2021-2002 Studio Calendar

 The 2021-22 studio calendar is free in the store. Click here. 
Even if families are given a detailed calendar of the piano schedule for the year, students still ask questions like, “When is the recital,” or “When does the piece have to be memorized.” After I started giving students their own calendar to put in the clear pocket of their binder, I would just say, “Let’s look at your calendar!” I put it right on the front of their binder. On the back was a key signature chart for older students and a grand staff chart for beginners. If you don’t use binders, glue or tape it to their assignment notebook. Don’t forget to give a copy to parents.
The middle of the calendar is where you type your schedule. A handy Word template is included to make it easier.
You can add the days the studio opens and closes, recitals, holidays, festivals, theory exams, group lessons and most importantly the date a piece needs to be memorized. This calendar will help you plan out your entire year.
Along with the academic calendar that starts in August, there is an optional Word template for you to use to type in your studio schedule. Also Included is an illustrated instruction sheet on how to use the Word template. If you don’t have Word there are instructions for the margin settings when you use another word processing program.
I got this idea from a teaching colleague who told me it was the very best calendar for piano studios, and she was right! If you’ve never used this calendar format before, give it a try!
This year the calendar is a freebie to support all the music teachers who have been though so much recently. Thank you for all you do to promote music education.

Please follow and like us:

TC249: The Artwork of Communication that includes Ben Kapilow

As a piano teacher or podcast host, it is so important for you to be able to connect and communicate with your students and audience effectively. But this doesn’t come naturally for all of us. 
In this episode from the archives with Ben Kapilow of the All Keyed Up Podcast, Tim shares his tips and tricks on how he has learned the art of communicating effectively as a teacher and podcast host. We also discuss importance of being student-centered, how you can prepare and stay present in lessons, and why silence can be crucial in effective communication, too.

0:0000:32:20

SEND ME FUTURE EPISODES

[01:14] Overlap and connection between podcasting and interviewing and lesson delivery.
[04:39] How to make lessons student-led for shy students.
[08:16] Approaching podcast interviews in a neutral way.
[12:22] His experience in rethinking teaching approaches to students.
[14:11] The importance of being student-centered.
[17:11] Balance of being prepared and being present in podcasting and teaching.
[22:03] How Tim has learned to communicate with laser sharp clarity.
[28:25] Tim shares more about TopCast and TopMusic.

Transcript of the show
If you’d like to download a PDF transcript of this episode, please click below.

Links Mentioned

Today’s Sponsor

Newzik is a unique digital score platform that lets you work in real-time with other musicians. With over 100,000+ users, Newzik lets you organize your scores in a digital library accessible at all times, enrich your scores with multimedia files including YouTube videos, and most importantly share your scores and markings in real-time with your band, your students, or your entire orchestra. Newzik offers a free-forever option as well as affordable subscriptions with unlimited storage and extra features such as Maestria, the first Optical Music Recognition technology based on artificial intelligence, which lets you turn paper into interactive digital scores.
Thank you for tuning in!
Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.
If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other teachers find our show.
Stay updated by subscribing to this show, and get automatic delivery to your device every time a new episode goes live! We publish on Fridays weekly.

Dropshipping Branded Products 101

The human race is currently living in a fast-paced world that is literally flooded with all sorts of brand marketing. In fact, more and more businesses are constantly trying to steal a piece of the marketplace using marketing as a way of competing with other participants. Dropshipping businesses are also starting to take over a […]

TEACHER FEATURE: Chad Twedt, Pianist, Trainer, & Composer

In today’s post, please enjoy an interesting and insightful interview with pianist and teacher Chad Twedt (pronounced “tweed”). I’ve known Chad for a number years, having connected online thanks to blogging. Chad’s blog, Cerebroom, is where he posts occasional in-depth articles about topics relating to music and more. Below, I ask him to share about his recently released online course called The Art of Rubato, his teaching philosophy, and his compositions, among other things.

Hi, Chad! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. Would you begin by telling us a little bit about you and how you got into teaching?

