Tips for Online Lessons

Many people wonder if online lessons are a real thing. Twenty years ago we probably would not have tried it but since Youtube has become a multi billion dollar platform music teachers have had to adapt to the idea. We don’t want to be outwitted by the teenager playing some pop song with a light up keyboard. (only kidding, I’m sure Johnny is doing a great job.)  We can visit thousands of music videos, tutorials and classes with just a click of a button. It’s amazing! I love using you tube myself and for my students. It’s a powerful resource.

However, you do miss that personal connection. The biggest difference between a youtube tutorial of how to play “A River Flows in You” or whatever song you’re wanting to look up and learn overnight……… is the FEEDBACK. If you want some expert advice from someone who has been trained and painstakingly gone through the same process of learning an instrument, you’re going to need a private teacher. They’re going to know how to help you. That youtube tutorial with the colored keys will only take you so far. Although they are pretty cool!

So how do we “get with the times” but also keep the connection and expertise that we so desperately need? Let me just say that a good teacher is still going to be a good teacher whether it’s through online video or sitting next to the students in their studio. I heard someone quote, “Music gives people hope. Piano teachers give people music.” Don’t give up on that teacher, please! They are the hope for your child to have a love for music and be trained properly. But what if an in-person lesson is not an option?

If you’re considering online lessons please know they CAN work and they can work very well! It’s not ideal but an awesome choice if you can’t find a teacher in the area. Or you’re going on a long vacation and don’t want to miss a ton of lessons. Or maybe Susie has the sniffles and doesn’t want to infect anyone but is perfectly fine with having her lesson that day. OR if you’re an innocent victim of a worldwide epidemic and can’t leave your house. (it’s coming guys….) Whatever the reason, it’s great to fallback on that rather than falling BEHIND. (obviously check if your teacher offers online lessons before assuming.)

Here are some things you need to do before starting online lessons:

1. Set up your space.

  • The teacher needs to see the keyboard and the students to watch for form, technique, hand position, fingering etc. The teacher will most likely hear the mistakes in notes so no need to get an birdseye view, just a side shot is fine.
  • Use a program and device that has the best video quality.
    • For apple users, FaceTime is usually the best quality. For non apple, Skype is the easiest to work with (and it’s free!). 
  • Be sure the books or sheet music are all out on the music stand. Everything needs to be out of their piano bag and easily reachable.
  • Be sure the device is charged and has been updated with all software updates!
  • Be aware of the space the student is in for the lesson. If there are a lot of distractions, chances are the lesson will not go well. Younger siblings, tv blaring in the background=the teacher trying to bring the students attention back to them.

A little tip: don’t use a swivel chair for a substitute piano bench. This causes the student to not only be distracted during their normal practice but also during the lesson! Use a piano bench to ensure the correct height and posture for the learning student. 

2. Be aware of measure numbers and sections of music.

Because the teacher cannot just point at a section of music and say “let’s work this part” but rather “look at measure 5-10 for me”. Students have to know how to count measure numbers. This is typically explained to them early on but we do not always use that language until they are a little older. They will quickly start to look for the boxes above the first measure of each line and then count towards the right to figure out where the teacher is talking about. This is all apart of music literation! They will learn how to “speak” music. For younger students, a parent may need to be present to help them find their spot but they usually catch on quick. We can even make it a game and say “see how fast you can find measure number 12!”.

3. Be prepared to LISTEN well.

Because of the lack of personal contact through online lessons, students have to be willing to listen well rather than learning via demonstration. Even when the teacher demonstrates online, they MUST listen more than WATCH because obviously they are looking through a screen to see what they are doing which is harder to follow than in person. BUT I have found this amazingly develops their ear rather than relying on sight to show them how to fix something or add something to their music. While the student should listen well, they should also ask more questions if they are struggling to understand something being communicated to them verbally. This applies as well in a regular lesson but facial readings are not quite as easy on camera than they are in person, so if the student is confused, don’t be afraid to speak up!

4. Always have a pencil, a highlighter and a piece of paper ready.

–The pencil is for marking things on the music. Sometimes I will ask students to write in the timing of their notes or circle something. Normally I would do this for them but since I am not there, they have to do it themselves. Which like many other things, is a great way to learn! When they do it themselves, it usually sinks in more.

