Playing my Trick-or-Treat Rhythm Game with my 3-Year-Old

As promised in my last post, today I’m sharing a recent short video of my daughter, Aria, and I playing my Trick-or-Treat rhythm game. In fact, we took this video clip earlier today!

I’ve been playing this game with Aria daily for the past two weeks or so. I don’t ask Aria to read the rhythms on the cards, as I might with my older students. She’s three-and-a-half years of age, and my priorities are on developing her ear and musical understanding of that which she hears (i.e., audiation).

So, instead we use a variation of the game where the teacher reads and performs the rhythm pattern, and the student echoes it back. This is a valuable activity not just for young students, but for any student especially as they encounter new rhythm elements. (Read more about how I use this game with my students here.)

Anyway, please enjoy this short video and my time-stamped notes below. I hope you get some new ideas or inspiration from watching our interaction!

Continue reading “Playing my Trick-or-Treat Rhythm Game with my 3-Year-Old”
Performances, Technology, Videos

Tutorial: Combining Videos to Create an “Piano Duet” Video

Back in May, I shared about how I organized a virtual recital for my students. In that post, I briefly mentioned how I combined two videos to create “duet” videos for a couple of my students. Today, I’d like to share how I accomplished this “duet” video magic, so you can try it for yourself if you’d like!

First of all, here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In this video, you’ll see a beginner student playing the rote piece “I Love Coffee” (from the Shaaks and of Piano Safari method fame), accompanied by me playing the teacher duet.

Below, I will share the steps for how to create and combine a student video and a teacher video to create a “piano duet” video. This technique is similar to that used by many YouTube musicians — you’ve probably seen the type. Even if you already know how to do this, I hope perhaps you’ll gain at least a helpful tip or two from this post!

Step 1: Acquire Student Video

The basic process is that one person records their video first, so that the other person can use it as a guide (using earbuds) while recording the second video. The first person’s video determines the tempo throughout the piece, which the second person must follow and match.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Combining Videos to Create an “Piano Duet” Video”
Professional Development, repertoire / methods, Retreat

Video: Let’s Talk about John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers To Play”

Hi there!

Earlier today, I went live on Facebook to talk about one of my favorite old piano method books: the classic John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano. I have to admit certain bias for the “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” book. It was my first piano book when I was all of age 5. 🙂

Here is the Facebook Live video.

Here is what’s covered in the video:

  • 0:50  Get a peek inside an OLD copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers To Play” book by John Thompson.
  • 2:10  Why I like using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book sometimes today as a supplement.
  • 3:05  Get a peek inside a NEW copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book. The illustrations have been updated, but the version is otherwise pretty true to the original.
  • 3:35  How to address one of the potential pitfalls of using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book: the overabundance of finger numbers.
  • 4:47  How John Thompson was ahead of his time as a pedagogue. Or, perhaps there is really just “nothing new under the sun.” 🙂 Hint: See the note on the cover of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book.
  • 7:04  Learn more about other music and resources John Thompson authored.

Questions for you: Have you ever used the John Thompson series? What do you appreciate about it?

Thanks for watching!

P.S.: Why am I looking through old piano method books? It’s because I’m in the midst of preparations for Retreat at Piano Manor which I will be hosting later this summer, August 17-19, 2017! During the retreat, we will be looking through piano method books from across the decades, uncovering pedagogical wisdom relevant for us today. Registration is now open and a few teachers have already registered. Be sure to watch the facebook page and here on the blog for future videos about piano methods.


Monday Broadcast: Eye Gaze During Piano Playing

003 Eye Gaze During Piano PlayingGreetings! During today’s live broadcast via Periscope, we discussed the role of the direction of our gaze during piano playing, and what strategies we can use with our students to help them use their eyes to become better sight-readers, memorizers, and more. Please enjoy watching the video conversation below.

By the way, there was a bit of a tech fluke today: Periscope was showing that there were zero live viewers and did not show any of your comments — so I didn’t ask some of the interactive questions I was hoping to ask during the talk! I apologize to those watching live from Periscope today for not being very interactive and for not responding to your comments. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue again. 🙂

All past broadcasts are here: To watch future broadcasts live, download the free Periscope app (for iOS or Android), search for @joymorinpiano, and hop online on Mondays at noon Eastern time. Hope to see you next time!

Do you have suggestions about what we could discuss in future Periscopes? Please submit your ideas by clicking here. I appreciate your input!

repertoire / methods

Video: Elena Cobb’s Higgledy Piggledy Jazz

Isn’t it great when you find just the right music, for just the right student, at just the right time?

Back when I first reviewed Elena Cobb’s music in 2012, I had mostly beginner students in my studio having recently relocated to Ohio. Recently, I was pleased to have the opportunity to give Elena’s book of jazz-inspired early intermediate pieces, called Higgledy Piggledy Jazz, to my student, Emma.  Emma has really gone to town with this book — she loves the pieces and loves playing along with the backing tracks on the accompanying CD.

I asked Emma if she would like to take a video to share with the composer and she was thrilled with the idea.  I hope you enjoy Emma’s little wink at the beginning of the video…it pretty well shows her personality!

Check out the rest of the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book at Elena’s website.

[Note: Emma and I are still working on being able to play those fast triplets loosely and easily. It’s a work in progress!]


NCKP 2011 | (3) Viable Video, by Pete Jutras

Here’s some notes from another session during the pre-conference seminar track “Student & Young Professionals:”

Viable Video: Basic Principles of an Effective Portfolio, by Pete Jutras.  W @ 4:00pm

Dr. Jutras divided his session into two sections: Content & Technique.


Some tips:

  • The quality of the teaching shown in the video trumps all.  Video editing does NOT mask: a lack of planning, poor communication, failure to diagnose problems, or poor sequencing of pieces.
  • When applying for a job, the kind of teaching videos taken for college pedagogy classes are generally not sufficient.  Those are equivalent to a “rough draft” or a “practice session,” while the video submitted to a job should be a well-polished video — the equivalent to a “recital performance.”  Practice teaching in front of the camera for many weeks before you start collecting for the real thing.  Then showcase your best moments.
  • When possible, tailor your video portfolio specifically to the job description and to your personal strengths as a teacher.  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (3) Viable Video, by Pete Jutras”
Conferences, Professional Development

NCKP 2011 | (2) Developing from Student to Professional (Panel Discussion)

After attending the mass Keynote Address, I headed to the sessions for the pre-conference track called, “Students and Young Professionals.”  It began with a panel discussion moderated by Martha Hilley.

Developing from Student to Professional: A Practical Overview, moderated by Martha Hilley.

The were 4 contributors, who each spoke on a topic.

1. Practical Networking: I know why, when, and where — now tell me how, by Courtney Crappell.

Dr. Crappell discussed practical networking.  The key to successful networking is to be genuinely interested in other people!  We sometimes tend to be self-centered, especially in places with new people like conferences.

Another key to successful networking is in the preparation.  This requires some thought in advance: how do you want to market yourself?  Create an elevator pitch that talkes about your goal as a piano teacher.  It should be something short but intriguing that could start a conversation.  An elevator speech contains a problem, solution, and a personal role.

Presentation is also important, but perhaps even more so is the follow-through.  Make sure you have business cards with you at all times so you can easily exchange information with others.  As you meet new people, you can even write things on their business cards afterwards to help you remember who’s who.  And send people an email after you meet them.  You never know what kind of opportunities may arise in the future just from having some connections with other people.  Networking is important!  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (2) Developing from Student to Professional (Panel Discussion)”