Color Printer Suggestions

wf645_fca-cos-cn_690x460I received an email from a reader over the weekend, asking if I had any suggestions for a color printer.  I bought a new printer about a year ago, so I told her all about that.

I bought an Epson WorkForce 645 about a year ago.  I chose the Epson brand based on the reviews I read on Amazon and elsewhere.  I looked at the technical specs of Epson’s whole line of printers, and ended up choosing the Workforce 645 because it was cheapest printer in their line-up that was designed to be able to print on cardstock (which I like to use when printing flashcards, games, etc.) and can automatically print double-sided (I get confused when I try to do it manually!)  It also has a built-in scanner, which I have found to be very convenient.

I’ve been pretty happy with my printer overall — I’d give it a 4 stars out of 5.  Sometimes, the printer claims there is a paper jam for no reason when it is trying to print double-sided.  And sometimes, when printing a full page of color, there are some patchy, un-even areas.  But overall, it has performed pretty well for me.  The ink is a little pricey IMO, but it is probably no worse than any other brand’s ink.

Do you have a color printer to recommend (or not recommend)?  Please share about it in the comments!

Conferences, Technique, Technology

OhioMTA 2012 Conference (2): Music Performance and Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley

The next session was called: Understanding the Physiology of Music Performance Through Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley.

Kathleen Riley is a pioneer in using technology she refers to as “biofeedback” to monitor movement and muscles in order to help musicians eliminate pain, tension, or discomfort in their shoulders, arms, backs, etc.  She began her session with a quote:

“Technique is the knowledge o the most economical way to produce adequately what the mind conceives artistically.”  – E. Robert Schmitz, from the 1935 book The Capture of Inspiration.

Dr. Riley discussed relaxation and the music — and the fact that although no muscle is ever completely relaxed, there is a resting point.  She discussed that we need to examine how much tension we really need when we play.  How can we release unneeded tension and follow-through on our movements?   Continue reading “OhioMTA 2012 Conference (2): Music Performance and Biofeedback, by Kathleen Riley”

Studio Business, Technology

Business Topics for Piano Teachers

On Friday, I gave a presentation for the local MTNA chapter back in my hometown, the Piano Teachers’ Forum of Grand Rapids.  This association was the first one I joined as an undergraduate music major and piano teacher.  I learned so much from the presentations I attended during those years!  It was so fun to go back this weekend and see some of my colleagues.

The name of my presentation was “Business Sense for the Piano Teacher of the 21st Century.”  Many of the topics I talked about are topics I’ve blogged about too.  Here are a few related blog posts for your enjoyment:

Reviews, Technology

iTalk app Review

iTalk app | Cost: Free (with ads) or Premium version: $1.99 (no ads), for iPhone and iPad.

This app is the perfect solution when recording audio of your or your students’ playing.  In many cases, I record video of my students playing during piano lessons; but sometimes I want only audio, so that I can get better quality or so I can more easily email it.

The iPhone/iPad comes pre-installed with a Voice Memos app, so you might be wondering about the advantages of iTalk.  There are two:

  1. Higher audio quality (AIFF files), and
  2. Convenience (transferring/syncing files).

The quality of the sound recording is far better using iTalk versus the Voice Memos app.  When you open the iTalk app, it allows you to name the recording and then select between Good, Better, or Best recording quality (11.025, 22.05, or 44.10 kHz sample rates).  On the iPhone 4 (and probably 5), there is an auto-noise cancellation feature (so you won’t get as much room noise).  Pushing the big red button starts the recording.  After recording, you can browse your list of recordings, play them back, or email a file.  Continue reading “iTalk app Review”

Music Theory, Reviews, Technology

Review: NoteWorks iPad app & Giveaway

Noteworks – (Links: Free iPhone versionfull iPhone version for $4.99, Free iPad versionfull iPad version for $4.99)  

This app is designed for students to practice identifying notes on the staff and finding the corresponding piano keys.  Noteworks features an adorable little “Munchy” who eats the notes when the student identifies the notes correctly!

Continue reading “Review: NoteWorks iPad app & Giveaway”


Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching

I’ve been enjoying the wonders of my iPod Touch 4g for nearly two years now.  However, recently, my hubby and I upgraded our cell phones to the glorious iPhone 4.  There isn’t really much difference between the two, other than that now I don’t have to carry both a phone and the iPod around with me everywhere (my iPod had my calendar with teaching schedule, so I tried to keep it with me always), and now I can access the internet anywhere I go.