–I love using highlighters for student pieces because it makes certain things (dynamics, articulation, etc) POP out of the page! It “lights up” on the page more than a pencil would. By the way, you CAN use a pen to mark up music if you’re okay with that but I’d recommend to use an erasable pen rather than marking up a page and not being able to erase it. A highlighter in my opinion is the exception because they are excellent learning tools when trying to help younger students understand different signs and markings within the score.

–A piece of paper is just handy to have for making additional notes. Students can keep this tucked away somewhere in their music binder. They will receive an assignment sheet from me (in the case that I am the teacher) but this piece of paper has come in handy for me many times!

5. Be ready for slow signals or possible freezes in a video.

–Technical difficulties are the one downside to online lessons just simply by using a wifi signal. These difficulties will happen, we just gotta work through them. If it is a weak signal and the videos stops, just let the teacher know and keep listening the best you can until the signal is restored. If the call drops, wait for the teacher to call you back. Most of these problems are the network not the device. Try to get close to your wifi router if your signal is weak and make sure other family members are not on wifi slowing the signal down. We can work through these problems when they occur. We just have to be patient!




I hope this helps clarify some of the preparation needed for online lessons. There are actually many benefits to online lessons. I already mentioned how it develops a students ear as they’re listening to their teacher play or explain something. IThey are required to apply what they’ve heard, not shown. t also exercises their problem solving skills by letting them have a little bit more independence with their learning. I have seen a students light bulb “turn on” more often during online lessons because they are required to apply what they are being taught with just one mode of learning which forces them to focus a little more than they would at a normal lesson. At an in-person lesson, they can definitely begin to rely on rote memory or copying rather than thinking about the instructions of the teacher. Online lessons help them internalize their understanding and help them realize they have the knowledge they just need to apply it. Which in turn gives them more confidence as a musician! 

I wouldn’t say this is the BEST way of learning music but for some, it is easier for their schedules and they are able to still take music lessons if they do not have a music teacher in their local area. I think it is a great substitute when needing to teach virtually. Sure, an in-person lesson is ideal but this is beneficial too! We have definitely come a long way.


NOTE: I wrote this blog post last week in light of the corona virus outbreak expecting to need it sometime in the future with the way things have been going. This change, online lessons, will be implemented in the studio this coming week. I did not anticipate this change so soon as I am sure all of us have been a little taken back by all the changes the last few weeks. I want to stress the importance of keeping up a routine with your children (my students) especially in music. Everything has changed in their little world and one of the most amazing outlets in a child’s life is the ability to learn music and enjoy being able to express themselves on their instrument. I don’t want to see this taken away from them too. I want to still be able to provide this creative/educational outlet for them during these times. Everything is unknown, but at least the structure of practice, learning, achieving and growing as a musician will still be there.


I appreciate each of you! And know that I am praying for you all and wish you health and safety!









Parents: Good technique and what to look for at home….




If you are a parent of a young child who is taking music lessons, you may have questioned “Are they doing this correctly?” or “Is there something I need to watch for while they play?” and the answer to those questions is a resounding YES. We music teachers get to work with your kids for half an hour to 45 minutes and while this time is exhausted and used to the most effectiveness possible, it will never make up for the time spent at home practicing what they’ve been taught.


I love this podcast called Piano Parent Podcast. It is such a helpful resource for me and for many piano parents! I was recently listening to a podcast about technique and the different approaches pertaining to student learning and musical development. For instance, hand position….what should the child’s hand look like? What about height level of their hands? Where do their feet go if they can’t touch the floor? All these things have been addressed in their lesson, but most times the set up is different at home. How can you ensure your child is getting the most out of their practice? By making sure of a few things below:


  1. Bench position

One of the first things a student learns is the distance between them, the player and the instrument, the piano. A good practice to get into in the beginning is for the student to stick their arm straight out with a  clenched fist touching the fall board (the part that falls over the keys while in the upright position, or for a grand piano the back piece directly behind the keys). This should ensure based on the child’s arm length that they are the right distance from the piano. They can move their bench accordingly to ensure there is not a bend in their elbow (while holding their arm straight out) putting them too close or that they are not too far away. If the child does not have a fallboard in the instance they are using a keyboard, simply judge the distance by their kneecaps just barely covered by the keyboard. If their thighs are halfway underneath the keyboard, they are too close. Keep a close eye on this because young students tend to move closer to the piano than they should, causing more trouble with their hand position and not allowing them to have any free range of motion in their arms. This could lead to tougher problems if they habit is not solidified at a young age.


