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


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?

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!

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

Gambling with Praise

My wife recently introduced me to “Principles of Everyday Behavior Analysis” by L. Keith Miller. Two concepts discussed in the book caught my eye. One is the Principle of Deprivation and the other is the idea of Interval Schedules of Reinforcement. Basically, the principle of deprivation says that the more deprived someone is of a . . . → Read More: Gambling with Praise