Thanks Joy, I’m honored!  
I have a master’s degree in piano performance and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I love composing, performing, teaching, thinking/researching, watching movies, writing, coding, and playing tennis.
In high school, people used to ask me the dreaded question that almost no high schooler can answer: “What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?”  I used to answer, “I don’t know… the only thing I know for sure is that I’m not going to be a teacher.”  I said this because the only people I saw teaching were public school teachers who, in my view, had a difficult job – sometimes horrifically difficult, dealing with kids in every class who didn’t really want to be there.  I also hadn’t met any male private piano teachers. Becoming a piano teacher wasn’t even on my radar.
I started teaching in 1997 reluctantly when a 10-year-old kid who sat in the front row in my undergraduate junior recital begged to take lessons from me.  I told his parents that I was a performer, not a teacher.  He apparently really wanted to study with me, because they called me back the next day and pleaded with me again to give it a try.  I agreed, and I was nervous I’d run out of things to say after the first 10 minutes.  The opposite happened – I felt like each 30-minute lesson was way too short.  Unfortunately, the kid never practiced.  His parents later told me he idolized me and just wanted to be around me, so he only lasted a month as a student, but it was enough for me to realize that teaching piano was something I was good at and deeply interested in.  I felt I owed it to myself to explore it some more.  Fast forward 20+ years, and here I am!
As a piano teacher, what are your goals for your students? 
In each lesson, I am obsessively focused on preparing students to practice effectively at home.  This obsession increased tenfold after I did a ton of research into metacognition, which is the idea of “thinking about thinking.”  It is what allows students to plan a practice/study strategy, monitor that strategy, and evaluate the success of that strategy, rather than just mindlessly seeking pleasure, producing minimal results.  Students of all ages, especially adults, naturally exhibit metacognitive knowledge and skill when they study for academic tests, but they tend to be far less mindful when practicing piano.

I also strive to make sure that my students are comfortable performing for others from memory.  I think this is one of my biggest strengths as a teacher.  To some teachers this might sound like a pretty standard teaching goal to have, but over the past decade or so, the trend has been to push more and more for emphasis on sight-reading rather than memorization. This is a subject that I’ve looked into a lot, both in terms of psychology as well as benefits/drawbacks of memorization-oriented learning vs. sight-reading learning in my preparation threshold and memorization vs sight-reading articles (not to mention the practical side of it which I discuss here).  The pedagogical arguments I’ve seen in articles, presentations and forum discussions advocating for more emphasis on sight-reading and less emphasis on memorization are not convincing to me.
What is unique about your teaching approach? 
Probably most unique is my obsession in getting students to understand the “why” behind everything I’m having them do, down to the smallest detail.  Why put a dynamic peak in this or that spot?  Why choose one articulation pattern over another in some piece of Bach?  Why is one fingering objectively better than another?  Why put rubato here or there?  Why float the wrists between phrases?  Why, why, why?  I know that some students are emotionally content to just carry out orders without knowing why, but emotional satisfaction and intellectual preparedness are two different things.  Even students who are content to “play without understanding” will remember what they’re doing better when the “why” is generously shared with them, not to mention this knowledge will transfer far more effectively to pieces they learn in the future when they learn the “why” behind everything they do. 
As a student, I wasn’t disrespectful, but it really bothered me internally if I was ever asked to do something without knowing why… or even worse, when I was asked to do something that went against my internal senses.  Trying to get myself to follow instructions I didn’t fully understand felt to me like trying to run fast in one of those nightmares that takes place in slow motion.  Try as I might, my mind and body fight me.  I feel this obsession with “why” has been advantageous in teaching, because I know it causes me to break things down more than most do.
You recently released your first online course, called The Art of Rubato. Could you tell us about it?
Yes!  It is a six-hour video course that I published on Udemy, and it’s the only course in the world that exclusively teaches rubato at all, let alone in an organized, fully comprehensive manner.  In the course I identify four properties of rubato, four general purposes of rubato, five types (with many sub-types) of rubato, and three types of compound rubato.  I use over 140 audio excerpts of polished performances of standard repertoire – everything from intermediate to virtuoso repertoire, covering all eras of music from Bach to Barber.  I designed the course to be useful for any musician, from the intermediate piano student to the college music professor.  It’s also a course that any musician can take, not just pianists.  Rubato is rubato, no matter what instrument is performing it.