2. Hand position

There are many, many, many methods out there for correct hand position. Sometimes I’ll tell the students they should pretend to hold a bubble, or form a C with their thumb and fingers. But basically, the most natural hand position is one where that is most relaxed. When you rest your hand around your knee cap or relaxed to your side, your hand is the EXACT position it should rest on the piano. This is not always the case when playing full chords or octaves BUT young students will not be tackling that quite yet. You should be looking for their knuckles to be bent, but not “claw like”. Their thumb should rest on it’s side slightly extended outwards and their pinky should be resting relaxed at a somewhat curved position (not straight). If they look like they are playing with the pads of their fingers, remind them to play on their fingertips right below their nail. (THIS IS WHY PIANIST CAN’T HAVE LONG NAILS!) Their wrist should NOT fall below the keys. This causes tension in the hand muscles and actually cause injury. They need to keep their wrist level with their first set of slightly bent knuckles. 

Now the dexterity of a child’s hand and fingers is not the same as a 10 year old or an adult, so be patient with those fingers that want to stick up or can’t seem to press a note with a curved knuckle. They will learn to control them the more experienced they get. It takes time. Some children have a more natural ability and others have to work harder at it. The important thing is to RELAX and play naturally. With practice those muscles will develop and get stronger so that they can play with a curved hand position.


3. Posture, foot and seat position.

Posture: Of course, posture is VERY important when it comes to learning to play the piano. Slouching is not good. Crossed legs are not good. Even standing up (unless the piano is higher like a band style keyboard) is not good either. It is important for a students to learn what is SHOULD feel like at the piano. They should be sitting with good posture, shoulders back and relaxed, head looking forward at their music. They should not be scooting on the bench either. If they need to reach higher keys, they need to lean and use their arms to reach (exceptions would be for very small students).

Foot position: This is such a tough one because every child is growing and the young ones can’t quite touch the floor. For those that cannot touch the floor, if possible, bring a little bench underneath their feet to help them with their posture and keep them grounded. Often they will want to scoot closer to the edge of the bench so that they can touch the floor which causes them to move too close. This should be avoided. If they can reach the floor, just be sure of the following:

Seat position: Their bum should only be sitting on the front half of the bench. In other words, they should not be sitting on the entire bench! For tall students, like growing teenagers, they need to watch this because they tend to forget how fast they are growing and do not move the bench far enough out. If an older students legs are almost fully underneath the bench and their elbows are sticking past their ribs, they are too close. They need to scoot the bench back, position themselves on the front half, back and bum would start in the middle with the back straight and shoulders relaxed. Young students need to do this as well so that they are establishing a good habit.



There is so much more to technique than these few things but these are the MAIN topics of concern. Having the right position for all of these will set an amazing foundation for the student. Take a look at your youngster at home and be sure they have the equipment they need to practice properly. Do they need an actual bench rather than a chair to be at the proper height? Or you may want to put some books underneath them temporarily to bring their height up. Are they sitting so close to the keyboard their elbows are extended past their sides? You may want to remind them to scoot back and not sit too close to the piano and be sure their elbows are bent but not at a 90 degree angle. Are they sitting up straight and tall? Remind them real musicians do not slouch! Does their hand look too flat? They may need to be reminded to have a rounded shape and not to drop their wrist below the keys. Do you hear clicking while they are playing? You may need to make sure they cut their nails! (my pet peeve is long nails while playing the piano!) If a ballerina or a basketball player are required to have good technique while practicing their craft, a musician should as well.


Of course, I am always here to help, adjust, coach, love and teach. If a students shows signs of repetitious bad technique, I will definitely correct it and make sure they know how to practice properly. However, I cannot be there all the time. Parents, you are my eyes and ears! You can be a huge help and encouragement by following through with these little tips. It will not take much especially in the beginning. It will set them up for success!

Why Valentines Day is one of the best holidays!


It’ been a minute since I’ve written a blog post. We have been so busy with continuing house renovations, ministry and a very busy work schedule. Just this past week alone we have had 3 appointments whether it be doctor or dentist or eye appointment. There’s just never enough time!


I wanted to take a moment to just express my thanks to my parents/students and families. Valentines Day is tomorrow and I do not think this holiday should be overlooked. It’s such a sweet day. You don’t have to be “in love” romantically to be able to enjoy this holiday.

