Happy Teaching Moments | June 2018

1. Attending Colorado State Music Teachers Association conference – read my post about it

2. Developing summer practice incentive – all the students will be pooling their summertime practice. 30 minutes of practice = 1 round sticker. When the gum ball machine is filled, everyone wins a prize!

3. Students filling up the practice incentive quickly!20180620_193706

4. Starting four new students

5. Time to catch my breath and enjoy my family, friends and summer



Happy Teaching Moments | May 2018

These are the moments in May that made me smile.

  1. Two studio recitals – there was a full crowd of supportive families and the students played well

2. My son played the drum to accompany a piano student playing “Havana”

3. Sweet gifts from students

4. Achievement Day – I had the privilege of judging technique, sightreading and ear training

5. Achievement Day student art projects

6. Framing my master’s degree and displaying it in the studio. I realized it’s been fifteen years since I earned it!

7. Student: “Sightreading is always fun.” And he asked to do more sightreading cards! Read my post describing our sightreading challenge here.


7 Happy Teaching Moments (April 2018) Plus Recommended Reading and Listening

“The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

In my teaching life I am grateful for moments like these…

  1. Teaching with open windows, fresh spring breezes and birds chirping their accompaniments
  2. Student taking a music theory class in school and bringing the workbook to a lesson for further clarification on chord qualities. The theory geek in me was so happy.
  3. Recording piano pieces for students on their phones. They listen to the recording during home practice and have an example of what they’re working towards.
  4. Chatting with a student about how to manage frustration, then the next week finding his hand-written notes on what I had said in his binder.
  5. Recital and Achievement Day prep – running through scales, arpeggios, memorized music
  6. New student: “Dogs and piano are the best things in life.” I totally agree.
  7. A student’s sibling doing little jobs for me during his sister’s lesson – close blinds against afternoon sun, organize stickers and prize bin


Recommended reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Read my review here.

Recommended listening:

Billy Joel’s Fantasies and Delusions

This album was so beautiful. I never knew that Billy Joel composed classical piano music until an adult student brought this CD for me to listen to.  I’m planning to order the music score and try my hand at it. It’s not easy!

The Amazon description: “Fantasies & Delusions is the next chapter in Billy Joel’s life-long love affair with the piano. Before the world-renowned “Piano Man” ever discovered pop, he grew up studying classical piano, already feeling the influences of Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann and many others. Although he ran away with the seductress named Rock’n’Roll as a teenager, 30 years later he returns to where he began to pay tribute to the music that made him fall in love with music in the first place. This matching folio features all 12 pieces from the album, as performed by Richard Joo.”

Happy Teaching Moments (March 2018)

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -G.K. Chesterton

Some happy moments in March:

  1. Cleaning out the pencils and highlighters that fell into the piano!20180301_091050
  2. New studio-wide sight reading challenge using Piano Safari sightreading cards
  3. Choosing pieces for the upcoming recital – student’s face lighting up for the song “Something Just Like This” and another student exclaiming “This is fun!” when given a new piece 🙂
  4. Student (upon finding a C chord in a difficult piece of music): “It’s almost too good to be true!” 😃
  5. New bookshelf which makes it so easy to find and access my music
  6. Students who have topped the practice challenge chart twice already this year

Soundtrack (Some of the non-method pieces students are playing):

  1. Fur Elise by Beethoven
  2. Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 No. 6 by Mendelssohn
  3. Prelude in e minor Opus 28, No. 4 by Chopin
  4. Sonatina in CM, Op. 49 No. 1 by Heinrich Lichner
  5. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin
  6. Philip Wesley pieces – especially Dark Night of the Soul and The Approaching Night
  7. Blueberry Girl by Sam Stryke
  8. Timeline Adventure (from Favorite Solos Book 3), select pieces from Celebrated Jazzy Solos Books 2 and 3, Celebration Bells and Dreamscape from Celebrated Lyrical Solos Books 1 and 3
  9. Pieces from Piano Pronto: Above and Beyond, Awakening from Let’s Quest Volume 2
  10. The Fifth Session from Teach Piano Today’s The Beethoven Sessions
  11. Hey There Delilah by Tom Higgenson
  12. All of Me by John Legend
  13. Havana by Camila Cabello
  14. Coldplay – Clocks and Something Just Like This 
  15. Across the Universe by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Several of these songs are listed in my post Favorite Beautiful Modern Piano Music for Teens

What I’m Playing

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel – read about it here

What were some of your favorite teaching moments from March?