What led to your desire to delve into the art of rubato? 
Early in my teaching career when my first students started advancing to a level where rubato became more relevant, I became deeply frustrated by how little I explicitly understood about rubato.  I did some digging and was disappointed by what little I found in books and articles.  It was clear to me that even the experts were just winging it when they talked about rubato.  Everyone had their tips, tricks and bits of understanding about rubato that all made sense, but I couldn’t find any comprehensive framework that could be used to teach rubato to students (or to just wield as a performer).
Much like what I did with the Matrix movies and my crazy Matrix ReSolutions website (one of my contributions to humanity), this became a puzzle that I just had to solve.  I already listened to the 1200 piano CDs in my music collection all the time, but at that point I started listening specifically for rubato.  After a couple years of obsessing about it, I had formulated a system of analyzing, notating and teaching rubato that I started using with my students.
I thought that surely I couldn’t possibly be the first person over the course of the past couple hundred years to do what I had done.  I finally broke down and purchased a $100, 450-page textbook on the history of rubato called Stolen Time by Richard Hudson that I had been eyeballing for a while.  According to Hudson, some had tried but failed to develop a system of detailing the various properties, purposes, behaviors, etc. of rubato.  One pedagogue concluded it’s too personal for any “system” to be developed.  Having accomplished exactly this, I didn’t know whether to feel proud or confused!  Maybe a little of both!
How is your course useful to pianists and piano teachers? 
The course presents a system of analyzing, notating and teaching rubato that eludes us until we see it, after which it seems very intuitive and natural.  After taking the course, performers and teachers will feel extremely confident as they know why they use all the rubato they use.  It does not give them any kind of “formula” to “calculate” where to put rubato.  But it does give them a set of concepts, rules and guidelines (just like we have in traditional music theory and performance practice) so that they know “how to think” in the realm of rubato.  If you don’t have concrete, well-defined vocabulary and concepts to describe the various aspects of a musical phenomenon, then that phenomenon will forever remain in the realm of musical spiritualism and mystery rather than being assimilated into the realm of science and pedagogy.

Many teachers have told me that learning about rubato changed the way they hear music.  One teacher went to a symphony performance a while after hearing my presentation, and they told me that they found themselves listening to all of the music through this new “rubato lens” during the whole concert, calling the experience “enlightening.”
To quote myself from the course:  “Rubato that is felt is expressive, but rubato that is both felt and understood is more expressive.”
What was it like to create and publish your own video course through Udemy? 
It was a lot more work than I thought it would be!  The audio editing and photoshopping sheet music excerpts alone was a solid month of work.  Writing the script, creating the visuals, and then actually recording it and getting it right were all a huge undertaking.  But in the end, it was worth it.  I produced a high-quality course, not only in terms of the content but also in terms of presentation.
As for Udemy itself, I feel like Udemy does a great job trying to give instructors what they truly deserve as compensation for their work.  Udemy is run the way I’d probably want to run an online education business if I were to run one myself.  If someone buys my course by searching on Udemy, I keep 50%.  If someone buys my course through a link I provide, I keep 97%.  The 3% Udemy is making on that still works out to be a lot when you have 35 million users, so this business model is a win-win for everyone.  Clearly Udemy is not out to exploit those who provide content on their site.
In addition to performing and teaching, you are also a composer! Would you tell us about the compositions and other resources you offer on your blog? 

Sure!  My most recent composition was actually a commission from a very talented four-piano ensemble group called Piano 4te.  The piece is called Cosmosis, and you can hear it here, although the recording might be barely tolerable to some since it’s just a computer rendering from my music notation software.
Before that, I published Teacher Duets for Burgmuller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100 for a second piano, and that has been a popular item among teachers as it makes the Burgmüller pieces (a staple of our teaching repertoire) sound like sophisticated pieces of music for the concert stage. 
I also very recently published two Dragon Suites for solo piano (here and here), which are concert piano arrangements of video game music by Jordan Steven, similar to what has been done with the Final Fantasy video game soundtracks.  After I was asked to write the arrangements, I decided it would be a super interesting and exciting project since the original music is so far removed from typical piano music.  I think the pieces would be a super interesting contrast in a program full of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.
My earliest compositions are the works from my Ostinato album:  Ostinato Suite No. 1, Ostinato Suite No. 2, 9/11 Portrait, and Life of a Rain Cloud.  You can hear audio samples of each of these on these pages.
Those who are interested in absurd arrangements might also be interested in my piece “Solfeggissimo.”  It is hardissimo to play.