One of the reasons why I love Valentines Day so much is because it breaks up the winter for my students. Winter can be tough as we all know, especially in the north. New England is no exception. We haven’t had too tough of a winter this year but we still get “cabin fever” as they call it. Valentines Day is smack dab in the middle of what a lot of music teachers would call “the dry spell”. It is tough to get motivated for a lot of music students but Valentines Day gives us a chance to spread some musical love.

I like having my students write on little hearts or cards the reason why they love music. The reason why I do this because it helps them to actually think for a second why they are doing what they are doing. If you don’t love something you’re not going to put your whole heart into it! Finding these reasons “Because it’s fun!” “Because it challenges me” are all insights to a children’s heart and mind. If they do not have a reason, helping them think through a few is also helpful. It is very possible you could inspire a student and help them gain motivation!


I also love giving them Valentines. It doesn’t happen every year but I think expressing some gratitude to the student will do a teacher’s heart good. It also helps the student have a physical expression from the teacher to affirm all of their hard work. Praise is an excellent source of motivation but a written word from the teacher about how well the student is doing could go a long way! My Valentines came from Target this year. I’ve done DIY Valentines too. Any small expression is totally worth it.


So you may think Valentines day is only for the romantics but you’re wrong! Taking advantage of every holiday to show students you care is important.


Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

Private lessons or Group classes?

Piano private lessons have been around for centuries. All the famous composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, etc) all had a teacher or several teachers to train them. Private lessons are one of the most effective ways of teaching a musical instrument. You get specialized help, someone that knows your strengths and weaknesses, but also knows how to motivate you to get to the next level.  You have that one on one connection, but you working together. Teachers are a personal coach and maybe even a little bit of a psychiatrist at times!

Piano teachers have recently been branching out the last few decades. Games and activities are not uncommon in a private lesson. Fun repertoire and story-like music is also another avenue of learning. Another aspect of music teaching that has grown the last few years is group lessons. Group lessons are not only popular now, THEY’RE VERY EFFECTIVE. Don’t get me wrong, that private lesson is important and necessary, but group lessons are so good for a young musician as well.


Here’s a summarized list of what a group class can help your child learn and do:

  1. Motivates them to apply their musical understanding through games and activities.

Let me just talk about this one….. when a student learns a new concept about music, it is now their responsibility to apply this to a piece of music they are currently learning or in the future. With a game, this musical concept takes on a whole different meaning by reinforcing their knowledge and understanding. Games and activities are geared to be educational AND fun. Mostly, they are there to help them find different ways to apply their knowledge and understanding of music.

2. Inspire them to pursue excellence.

Students are motivated by many different things. Some students have extrinsic motives (outward praise or award) and some are motivated intrinsically (inner desire and motivation to do their best). Students who perform are most likely going to want to get to a higher level. At a group lesson, when students see their friends/peers playing and performing (or getting involved in a group class and apply THEIR knowledge of music) it  makes them feel inspired to learn more.

3. Introduces new musical information.

It is much easier for students to learn harder concepts in this format rather than trying to introduce it to them through the one on one style. For example, I probably would not introduce eighth notes to a 5 year old, but in a group lesson setting, I can tell said 5 year old what an eighth note is and they most likely will remember the information without ever playing an eighth note. It’s amazing what their little minds can remember! Now when I introduce the eighth note in their private lesson, they already know what it looks like. OQzYsgXZTtaBn0iQS%buQQ

4. Fosters camaraderie within the studio.

Students love to be encouraged. When they are encouraged, they will encourage others. And the circle goes around and around. It is so good for students to be teachable and to enjoy seeing their peers succeed.


5. Builds confidence.

When a student can see how far they have come and have that group class as a reference, it builds confidence because they realize how far they have come and they are not in this alone. This is not a comparison party, but just a time to recognize other musicians and be challenged to do our best. Regardless of age or level, all students should realize their potential.

There are many more reasons why group classes are helpful and beneficial. I barely touched the brim. I hope this sheds some light on the matter and that it helps parents see the importance and place for it.

I cannot wait for our Kick-off Class in a few weeks! I have some things planned (like an escape room….whatt?!?!) that I know the kids are going to enjoy.

Have a great rest of the summer!