I know many piano teachers are using iPads in their teaching.  The iPhone is no different from the iPad, other than the larger screen and the fact that there are certain apps designed only to work on the iPad (because they require a larger screen).  My hubby has an iPad 1, which he allows me to use occasionally.  Someday, I’ll get my own iPad, but there are too many more urgent things on my studio wishlist right now!  🙂

Here are the most frequent ways I use my iPod/iPhone in my teaching:  Continue reading “Using the iPhone/iPad in Piano Teaching”


Google+ Update

Have any of you been hanging out on Google+ (pronounced “Google plus”) much lately?  (If you aren’t familiar with what Google+ is, check out this post on social networking.)  Google+ hasn’t risen in popularity as quickly as I had hoped.  The features, layout, and user-friendliness of Google+ is so much better than Facebook (IMO).  And yet, everyone seems to still be hanging out on Facebook.

Fortunately, Google+ just announced this week that anyone can create a Google+ page for their business/organization.  Maybe this will help make Google+ a thriving place to be!  I’ve created a page for Color In My Piano which I’d love to have you all join (click here).  Wendy Stevens has also created a page for her ComposeCreate blog, which you can view by clicking here.  If you haven’t added me to your circles yet, I’d love to connect with you.  My profile page is here.

Google+ pages offer a variety of features, including “Hangouts” that allow individuals to group chat (like Skype).  Someday, I’d love to organize LIVE round-table discussions about various piano teaching topics!  Wouldn’t that be fun?!

So, head on over to Google+.  We need more action over there!

Studio Business, Technology

Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More

I’ve been intending to write this post in the “Studio Marketing” series (perhaps the last one) for awhile now, but I was stalling in hopes of being able to include more information about the new Google+ social networking site……I’ll get to that in a moment.  Read on. 🙂

What can Social Networking do for YOU? 

I’ve discussed before about how important it is today to have a website for your business.  It’s important to have an online presence, period.  Utilizing social networking helps built rapport between you and your current & potential customers.  Marketing is promoting your business.  It’s about reaching people where they are.  And it’s about creating an image for your business that people want to identify themselves with.

The good news is that social networking is free.  Yes, you will have to invest a little time to set things up and update things now and then, but I think you will find it a very rewarding activity if you aren’t doing it already!  Continue reading “Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More”

Forum Q&A's, Technology

Forum Q&A | Favorite Piece of Technology

It’s time for a new Forum Q&A!  We haven’t had one for awhile, due to the overtake of the conference posts.  🙂

Last time, we discussed the possibility of offering lessons online via a service such as Skype!  A number of you weighed in your thoughts and opinions — click here to view the comments.  I’m more intrigued than ever with the idea, and am currently experimenting with it with a few individuals.

Today, though, I have a new question!

What is your #1 favorite piece of technology you use in your studio?  It can be anything from a video camera, iPad, computer, digital piano, audio recorder, etc., etc., etc.  

I’ve put mine in the comments already.  I think it will be fun to hear everybody weigh in their thoughts!

Photo Credit: DigaoSPBR | CC 2.0

Composition, Technology

Hear my New Piano!

I promised over a month ago that I would post a video so you could hear my new piano!  I wanted to wait until after I got it tuned, of course, and recently I finally got around to recording something.

In this YouTube video, I’m playing a short piece I composed during undergrad called “Contemplation.”

This is a piece I composed in 2007 during my senior year at Hope College. It was written for an assignment for a Form & Analysis theory course for which we were supposed to compose a piece using the Schenkarian techniques we were studying in class. The structure of this piece is based on a descending line using scale degrees 3-2-1. This descending line is also used on a more micro level as a motive throughout the piece.

In the next video, I am playing a piece that my six-year-old student back in Central Michigan composed before I moved away.  He composed a melody called “Goodbye,” and wanted me to compose the left hand part for it.  I was so touched by his request!   Continue reading “Hear my New Piano!”

Conferences, Technology

NCKP 2011 | (12) PEDxi sessions

If you’ve never heard of the TED talks, please take a moment to check out this link!  According to the “About” page on their website…

“TED is a non-profit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).”

Many of the TED talks are available for free viewing on their website and on YouTube.  The one I linked to above was sent to me by one of my adult students — and it is quite an interesting one that talks about the value of classical music.

The NCKP’s “PEDxi” sessions are inspired by the TED talks.  They are short 25-minute talks that are focused on keyboard pedagogy and technology.

  1. Who Would’ve Thought It Was Possible?  | Lori Frazer gave an inspiring session on how technology has allowed her to bring music and music making to serve the medical and wellness community, including seniors and individuals with special needs.   Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (12) PEDxi sessions”
Conferences, Performances, Technology

NCKP 2011 | (9) Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!

Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!  by Mario Ajero, Shana Kirk, George Litterst, and Stella Sick.  Th @ 2:15pm.

During this session, the presenters told us all about the benefits, feasibility, and equipment needed to broadcast your student recitals live on the internet.

Streaming your student recitals online can allow you to reach distant friends and relatives, publicize your studio, and help find an audience for your niche.

Streaming means you are broadcasting a live video feed online for people to view.  Streaming = one way (but you can reach unlimited amounts of people), while video conferencing = two way conversation (can reach a limited amount of people).  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (9) Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!”