I also offer a scale and arpeggio fingering card, which is a laminated, double-sided, 8.5×11 sheet that gives students fingerings of all 12 major scales and all 36 minor scales, all 24 major/minor arpeggios, dominant/diminished 7th arpeggios, several fingerings for the chromatic scale, and even chromatic thirds.  I grew tired of writing scale/arpeggio fingerings into students’ notebooks, and I believe scale/arpeggio “books” are a waste of money when I already give my students the theory background to figure out the notes of the scales I assign to them.  I also believe the scales are learned more quickly and retained more effectively when students figure out scales on their own.  Laminating of course isn’t cheap, so packs of 5 cards go for $20, but I’d rather have students get a $4 card with everything they need right there that will last their entire lives (and doubles as a handy sheet music bookmark) than have them buy a $10 book.
All of my stuff can be found at orangenote.io.
Do you have any other current projects?
Yes, in fact the majority of my “project time” over the past seven years has gone into the designing of MetaPractice, an app that will help teachers teach and help students practice based on a ton of research I did into metacognition.  I don’t want to say much about it at this point since it’s currently in private alpha testing while coders add the last remaining features, but I’ve been using it very successfully with my own kids for a couple months, and I’m extremely excited about its release.  It is designed for goal-oriented teachers who want their students to be goal-oriented when practicing.
At this very moment, now that I’ve completed my rubato video course (and while I wait for the coding of MetaPractice to be completed), I’m collaborating with the creator of mynoise.net to make a piano “soundscape,” which is fun as it involves a very different kind of musical writing, much more challenging than it would seem.
How can teachers learn more about your music, resources, and online course?
Anything of significance that I do in the future will be announced on my blog, Cerebroom, so that’s probably the best way to follow what’s going on.  Updates don’t go out very often (just when I have something very important to say), so Cerebroom subscriptions won’t flood anyone’s email boxes.  At my Udemy rubato course, there is a promotional video there as well as real sample videos from the course.
What else would you like us to know?
I’m the events coordinator for a local tennis club, running several different tennis events for men and women.  I can also create a large cavity between my hands and blow into a slit made by my thumbs to make the sound of a mourning dove.  
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Chad! It was great to hear about your new rubato course as well as your compositions and other projects!

Hello again, readers: Just wanted to tell you I completed Chad’s rubato course recently and I must echo what other teachers have said about it: I hear rubato in an all-new way and I’m pleased to have a more effective way to teach rubato to my students. I’d recommend The Art of Rubato course to any teacher interested in helping their intermediate and advancing students use rubato in a more deliberate and well-grounded manner in their playing. Check out this link to learn more!
Hope you enjoyed reading this Teacher Feature!
Links: 
Chad’s The Art of Rubato courseChad’s music blog:  CerebroomChad’s Matrix ReSolutions websiteChad’s Piano Studio websiteChad’s professional artist websiteChad’s general blog, Read TwedtA Facebook video of Chad performing

.mailpoet_hp_email_label{display:none!important;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_column_with_background { padding: 10px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:not(:first-child) { margin-left: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_segment_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_radio_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_list_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_label { display: block; font-weight: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_month, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_day, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_year, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date { display: block; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea { width: 200px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_submit { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_divider { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading { width: 30px; text-align: center; line-height: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading > span { width: 5px; height: 5px; background-color: #5b5b5b; }#mp_form_below_posts2{border: 0px solid #000000;border-radius: 0px;background: #f2f2f2;color: #1e1e1e;text-align: left;}#mp_form_below_posts2 form.mailpoet_form {padding: 20px;}#mp_form_below_posts2{width: 100%;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message {margin: 0; padding: 0 20px;}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.parsley-success {color: #000000}

#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.textarea.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-errors-list {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-required {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-custom-error-message {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph.last {margin-bottom: 0} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 {background: #f2f2f2;}} @media (min-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .last .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:last-child .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}}

Please leave this field emptyDon’t miss a thing!
Sign up to get blog updates delivered to your email inbox.

input[name=”data[form_field_OTA3NTM2MzI2ZWJlX2ZpcnN0X25hbWU=]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
input[name=”data[form_field_YmU1OGZhNDJiYmVkX2VtYWls]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
Send me each new blog post!

Wednesday Phrases of Knowledge

“Children’s need to make sense of the world and to be skillful in it is as deep and strong as their need for food or rest or sleep.”John Holt, in How Children Learn

Thoughts for today: Young children have a strong drive to learn and make sense of the world around them! How can we as teachers harness this natural curiosity? How can we as adults maintain this youthful approach to the world around us?

.mailpoet_hp_email_label{display:none!important;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_column_with_background { padding: 10px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:not(:first-child) { margin-left: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_segment_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_radio_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_list_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_label { display: block; font-weight: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_month, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_day, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_year, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date { display: block; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea { width: 200px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_submit { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_divider { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading { width: 30px; text-align: center; line-height: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading > span { width: 5px; height: 5px; background-color: #5b5b5b; }#mp_form_below_posts2{border: 0px solid #000000;border-radius: 0px;background: #f2f2f2;color: #1e1e1e;text-align: left;}#mp_form_below_posts2 form.mailpoet_form {padding: 20px;}#mp_form_below_posts2{width: 100%;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message {margin: 0; padding: 0 20px;}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.parsley-success {color: #000000}

#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.textarea.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-errors-list {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-required {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-custom-error-message {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph.last {margin-bottom: 0} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 {background: #f2f2f2;}} @media (min-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .last .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:last-child .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}}

Please leave this field emptyDon’t miss a thing!
Sign up to get blog updates delivered to your email inbox.

input[name=”data[form_field_OTA3NTM2MzI2ZWJlX2ZpcnN0X25hbWU=]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
input[name=”data[form_field_YmU1OGZhNDJiYmVkX2VtYWls]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
Send me each new blog post!