Happy Teaching Moments (February 2018)

I have a confession to make…I like the month of February. Yes, sometimes it feels as if I’ll be stuck in winter forever and I absolutely do yearn for warmer weather. But I love this month because we get so much accomplished in the piano studio. There’s not much distracting us for weeks on end, so long-term goals (skills, musicianship, etc.) can be patiently worked on, seen improvement upon, and celebrated.

I love it. Here are some of the things in the studio that made me smile this month:

  1. Flashcard challenge 
  2. Gifts from students
  3. Lots of students finishing books!
  4. Finding new music like Philip Wesley’s Dark Night of the Soul
  5. Beautiful hands of an adult piano student. They have done much work and seen much life, and produce beautiful music at the piano.
  6. New adult student giving me a hug when she left the studio
  7. Attending local concerts
  8. Master class at Colorado University in Boulder for a high school student


Book I’ve been reading (slowly!):

The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine


What made you smile this month?

Happy Teaching Moments (January 2018)

I always enjoy January lessons so much. After the busy-ness of December, January feels like a dream. We are all ready for fresh new music and are usually quite motivated to buckle down into a daily practice routine. I feel like students generally improve their skills in these winter months quite a bit.

Here are some January studio happenings which made me smile:

  1. Student sight-reading through quite a bit of his method books over Christmas break
  2. New blinds and seating area means bright light and fresh feel
  3. Students jumping off the front steps after lessons – does this ever happen to you? I have a few students who I have recently observed hopping off the front porch steps as they leave the studio. I feel as though this is a happy expression of an enjoyed lesson and my heart jumps for joy when I observe this happiness. 🙂
  4. Teaching old pop songs to young students – “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. So much fun!
  5. Three new students! One seven year old beginner, one sixteen year old advanced student, and…
  6. New adult student who is returning to piano and is excited to practice and play again. Her enthusiasm has motivated her entire family to play again. 🙂


My January soundtrack (some of the pieces/composers I taught this month):

  • Haydn, Sonata in E minor
  • Dohnanyi, Rhapsody in C Major
  • Pachelbel Canon
  • Joplin, The Entertainer
  • Satie, Gymnopedie No. 1
  • Clementi, Sonatina in C
  • Mozart, Minuet and Trio
  • Chopin, Prelude in Db Major “Raindrop Prelude”
  • Beethoven, Six Variations
  • Willy Wonka, Pure Imagination
  • Lord of the Rings, Concerning Hobbits
  • Coldplay, Clocks
  • Yiruma, River Flows in You
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Benjamin Calypso
  • Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline

Pieces I played this month:20180129_141110I picked up level ten of Essential Piano Repertoire and was reminded how a good layout makes such a difference when learning music. I have played both these pieces before but really enjoyed playing them from this edition. 20180129_141008

Hexentanz (Witches’ Dance) Op. 17, No. 2 by MacDowell

What a fantastic piece! Full of fast finger work (more for RH than LH), chromatic double thirds and scales, large dynamic changes, and a wide range of expressive elements. This is an ideal piece for competitions, festivals and recitals.



Sonata L.23 by Domenico Scarlatti

This well-known sonata is cheerful and so fun to play. This colorful piece includes horn calls, Baroque trills, good finger work on repeated notes, and extensive playing at the piano or pianissimo level. Also an excellent choice for public performance.

Books I read this month:


The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum

Wow! This book was so good. I found myself underlining so many passages. I will be publishing a separate post on this book soon!

Happy Teaching Moments (December 2017)

Though December is a busy time for the piano studio, I am grateful to be part of the craziness. Here is what happened in my studio this month that made me smile:

  1. Christmas Piano Party – always a fun time! Get the details here.
  2. Sweet gifts and notes from students
  3. A teacher in our local teacher association retired and graciously sold her books and teaching supplies for a donation to her retirement fund. 🙂 I was able to pick up a piano footstool, several scores and a book. I have used all of these things many times already!20180129_095502
  4. Break time! Some down time and good novels hit the right note for rest and recovery.

This was the soundtrack of my life in the studio this month:

  • Deck the Halls
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  • Over the River
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away in a Manger
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • We Three Kings
  • Joy to the World
  • Silent Night
  • Let It Snow
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Feliz Navidad
  • Carol of the Bells
  • O Holy Night
  • Linus and Lucy
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • The First Noel
  • God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
  • We Are Santa’s Elves
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain
  • Silent Night
  • Jingle Bells
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • River Flows in You
  • What Child Is This
  • Rise Up, Shepherd