Tips for Better Practice Habits

It’s the beginning of a new school year and everybody is going to be starting new routines and new schedules! I know I am! It is nice to have a fresh slate after summer break isn’t it?

I wanted to help some parents and students get off on the right foot when it comes to practicing this year because as we all know, without practice there cannot be a whole lot of improvement when it comes to music lessons. Don’t get me wrong, even if a student “forgets” to practice that week or doesn’t have time (ha! likely story!), it will never be a wasted lesson to me. I can always use that time to help a student work on certain problem areas or play an educatioal game with the. However, if the lack of practice continues it really doesn’t make much sense to instruct them further because the REAL progress comes from how little or how much a student is willing dedicate to practicing their instrument.


If you haven’t read my blog post on How a Practice Session Should Go or Should you Let Your Child Quit Lessons?  take a look at these. They may be helpful reads for you.

I decided to not only tell you what I do to help students stay on track with practice but creative things that YOU can do at home. Pinterest is a great resource. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort for any of these ideas. But it quite possibly could make your life easier.


Things that I do:

  1. Assignment Sheets

I give each student an assignment sheet with a list of the repertoire, a practice log, and other assignments (and page numbers!) of what they have to do that week. For the younger ones, I even put little stickies in their book. I always review with them what they should practice (repetition is the mother of all learning!) before they head out the door. They know what I expect and if they ever have a question, 9 times out of 10, I will have written it down on the Assignment Sheet.

2. Incentive Programs

To break up the year, I like to do incentive programs for all the students in my studio. One year we did Music Olympics, another we did Mission:Music with an Around the World theme. I do these to give the students goals so they have something strive for other than “getting the practice in”. It makes it more interesting and adds a healthy dose of competition amongst the students within the studio.

3. Rewards

Who doesn’t like candy? I mean seriously, I would still take an AirHead for practicing my weekly hours! But not just candy, I offer rewards for the incentive programs AND awards at the END OF THE YEAR. If you’ve been to my recitals you’ve seen this. Whether they earn a reward for completing a program or win a yearly award such as the Little Musicians Award at the Spring Recital. It is all so they will strive to do their best.

4. Recitals

Yes, recitals are motivators. If they don’t practice, they will not play well. This is why having your child be apart of as MANY recitals as possible not only gives them performance experience, it WILL motivate them! I guarantee it!


Some Idea for Parents

Other than setting up a good routine and setting the expectation for your child to practice (which are invaluable by the way!), here are some cute ideas you could incorporate this year!

  1. Practice Jars– I saw this on Pinterest and thought about doing it myself but since I already do so many other programs I figured I’d pass it on to you all! Such a great idea of making it fun at home!
  2. For the Crafty Child– Another great idea from Andrea and Trevor Dowe who have fantastic resources that I use all the time!
  3. The Good ole’ Chore Chart– There are tons of chore charts out there, there’s no point to link any. Make it apart of your child’s life to practice piano. We require them to do homework right? We bring them to soccer practice? Piano practice CANNOT be an option, or it will be an option and well….we all know what happens when it is OPTIONAL.
  4. Take the timer away– Yes, you read right! One of the first things you will probably start doing to develop a good habit is to put a 30 minute timer on and require Susie to sit on the piano bench for 30 minutes. But did you know sometimes they DO NOT PRACTICE during that 30 minutes because they are in anticipation for the timer to go off! Now, first off, they DO need to be practicing more than 10 minutes if they are at a somewhat mature age, but the timer might be cramping their style. Have them practice their songs 3 times each! Check the clock when they start and check it when their done. Did they get at least 30 minutes in? You might find that they got more! Thirty being the minimum, getting more practice is allowed! Sometimes those short bursts of practice turn into longer more inspirational practices because they’re not constantly looking at the timer because they can’t wait to go play outside!
  5. Be Involved– An involved parent is never a failing parent. You’re going to help your child so much by asking questions and being a part of their practice especially in the beginning. For different ages and different personalities, this may look different but either way, if you’re interested they will excel. Not just because you’re paying for it, but because kids naturally want to make their parents proud. Take a look at this handout for some other tips such as having the piano in a central area in your home instead of hidden away in their room. You are the core of your child’s interests and success. No pressure right?

And most of all, don’t be discouraged. No one is perfect and we will have some falls here and there. If you feel like you need to work on some of these things at home, don’t try to tackle them all! Try one and implement it until it becomes natural. The most important thing is to see the value of music in your child’s life and keep plugging along! Your kids will thank you.


And I am thankful for my student’s parents! Keep up the hard work guys!

Roadtrip USA Music Camp

According to my students, this year’s Music Camp was the best so far!! A big thank you to Sheryl Welles and Notable Music Studio  for the resources for this camp. All the games were invented by her as well as the basic ideas of the camp. I tweaked it only slightly to make it fit into 4 days and adapted it to my needs. Road trip USA was a huge success!



I could not have done it this year (being a new young mom) without my teen students helping  me. I decided to give them an opportunity themselves to teach a few lessons and they all did a fantastic job! I was so proud of how they handled everything from assisting students, directing gamesto teaching their own conceptual lessons.

Karissa taught note names C through C on the treble staff. 
Olivia taught music terminology!
Shelby taught rhythm to the students! Here they are clapping the note values. 


Every day had a fun theme or location we traveled to. The students LOVED getting to dress up according to the theme. It was the exciting part of the camp…”what’s tomorrow’s theme going to be?!”. All in the fun and games, there were lessons about rhythm, note values and music terminology. Some students had never had piano lessons or music lessons, and their were telling us at the end of the week what fermata or Treble Clef signs meant or how many beats a quarter note or half note were. They even learned quite a few notes on the staff. My two oldest students were our team captains so they learned how to be good leaders and help their team work together! There was something for everyone. Students with or without experience.



Playing with Boomwackers! Great for ensemble playing!


Each student got one of these picture but Betsy’s face in this one is priceless!
Noah lost his first tooth at camp! Look at that smile! ;-D

By far the students most favorite day was the Carnival Day. I made this the last day because I knew it would be such a fun day. Unfortunately, the risk of rain was too great so I had to have a plan B and move it to Community Baptist Church. The kids were not disappointed though! They loved it!



We had such a great time! It was so awesome to see the older students helping the younger and seeing them learn but also have such great attitudes for their team the whole week. I would do this camp again in a heartbeat!

Here is a video I made with some more pictures (credit goes to Olivia for all the AWESOME pictures!) and fun thematic music!

Could not have asked for a better group! Thanks for making my job so fun guys!



Sacred Music Recital


Every year in early Spring, I love to have my students focus for a time on a Sacred piece and play it at our Sacred Music Recital at a local retirement home called Solstice Senior Living. The activities director, Kelly, enjoys having the children interact with the seniors living there. What I love most about it is the students get to use their musical gifts to be a blessing to someone else. I hope that it teaches them to ultimately give their gifts to the One who gave them the talent in the first place! They always do a great job! It is also another great performing opportunity!

Sacred music holds a special place in my heart. As many of my families know, I am not only a teacher but a church pianist. I have a passion for church music! I love writing my own sacred arrangements and accompanying for solos, ensembles or choirs. It is one of the reasons I play the piano at all! I was a mere 15 years old when I first started playing for church. Music ministry is a huge part of my life and always will be. I encourage all of my students to be apart of the music ministry in their church if they have a home church. It is so wonderful to be able to use your gift for the Lord.



Victor, my hilarious pre-school student, played “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”. He is such a cutie!




Cole played “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”

What a great truth!




Aeyla played “Amazing Grace”– many folks were humming along to this one!




Silas did a great job! This was his first piano recital! He played “Come, Christians Join to Sing”




Taryn played “All Creatures of our God and King”



Lauren played “He Leadeth Me”



Sarai played a family favorite “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”



Evelynn played “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”IMG_0748


Capri played “For the Beauty of the Earth



Karissa played “The Old Rugged Cross” – I had a senior come up to me and say this was her favorite song. It brought her to tears!




Nevaeh played a beautiful arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me”–she even improvised to make it a little more advanced!


Olivia played a favorite “In the Garden”


Olivia and I played a duet together. Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. It was a fun one!


Of course, all the students did a great job! I love this recital. It is simple but yet such a great opportunity!

Pops and Popcorn Recital 2018

We celebrated St. Patrick Day with the Pops and Popcorn Recital this past Saturday! We had a great time! It was a repeat recital for a few and two new students first ever recital but they did so well! Unfortunately, I missed getting a picture of Lauren because we played a duet together and I didn’t think to hand the camera to someone else!

Students have so many opportunities to play and perform in  my studio. Not only with my own recitals provided but through a group called Music Teachers Association. I am thankful for the Middlesex New London Music Teachers Chapter I have the privilege of being a part of. It allows me to collaborate with other local teachers and gives my own students a way to meet other students that are not apart of my studio. MTA has a wide range of programs to choose from throughout the year. I highly recommend every music teacher to get involved in their local MTNA chapter! It really helps to connect with other local teachers. Some whom I have learned so much from!

Here is a link where you can join the association and reap many benefits!




Sarai played the Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Tchaikovsky arranged by Faber. IMG_0712


Cole played When the Saints Go Marching In


Nevaeh played Appaloosa Pony by Martha Mier (this is also her piano festival piece!)IMG_0718

Karissa performed Marmalade Rag by AlfredIMG_0721

Evelynn chose to play Pirates of the North Sea by FaberIMG_0722

Aeyla played Rusty Old Bike by Faber


And Lauren and I played Pacabels Canon. It was her first recital ever as well as duet.
She did so wonderful!


I am proud of each student that participated! It is so good for them to have a chance to perform something fun and of their choice in a low key setting.


Happy Friday!

Practice, Practice, Practice


It took years of training on my parents part to teach me that the dishes needed to be done thoroughly before I did anything else. That trait has carried through my adult years so much so that even when I am tempted to go to bed with a  sink full of dishes, I still make sure the dishes have been done. Not because I want to but because I know they have to get done. Much like chores, practice can seem like a chore as well. Practicing piano is just one of those tough chores for children. It requires much discipline and hard work, which neither come naturally to anyone, especially children. Most of us are procrastinators aren’t we?

This can be a struggle for just about every one of my students. And if it is not now, it will be one day in the future. Hmm lets see….play games, watch tv, or practice piano…..yeah practice piano is usually not the first thing any piano student jumps up and down to do. But it is expected of each of my students. I do my best to make it fun for them by giving treats, incentives and extra programs. Eventually, when the thrill of a piece of candy wears off, that’s when discipline should kick in. They JUST DO IT because that’s what they have been trained to do. No questions. No excuses.

I’ve had many parents worry that there is something wrong with their child because they don’t LOVE practicing their instrument. Or they’ve reminded the child over and over again and they somehow “forget”. Or that student IS really diligent about practicing but seems to be in a rut because they are just going through the motions. I say to those parents, here’s how you can help them!

First, you need to know what I expect of them, and how their practice should look. Or should I say sound? I go over this ALL THE TIME with them in their lesson but do they hear everything I’m saying. Not always. Here’s what I’m saying to them only in an outlined and more detailed form. For your benefit


  • Every student has a required level of scales. Some of them have extra things like arpeggios (fast broken chords), hanon (exercises) and cadences (chord progressions) They should be practicing these BEFORE anything else. Even if they know them by heart, it is meant to be reinforced with repetition so they do not forget and to be a warm up for their fingers. Yes, warm up. Just like you stretch before you exercise. 


    A fancy word for pieces or songs. They have a list of songs they are working on in their books or for recitals. Some are from the lesson books, separate pieces of music, or other supplemental music I give them. Here’s the steps they go through when they are learning a NEW piece. Most of this applies as well if they are review pieces.

    Learning the piece

  • Analyze the piece- recognize notes, timing, dynamics, articulation


  • They should be keeping a steady beat all the way through like a drum. They should be starting out slow then increasing their speed depending on the tempo of the piece.
  • When they get to tough spots, they are told to circle it and drill it. (we have usually gone over these pieces together in their previous lesson unless it is a sight reading piece)
  • They are told to count out loud if they have trouble with timing

    Reviewing the piece

    1. Ask yourself, did I play that correctly? did I miss anything? A crescendo, an accent mark?

Fine tune

Expression and phrasing are vital when learning a new piece!

Students should be trying to interpret and feel the music.

I encourage them to think about what the song is saying and get a picture in their mind. Example, if a piece sounds peaceful, think of a waterfall in the forest to help them picture the music in their mind.



  • record yourself
  • play it for someone
  • triple check you’re playing everything correctly
  • ask your teacher for advice or help

Theory homework

Students usually have a theory book to work through. If they do it the first day after their lesson, they won’t forget to do it! If they have a question, tell them to WRITE IT DOWN!!! so they can ask their teacher


Write your practice time down

I ask students once they’ve reached level 1, they need to write it down themselves. The parent should not be required to do this unless the student is very young. (30 min, 24 min, 47 min, etc.)


Compose and create

There is nothing wrong with them sitting down at the piano at times other than their practice time. Five minutes here or there or more They need this brain release from all of their assignments. They should be able to enjoy it! Encourage them to “make something up”. Ask them to play at a different time than their practice. It will make them feel good! (if someone asked you to do something you’re good at, wouldn’t you want to please them and do it?)

I try to encourage students to compose their own melody, make up their own song or try to learn one of your favorites by ear!


So now that you know what practice is SUPPOSED to look like. Here’s what it SHOULD NOT look like (caps for emphasis)


  1. brushing through their pieces half heartedly and not fixing mistakes
  2. forgetting to play their scales every single time and maybe practicing them once a week
  3. playing their song once and moving on
  4. playing one song that they like OVER AND OVER again.
  5. forgetting to do their theory homework several weeks in a row and simply shrugging and saying “I forgot”.

These are just a few examples but ultimately….

If you are not hearing an improvement of their piece throughout the week, THEY ARE NOT PRACTICING. Sure they are playing the piano, but they are not PRACTICING. There is a difference. Back me up on this parents! I need your help!


What can you do???

Let me say this with emphasis. YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT JOB!!!

I am the teacher, but most importantly you are the your kid’s BIGGEST FAN. Here are some things you can do to help your child and me as well!


  1. make it possible

    • Develop  a routine. Find a time that best suits the student to practice. Not when their tired and hungry. Give them a set time in their day and help them stick with it.
  2. enforce a time

    • You can set a time all day long but if you do not enforce this time, it does the child no good. Remember, children are procrastinators. (And so are we!) They will probably not volunteer to practice. (usually, not always)
  3. remind often

    • After you’ve set up a routine and enforced it, try not to lord over them all the time. To develop a disciplined student, give them the opportunity to exercise responsibility by initiating piano practice on their own. The muscles won’t be very strong right now, but they will flex it every once in a while. When they don’t, gently remind by asking “have you practiced your piano today?”
  4. pop in every once in a while, ask a question, be interested.

    Kids love it when they can TEACH what they know to an adult. It solidifies what they know. Ask a questions like “tell me what note that is?” “Why did you play that part softly?” “Can you show me how to do that?” If you know nothing about piano, you  know what your kid will think? “My mom is wanting ME to show her how to do what I can do!”

  5. encourage and approve more!

    You’ve cannot encourage too much. And more than just encourage, approve. Affirm them by saying “I’m proud of you for being diligent about practicing every week.” or “Your recital piece makes me wish I could play the piano”. You are approving their hard work. It goes further than just saying “good job!” or “that was pretty!”. You’re approving not just their music, but their character and their very person. Kids need their parents encouragement more than they will ever let on!


For some, this may be nothing new, but for others it may give you some ideas. Remember your role in these student’s musical education, parents. It is important. Your involvement  in your child’s piano practice could make a huge difference!

Remember, it’s not practice makes perfect, it’s PERFECT practice makes perfect!

A Classical Christmas Recital

We had a beautiful recital this past Christmas! Our theme was A Classical Christmas so the music was centered around none other than…classical music! The students loved being able to play either their favorite Christmas carol or a classical piece we don’t typically hear on the radio. Over the course of the Fall, students learned about composers Bach, Handel and Tchaikovsky all of which composed very famous classical and christmas music. Just look how cute these kiddos are! They all did a wonderful job!



Along with the good music, we had awesome refreshments made by the parents of our students. Some delicious fudge and cookies as well as hot chocolate was tastefully and beautifully presented to us by Market 31 Stylist Company.  They always do a phenomenal job at these kind of events making it extra special for us all to enjoy.



My heart is alway so overwhelmed at a recital because it shows show much concentrated effort and hard work the students put in all year round. Finally, they are able to relish is the feeling of victory and accomplishment! And of course, everybody loves Christmas time and the “extra good” feelings we all get during that season. It is rewarding to see students do well and apply what they are learning in their lessons.

A big thank you goes to Michal Fourman for providing these pictures for me and to Jim Stanton for taking care of our sound and live-stream. (Grandparents were able to watch from afar!)

Can’t wait for next year!