15 Free Printable Music Posters

Hello, everyone! Today, I have a fun freebie to share with you: 15 FREE printable music posters. If you are looking for a simple and affordable way to add some music-themed artwork to YOUR space, look no further!

How did this project come about? Recently inspired by some images I saw in Pinterest, I started looking around online for some printable artwork for my daughter’s play space. On a couple of public domain image websites (such as commons.wikimedia.org), I found some lovely nature-themed images that were exactly what I was looking for.

Soon, I started to wonder what music- or piano-themed options I might find. Thus began a trip down a rabbit hole as I searched the internet and began compiling some of the nicer options I found!
In the free PDF download at the end of this post, you’ll find 15 music-themed printable posters as well as 4 BONUS nature-themed posters.
Here is a peek at a few of the vintage piano images I found.

Aren’t they charming?!

I also found some vintage piano advertisements.

This pair of colorful cassette tapes posters are also perfect as artwork on the wall.

There are more music posters not shown here (15 total), but you get the idea.
BONUS: Here’s a peek at couple of the nature prints included as a bonus at the end of the PDF. These are the images for my daughter’s play area that sparked the idea for this entire project!

A Few Printing and Assembly Tips
For the best quality print, I recommend printing the posters out using a laser printer instead of an inkjet printer — especially if the artwork you’ve selected is in full color. If you don’t own a laser printer, you can always have the printing done at a print shop. (If you are a member of MTNA, you can use your Office Max/Office Depot discount card!) 
I also suggest printing on slightly heavy paper, such as cardstock. You could also consider laminating the page, as long as you don’t mind a glossy look! 
As far as framing options go, you’ve got two main options. A regular picture frame is the first option. You can use size 8.5’’x11’’ or 8’’x10’’, but you’ll need to trim the paper slightly to fit the latter.
But personally, I love the look of the 8-inch Magnetic Poster Frame Hanger (which is what you see pictured in all the images above), so that’s what I chose. Magnets embedded in the wood pieces are used to clamp to the top and bottom of the poster, and then the artwork is hung using the string (I used these clear plastic hooks). It’s an affordable and attractive way to hang your artwork, plus it’s easy to trade out the artwork whenever desired. I trimmed a quarter inch off the left and right edges of the paper to make the width exactly eight inches to match the frame.

Disclosure: Please note that the Amazon links in this blog post are affiliate links, which means I will earn a small percentage when you make a purchase using my links. Thanks for supporting my blog! 
To download the PDF of my FREE Printable Music Posters (plus the 4 bonus nature posters), visit the Printable > Other Resources page and click on “15 FREE Printable Music Posters.” I hope you enjoy!

.mailpoet_hp_email_label{display:none!important;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_column_with_background { padding: 10px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:not(:first-child) { margin-left: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_segment_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_radio_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_list_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_label { display: block; font-weight: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_month, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_day, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_year, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date { display: block; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea { width: 200px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_submit { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_divider { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading { width: 30px; text-align: center; line-height: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading > span { width: 5px; height: 5px; background-color: #5b5b5b; }#mp_form_below_posts2{border: 0px solid #000000;border-radius: 0px;background: #f2f2f2;color: #1e1e1e;text-align: left;}#mp_form_below_posts2 form.mailpoet_form {padding: 20px;}#mp_form_below_posts2{width: 100%;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message {margin: 0; padding: 0 20px;}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.parsley-success {color: #000000}

#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.textarea.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-errors-list {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-required {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-custom-error-message {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph.last {margin-bottom: 0} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 {background: #f2f2f2;}} @media (min-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .last .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:last-child .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}}

Please leave this field emptyDon’t miss a thing!
Sign up to get blog updates delivered to your email inbox.

input[name=”data[form_field_OTA3NTM2MzI2ZWJlX2ZpcnN0X25hbWU=]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
input[name=”data[form_field_YmU1OGZhNDJiYmVkX2VtYWls]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
Send me each new blog post!

Increasing Your Repertoire with Fast Research

In this week’s post, Ryan Morison discusses how quick studies can be used as an effective tool to broaden your repertoire and develop good habits and skills when learning new pieces.
***
I recently wrote a blog post about one of my main piano goals for 2021 which is to broaden my active repertoire. A tool that I have found to be invaluable for the purposes of achieving this goal is quick studies.
Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels
Quick Studies – What & why?
Quick studies are an often overlooked, but incredibly beneficial way to grow your repertoire. They also help you develop and hone the skills required to new learn pieces faster.
The concept is very simple: you reduce the amount of time you have to learn a piece e.g. often one or two weeks rather than months. The objective is to do this without compromising significantly on the quality of the musical result.
Tips for quick study projects
The following are some tips and suggestions that I have found which may be useful if you’re considering embarking upon similar projects:

Not too difficult – Don’t be overly ambitious in choosing pieces. Select works that are realistic given your abilities and the shortened timeframe. It’s far better to choose something easier than too difficult. One way to measure difficulty is to use examination syllabi as a guideline e.g. select pieces one or two grades below your current level (this worked very well for me!).
Not too long – Shorter is better, especially if you’re not quite sure if a piece is at the right level.  Personally, I found that pieces approximately three pages long with some repetition worked well. I also checked my selections by doing a run through and keeping a tally of difficult spots. These were places that I couldn’t sight-read and therefore would need to practise. A few tricky spots is fine, but if literally every bar has something challenging then the piece probably isn’t suitable.
Lay good foundations – The things that caused me the most problems down the line were errors with fingering and other sloppiness in the earlier note learning stages. Just because you have less time doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow a systematic approach, in fact it’s the opposite! This free email course gives a great process to follow for the early stages of learning a piece and can be applied to quick studies.
Be consistent – Consistent practice, even for short time periods, is far more important than the total time spent practising. I used regular “micro-practice” sessions targeted at specific problem areas which helped me make great progress despite having very limited time. This blog post gives some useful tips for short practice sessions.
Be disciplined and focussed – Simply playing through your piece daily and hoping that things will improve or correct themselves is a sure recipe for failure. A much more disciplined, strategic approach is required. This might include highlighting problem areas upfront and adopting a plan to tackle them systematically (Graham Fitch refers to this process as Quarantining).
Set goals and milestones – Working towards defined milestones e.g. recording for yourself, a lesson, playing for others is an excellent way to give your practising structure and focus. There are so many opportunities to do this, even in current circumstances. For example, over the last year I participated in various online meet-ups and even an online masterclass (click here if you’d like to see a video of my performance and feedback session!).

Many of these principles apply not just to quick studies, but to learning new pieces in general. Because of the time pressure of a quick study, they become even more pertinent. This makes quick studies incredibly effective for building and reinforcing good habits that apply well beyond the project at hand.
I recently concluded my first quick study project and found it to be such a positive undertaking that I’ve since started several further pieces in this manner (If you’d like to find out more, I’ve documented my experience in the form of a “video journal” on my website). I highly recommend the quick study approach and if you’re looking to improve your ability to learn new pieces, encourage you to give it a try!

Further links & resources

How to Start Learning a New Piece – Click here to sign-up for a free email course designed to guide you through the early stages of the process and show you principles and practice tools for efficient and effective learning.
Quarantining – Click here for a blog post on quarantining with links to further information and resources.
Examination Resources – Click here to view our Guide to the ABRSM 2021 & 2022 syllabus or click here to view an index of all of our resources and guides for piano examinations

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Artistic Methods to Practise Piano Scales

A thorough knowledge of scales and arpeggios is essential for all musicians, and yet practising them is often associated with boredom and drudgery. How do we motivate ourselves or our students to practise them, and do we need to keep practising them once we’ve learned them and been through the exam system? Once mastered, we might continue to practise our scales as part of the daily warm-up (many concert pianists do this, but many don’t) or use them use them as vehicles for learning other skills.
Why are scales and arpeggios important?
In addition to being the only technical components in many examinations, fluency with scales and arpeggios is important for several reasons: 

Basic musical literacy (developing familiarity with all keys)
Keyboard geography, and a tactile as well as aural and theoretical understanding of all keys
As the basis for developing other pianistic skills

How to make scale practice engaging
Mindless practising is not only boring but also very inefficient, but fortunately there are many imaginative ways to bring scale practice to life. By adding variety and creativity to your practising, you will get much better results as you enjoy the process. The following are some ideas:

Practise with a variety of different rhythms, using accents and groupings (click here for more information on a recent workshop on using rhythms and accents)
Organise scales and arpeggios into groups so that practice doesn’t feel overwhelming. By mixing it up you can avoid practising the same scales in the same order each day, and you’ll be able to cycle through them all over the course of several days. A random generator is a helpful way of testing yourself out (see resources below for a tool), and using the Circle of Fifths can also help you come up with different sequences.
Playing with a range of different dynamics, including crescendo-dimuendo effects helps to make scales and arpeggios more meaningful and engaging.
Explore different touches and articulations. It’s particularly effective when you ask one hand to do something different from the other!
Playing one hand twice as fast as the other is a very good test of coordination and concentration. Try a scale using a two-against-three cross rhythm if you want a challenge!
Try using the Russian scale form which contains elements of similar and contrary motion and is an excellent way to add value to scale practice (click here to view a video demonstration).

Tools and resources
Given the importance of scales and arpeggios, I have developed numerous resources and tools to help making practising them more interesting and productive, in addition to giving advice on solving the technical challenges they present. The following is a listing which you might find useful: 

There are many further resources on scales, arpeggios and related topics in the Online Academy’s scales & arpeggios section. Click here to view an index of available resources.

Bringing Scales & Arpeggios to Life

On Saturday 15th May @ 14:00 – 15:30 BST (GMT +1) Graham Fitch presented an online workshop exploring creative ways to bring practising scales and arpeggios to life. In this interactive workshop, Graham showed how to solve the technical problems and how to use them as vehicles for learning other skills. 

Included in the ticket price is access to the workshop recording, presentations and worksheets. Access to the following Online Academy resources are also included:

Click here for more information or to purchase access to the recording and resources!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Transitioning Again to In-Individual Classes Throughout/After the Covid-19 Pandemic

[Just for fun…here’s a selfie taken after chopping off 12 inches of pandemic-time hair and donating it to Wigs 4 Kids!]
Hello readers!
I hope you all are well. Here in Michigan, we are in the midst of BEAUTIFUL summer weather and it feels as if the worst of the pandemic is behind us (which I would certainly like to believe is true!). The current full vaccination rate in the state of Michigan is 46%, which is also the current rate in the U.S. as a whole (as of June 2021). In my local county, the full vaccination rate is even higher at 60% and the rate of reported Covid-19 cases per day is down to low single digits.
With these facts in mind, I have started transitioning a few of my students from online lessons to in-person lessons at my home studio. (You might recall — 75% of my students are in Ohio from before I moved and they will remain online.) I am taking a number of precautions, because I would much prefer to err on the side of caution and keep everyone healthy if I can help it!
In case you happen to be in the same position and might find this useful, below is the wording I used to communicate my precautions and expectations to parents via email.

Hello students, 

I just wanted to send a note to let you know what to expect when it comes to precautions for our in-person lessons. Even though the Covid-19 rates are low in Michigan right now, I’d still like to play it safe and err on the side of caution. I am excited to be able to be back together in-person with my students, and I hope you are too! 

Just so you know: My husband and I have both been vaccinated, and so has my mother-in-law who sometimes watches our 16-month-old daughter. 

And here are the precautions we will take here at my in-home piano studio:
 
– Please ask your student to use the bathroom at home before leaving home. But if needed, the bathroom here will be available to students. 
– Anytime 5 minutes prior to the lesson start time, students may be sent to the front door where I will welcome them. I prefer parents don’t come indoors unless necessary, but we can chat on the porch before the lesson time starts if you’d like! During the lesson, parents are welcome to wait in the car or run errands. 
– An air purifier will run during the lesson time. Surfaces will be cleaned with antibacterial wipes between students. 
– When students enter, they should be wearing their mask (and I will be, too). Students will be asked to remove their shoes and wash their hands using hand sanitizer. We will use hand sanitizer again at the end of the lesson before I send them out to your vehicle. 
– Should the student (or anyone in the family) get sick or learn they were exposed to someone with Covid-19, please notify me. I would prefer to err on the side of caution and keep everyone as healthy as we can! And I am happy to accomodate an online lesson as needed for any weeks we decide not to meet in-person. 

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns as we go along. 

Thanks so much! 
Joy

For any and all studio communication, I think it’s important to use a friendly yet professional tone and use clear, concise language — and that’s what I tried to do in my email above!
In case you haven’t seen it, there is a helpful resource from MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) you might be interested in checking out as well: Legal FAQs for Reopening Music Studios.
PS: Stay tuned because tomorrow I will share a free printable poster for reminding students to remove their shoes, wash their hands, etc. when they arrive at your studio! Update: Visit this post to view the printable poster!

Your turn: How are lessons going in YOUR neck of the woods? Are you teaching online, in person, or both? I would love to hear from you! I’m sure we all have plenty we could share about our experiences over the past year or so.

