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

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)

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

Quick Metronome Idea

I do this thing every now and then where I practice with a metronome but put the metronome across the room – 10 feet away or so. It feels very different than having it right on the piano, and I think it’s because of how it changes the way you listen.

When the metronome is . . . → Read More: Quick Metronome Idea

The Augmented Alberti Exercise

Here’s an exercise I use to help speed up Alberti bass figures:

First, sit so that the C above middle C is directly in front of you.

Second, turn your body to the right so that you’re facing the top C on the keyboard.

Third, practice this, using 5131 5131 for your fingering:

Doing . . . → Read More: The Augmented Alberti Exercise

Piano Playing – in 3D!

Two things inspired this post:

The first is Concert Hands, a completely ridiculous piece of technology that you strap on to your wrists and hands to help you learn to play. (Seriously, watch the video, it’s hilarious!)

The second is a description of a teaching technique in Julie Knerr’s excellent article on elementary technique in . . . → Read More: Piano Playing – in 3D!

How to Memorize

I tried something new with my students this year, and I think it helped make our winter recital a huge success. I gave them a simple recipe for how to keep their memory secure in the week before their recital.

It goes like this:

1) With the score out of sight, play the first section . . . → Read More: How to Memorize

DIY In-service Part 7, Give them the Pencil

This one is self-explanatory. Hand the pencil over to your students and make them do the writing. It sounds inconsequential, but it’s amazing what a difference it makes when the words on a student’s music and assignment sheet are written by them. It helps give students a sense of ownership over their studies. They magically . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 7, Give them the Pencil

DIY In-service Part 6, Practice the Easy Stuff

Let’s face it, we rarely have time to practice enough, and most of the music we give our students is well below our own performance level. But, even if you can play circles around Beethoven Op. 110, spend some time and really practice the F major sonatina you plan to teach that day. Make it . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 6, Practice the Easy Stuff