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

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

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

Here, Have a Chainsaw!

It occurs to me that I’m occasionally guilty of telling students they need to use a metronome without having taught them how to use one. It’s the musical equivalent of handing someone a chainsaw and expecting them to cut down a tree.

Pretend for a moment that you’ve never used a chainsaw. Now imagine that . . . → Read More: Here, Have a Chainsaw!

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!