.mailpoet_hp_email_label{display:none!important;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_column_with_background { padding: 10px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:not(:first-child) { margin-left: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph { line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 20px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_segment_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_radio_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_list_label, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_label { display: block; font-weight: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_select, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_month, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_day, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date_year, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_date { display: block; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_text, #mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_textarea { width: 200px; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_checkbox { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_submit { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_divider { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message { }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading { width: 30px; text-align: center; line-height: normal; }
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_loading > span { width: 5px; height: 5px; background-color: #5b5b5b; }#mp_form_below_posts2{border: 0px solid #000000;border-radius: 0px;background: #f2f2f2;color: #1e1e1e;text-align: left;}#mp_form_below_posts2 form.mailpoet_form {padding: 20px;}#mp_form_below_posts2{width: 100%;}#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_message {margin: 0; padding: 0 20px;}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-success {color: #000000}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.parsley-success {color: #000000}

#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_validate_error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 input.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 select.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 textarea.textarea.parsley-error {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-errors-list {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-required {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .parsley-custom-error-message {color: #cf2e2e}
#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_paragraph.last {margin-bottom: 0} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 {background: #f2f2f2;}} @media (min-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .last .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}} @media (max-width: 500px) {#mp_form_below_posts2 .mailpoet_form_column:last-child .mailpoet_paragraph:last-child {margin-bottom: 0}}

Please leave this field emptyDon’t miss a thing!
Sign up to get blog updates delivered to your email inbox.

input[name=”data[form_field_OTA3NTM2MzI2ZWJlX2ZpcnN0X25hbWU=]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
input[name=”data[form_field_YmU1OGZhNDJiYmVkX2VtYWls]”]::placeholder{color:#000000;opacity: 1;}
Send me each new blog post!

Enhancing Your Left Piano Taking part in Hand

Do you feel that your left hand is weaker than your right hand and is holding you back in your piano playing? We all have a dominant hand, and for most of us it is the right hand. However, research has shown that even in left handed players, the right hand still shows a higher level of motor control!
The left hand is often neglected in our practising for various reasons. Our ear can be so focussed on the right hand that we don’t always listen attentively to what is going on in the left. Even if we do try to listen, we cannot be sure we are able to hear whether our left hand is playing in a controlled way. Perhaps we are playing unevenly, or missing some notes – we can’t quite figure out what’s wrong, but know something is amiss. 
Focussing on the left hand
Practising the left hand by itself is of course an option, and something I recommend doing regularly anyway. However, this won’t show us what is actually going on when we add our right hand. I have another solution for addressing this problem which involves playing a passage with the left hand on the keyboard as normal but with the right hand mining its notes on the surface of the keys.
By miming the right hand in this way, we are effectively playing both hands together still, but since we won’t hear any of the sounds the right hand would be making, we are able to really hear what the left hand is actually getting up to (rather than what we think it is doing). The process can be very revealing!

Exercises and studies
A secure left hand technique is essential for pianistic development, and special exercises and studies can be very beneficial. We listen only to our left hand, which is now responsible all by itself for maintaining the pulse, and playing rhythmically and expressively with nuances. 
On my shelves I have an ancient copy of Herman Berens’ The Training of the Left Hand. I have never really given it much attention before, but decided to take a closer look after being commissioned to write an article on the left hand for Pianist Magazine.
The subject of whether pianists need to practise technical exercises at all is a contentious one, but doing specific exercises in particular ways for a good reason can be excellent groundwork for technical development alongside studies and repertoire. However, doing exercises without such a focus, or in ways that create tension not only waste time but can also be positively harmful. As with any exercise or indeed any practice activity, it’s how you do it that counts!
Video Series on the Online Academy
Because the left hand is so often a weak link for many pianists, I am in the process of creating a video series on the Online Academy on the the left hand. This will start with videos on a selection of the Berens exercises and studies and include ideas on using symmetrical inversion to build up left hand technique by calling on the strengths of the right hand for assistance.
The series will also feature some of Paul Wittgenstein’s exercises and some of his transcriptions for the left hand of well-known repertoire. Who would have thought Bach’s first prelude from the ’48 could be played by the left hand alone!?
Practising this is not only a terrific test of memory but if we can play the left-hand transcription sensitively, with expression and full rhythmical control, we can be sure we are developing our left hand technique in ways that are perhaps even better than dry, mechanical exercises.

Developing the Left Hand
Would you like to improve your left hand technique and make your left hand feel more secure in your playing? Join us on Friday 28th May @ 15:00 – 16:30 BST (GMT + 1) for an online workshop in which Graham Fitch demonstrates a range of exercises, studies, repertoire and practice techniques designed to improve left hand skills. Click here for more information or to book your place.