Churchill, Maslow, and the Hula Dance Wrist Technique

I love a good Winston Churchill quote, and here’s one of my favorites:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Let’s take note reading as an example. Most of us have our tried-and-true methods of teaching students their lines and spaces. There are numerous note spellers, flash cards, mnemonic devices, . . . → Read More: Churchill, Maslow, and the Hula Dance Wrist Technique

Nothing but Net


Sorry it’s been awhile, but the semester’s recitals are over, so let the writing resume! Let’s talk about accuracy:

Let’s face it, accurate playing is important. And let’s be honest, when we tell students “the audience didn’t notice,” we’re lying. Big time. Audiences DO notice! They might not recognize that a particular note was . . . → Read More: Nothing but Net


Music engraving is an interest of mine. I’ve always been amazed at how the quality of engraving affects the readability of a piece of music. I recently discovered a piece that I like very much, but which I feel is poorly engraved.

The piece is “Shifty-Eyed Blues” by Phillip Keveren. It’s a great early-intermediate jazz . . . → Read More: Engraving

Interval, Schminterval!

New addition to the teaching materials page – Interval, Schminterval! is a little workbook I put together a few years back to help high school and college students with interval naming and recognition. Be warned, it contains numerous examples of my quirky sense of humor, there’s no answer key and it’s never been proofread by . . . → Read More: Interval, Schminterval!

A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 2 (Burger Pedagogy)

As the dancers were doing one of their repetitive tendu exercises one day, the instructor said “one of my teachers once told me that every time you repeat a movement, you put a penny in the bank – and in performance, you get to cash it in.”

Now, forget all the clever epithets you’ve heard . . . → Read More: A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 2 (Burger Pedagogy)

A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 1

Being a piano teacher, most of my work is after school hours, so in the mornings, I’ve taken a job accompanying ballet classes at the local university. It’s been a fascinating experience, and I wanted to share some things that I think have some relevance to the piano lesson.

Ballet classes are typically structured in . . . → Read More: A Lesson from Ballet Class, Part 1

Don’t Skip Bongo Drummers

There is a piece in the Piano Adventures method that I’m willing to bet a lot of people gloss over or skip altogether. It’s in Level 1, and it’s called “Bongo Drummers.”

The piece introduces the three G’s on the grand staff – low G, bass G, and treble G. Students are to play a . . . → Read More: Don’t Skip Bongo Drummers

The Holy Grail of Piano Teaching

I suppose it’s about time I said something about sight-reading. I’ve actually thought a lot about it over the last several years – it’s a hot topic for piano teachers, and plenty of ink and air has been spent on it in magazines and at conferences.

The best article in recent memory is Kenneth Saxon’s . . . → Read More: The Holy Grail of Piano Teaching

Juggling Balls

Responding to Wendy Stevens’ question “What is your favorite gadget or gizmo to use in teaching?” on Facebook today, my response included a Monster Puppet, a scarf, and juggling balls. There wasn’t quite enough room in the comments section, so I figured I’d elaborate here!

Monster Puppet – It’s just a puppet. I stick it . . . → Read More: Juggling Balls

Assignment Sheets

A recent discussion at’s Piano Club focused on the different kinds of assignment sheets teachers use for their students. I thought I’d share mine and say a few words about the kinds of assignments I make.

You can find the sheet in pdf format on my Teaching Materials page. I made the sheet in . . . → Read More: Assignment Sheets