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

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)

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

Recital Preparation

Here’s the problem: every student is different.

When preparing students for recitals, the challenge is to set them up so that they reach their “peak” at the performance. If they don’t have enough time to prepare properly, then the final week before the recital is likely to be stressful and unenjoyable (as well as the . . . → Read More: Recital Preparation

The Art of Teaching

I just got back from Iowa Music Teachers Association conference in Ames, IA. I got see a lot of neat things, chat with some really cool people, and eat too much. I also had a 2.5 hour drive, which means I had lots of time to think. This post is the result of the drive . . . → Read More: The Art of Teaching


Sorry about the hiatus, but the semester has ended, so let the writing resume!

I remember some years ago being told by my mother that when children ask “why,” it’s not a real question. When they ask “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”, it’s not because they desire information regarding the health benefits . . . → Read More: WHY?

Toilet Paper Dynamics

Back in my idealistic student days, there was something of a movement going on in pedagogy where teachers were defining “piano” as “quiet” instead of “soft.” The idea made good academic sense – forte meant loud, and the opposite of loud is quiet, so we started using “loud” and “quiet” instead of “loud” and “soft.”

. . . → Read More: Toilet Paper Dynamics

The Real Benefits of Piano Study

Okay, I have to get this off my chest. For years now, we’ve all been reading about how piano lessons benefit children. There are plenty of lists that describe the benefits of music study, and MENC even has a database to help music teachers convince their administrators to give them the resources they need to . . . → Read More: The Real Benefits of Piano Study

DIY In-service Part 11, Don’t Watch (or Listen)

For this final exercise, devote yourself to only one of your senses. Turn away from your student and only listen. Don’t watch them – evaluate and discuss their playing based solely on the sounds you see. Refrain from discussing technical issues, focus the dialogue solely on the sounds that are desired.


Don’t listen. Have . . . → Read More: DIY In-service Part 11, Don’t Watch (or Listen)