Two smiling girls together at one piano.

Music — Another Way to Play

For jazz musicians, music very much encompasses the full range that language does, from informal conversation to polished performance. We can do that with our native language because we are fluent in our native language. Jazz musicians are fluent in the language of jazz.

Read More »

Pumpkin Squeeze

Building on Pumpkin Hand Piano and Pumpkin Tapping, Pumpkin Squeeze gets students to feel their hand and fingers working together. I really could not be happier with the results I’ve seen with this. I’ve found this useful not just with beginners, but with all students who have not quite mastered using their fingers, particularly for finger staccato. Pumpkin Squeeze is partly what it sounds like, squeezing the pumpkin.

Read More »

Pumpkin Tapping

In last week’s post, Pumpkin Hand Piano  I presented the use of a pumpkin as a metaphor and prop for teaching kids how to use their fingers and hands in playing piano. In short, I took the ideas of rounded hand shape and holding a ball a step further by using the stem of a pumpkin to call kids’ attention to the bridge of the hand.

Read More »

Pumpkin Hand Piano

Perhaps the greatest struggle young beginning piano students have is with learning to use their fingers effectively. Teacher’s have generally agreed that curved fingers are essential, but getting kids to play this way often seems impossible. We often simply strike out, and with good reason!  Strike One With most, they have never had to pay attention to or use their fingers—or likely any part of

Read More »
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

Read More »

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »
Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: