Blog)