Reflections of sky, cliffs & trees on the water of a still creek.

Have You Ever…?

Empathy is a valuable ability for us to develop, and I believe making music and empathy are related. At its most basic empathy is being able to feel what another is feeling. Often, we don’t really have it unless we have experienced the same thing or something close to what another is going through. We might know that a mother whose son was killed in

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How Do You Judge Success?

I have had students place first in competitive contests. I’ve had students earn the highest rating of Superior Plus in Piano Guild auditions playing a National program of 10 memorized pieces. I’ve had many students make a perfect score on the TMTA Theory Test and the TMTA World of Music Test. Finally, I’ve had students perform perfectly in recitals and for recordings. In all of these cases,

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Detective Work

Names in this post have been changed to preserve the privacy of those involved.  John is a great student. He’s had the benefit of growing up in a house with older siblings who had been studying piano since before he was born. He’s exceptionally bright. With most young kids, I have to lead them to seeing patterns in music. Even at 5, though, John would

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When Hard is Easy

The conundrum many young (4-7), beginning piano students face is that ineffective practice is easy, but is also soon boring and frustrating because it’s ineffective. Playing through a piece is not hard if all you are concerned with is playing through it (doing things correctly? maintaining a beat? huh?). That is often, unfortunately, what the practice of students amounts to. Yet, although effective practice is

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Practice Tools

If you don’t have an ax or a saw, you might “cut” a tree down by building a fire on the ground around its trunk. Fire is a powerful tool, but it’s not naturally a precise tool, so you could end up with a lot of ash and not much tree! An ax, on the other hand, is very precise. If it’s sharp, it makes

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Planting a Seed, Pt. 2

It’s hard to imagine anyone learning to walk from scratch as an adult, but people who suffer brain injuries often do. They have no self-directed period, but are forced to adapt to constant, intense challenge. It can be difficult and frustrating. They usually struggle, needing lots of guidance, understanding, feedback and encouragement. If said adult sticks with it, he will master it eventually, or at

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Using Evernote

Evernote is a free program that can be used on desktop & laptop computers, and on most mobile devices. It enables sharing of documents between different devices and different users. This ability has made it extremely useful for two or more people collaborating on a computer based project. Sharing assignments and other things automatically between a student and me through Evernote has also proven to

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Stuff Big and Small

In Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent is informed of two fundamental rules: Don’t panic and always bring a towel. I’m not sure how essential the towel is, but “don’t panic” is great advice! If we panic, we can’t even understand the situation accurately, let alone respond helpfully. If we get too concerned with small stuff, we tend to get reactive.

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