Six Happy Teaching Moments (November 2017) and Another Book Recommendation

November was a bit of a whirlwind with our major event, the Multiple Piano Festival and a family trip to NYC for Thanksgiving break. The students were excited to learn new Christmas and holiday music, and I loved teaching it to them!

  1. Student playing “River Flows In You” for her grandmother’s memorial service – the grandmother had that song as the ringtone on her phone
  2. High school students adding terms to white board with new terms coined from their names – “drisando” coined from “Drisana” 🙂20171101_093721
  3. After pulling out music from my music cabinet, student remarks: “I didn’t know you actually used those books. I thought they were for show.”
  4. Fourteen students passing auditions to participate in local Multiple Piano Festival28559
  5. Participating for the fifth year in the Multiple Piano Festival, a concert sponsored by our local teacher’s association20171118_203410
  6. Transcribing Christmas music for young students20171108_103637


And the book recommendation:

Language of the Spirit

Usually I read through books pretty quickly. However, this is a book to savor. I have loved every part of this book, and I feel that my interest in classical music has been reawakened. Swafford’s description of composers temperaments and their lives help us remember that composers were people. His analysis of their works is just deep enough to have real substance, but not too deep to get mired down in technical matters. His wider research into world events helps us remember that composers and music are shaped by the world and culture. One of the best parts of the book is Swafford’s recommendations for listening.

I got this book from the library, but I have already put it on my Christmas wish list. This will become a reference book in my studio.

Feel free to leave a note about happy moments in your teaching life!


Five Happy Teaching Moments (October 2017) And a Book Recommendation

My life is filled with music and my job gives me the opportunity to interact with great students and families on a near-daily basis. I am so thankful to be able to teach piano. Here are some things this month that made me happy:

  1. Inspector McEye – a cute teaching aid from Teach Piano Today20171002_174830
  2. Board of terms – see my blog post on this here20171024_124805
  3. Students auditioning for and being accepted into jazz bands at local schools. On a related note: attending their jazz band concerts is a happy moment too!
  4. 12 year old beginning student asking to learn “Linus and Lucy” for Christmas. I have been teaching it to him by rote and he is so excited as he learns each new section that he jumps off the bench! 🙂
  5. Young student excited to earn Mozart composer card20171025_102309


I love how our music teaching community comes together at conferences and through social media, podcasts and blogs. I have been listening to the new podcast, The Musicality Podcast (also recommended!) and enjoyed episode two featuring Natalie Weber, blogger at Music Matters. She mentioned a book entitled “The Piano Shop on the Left Bank” which intrigued me enough to request it from our local library. I loved it. Not only was it a sweet story of a man returning to his love of the piano after many years, but it was incredibly informative on different types of pianos, piano tuning, and even Parisian culture. I highly recommend it!

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

What have you been reading lately? And what has made you smile this month? Feel free to share!

Happies, September 2017

Our September has been mainly warm and summer-y, but these last few days have definitely turned into fall. Inside the studio my students and I have returned to weekly lessons with enthusiasm and joy. Here are some things that made me smile this month:

  1. Young student who had been away returning to studio with enthusiasm
  2. New resources and ideas for the new school year
  3. New curtains!20170919_124841
  4. Eleven year old student transposing music just for the fun of it
  5. Nine year old student improvising on jazz scale
  6. Six year old student’s invitation to come stay at his house if our house ever burned down. 🙂 “You can teach us on our piano!”
  7. New binder cover designed by student20170926_124309
  8. After complimenting a student on her fine performance, she replies: “I learned a lot from my teacher.” 🙂

What made you smile this month?


Happies, August 2017

August brings with it the last few weeks of summer vacation and the nervous excitement of back to school. Here are some things that made us smile in the studio this month:

  1. Student, age 11, after working on a difficult piece: “The good thing about me is that after trying something twice I get it.” That is a good thing!
  2. Quote from author Marisa de los Santos in her book Belong To Me concerning Bach’s fugues: “It’s music so complicated you can hear the math in it.”
  3. Flashcard challenge for younger students – a good review at the end of summer!20170808_093841
  4. Sibling completing puzzles while waiting in lessons20170721_073052
  5. Eight year old student: “I can play this song without looking!”20170821_170506
  6. Ten year old student practicing transposing a piece from C position to G position remarked “C position sounds dull like a dirty penny and G position sounds shiny like a bright penny!”
  7. Two high school students who decided to lengthen their lessons to 45 minutes so that we could have more time to learn longer, more complicated pieces

Happies, July 2017

20170725_094805It’s been a beautiful summer with beautiful things happening in the studio! Here are a few things that made my happy this month:

  1. The “secret garden” outside of my studio window is in full bloom.
  2. The shimmer of aspen trees outside my studio window provide beautiful accompaniment to our piano music.
  3. 6 year old student: “I smiled at your dog and she smiled back at me!”
  4. A student has been working on “Simple Gifts”, a piece which was played in our wedding. The student played the completed, polished piece in a lesson which happened to take place on our nineteenth wedding anniversary, July 25. It felt like the sweetest anniversary gift!
  5. New student learning “Old MacDonald” in Faber Primer Lesson book came to his lesson, sat at the piano, set up his fingers on the black keys, turned his face away and played the piece looking the opposite direction. He was so excited to surprise me with his trick!
  6. I was waxing eloquent as I related the facts of Haydn’s life to an eight-year-old student. I included exciting details such as Haydn living in a real castle, composing music for a real-live prince and for real kings and queens who came to visit. The student nodded with bright eyes. I was sure I was igniting his imagination and creating enthusiasm for the next piece he would learn by Haydn. The student responds by asking: “Yes, but do you know about the Emoji movie?” 🙂
  7. After offering a prize to a student who had practiced every day for three weeks: “Maybe I should have two.” 🙂
  8. A mother emailed to describe her children practicing at home: “Thank you for being such a great teacher!  My kids all love going to piano. Eddy is cracking me up…everybody else when they were starting would get frustrated when they’d make a mistake,  but Eddy just keeps saying “I’m getting so good!”
    So thank you!”

Happies, June 2017

There is so much to celebrate!

Here are a few things that made me smile this month:

  1. Starting summer lessons – a more relaxed lesson environment with more student-choice pieces
  2. Starting siblings in lessons – always fun to see different personalities within the same family
  3. New student’s family sitting in on a lesson and exclaiming at the end “I learned so much!”
  4. Advanced student asking to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” Of course you may!
  5. A studio puzzle to keep waiting siblings busy!20170718_124439

Happies, May 2017

The month of May was filled with many happy events in the piano studio!

  1. Our annual spring recital was wonderful. The kids played so beautifully, and I was thrilled.
  2. Parents, grandparents and supporters filled out Compliment Cards for the students during the recital. The students then read their compliments at their next lesson. I love our community coming together to support and encourage each other.
  3. Many parents and students gave beautiful gifts and wrote sweet thank you notes.
  4. Last lessons of the semester. What a terrific time to celebrate the many accomplishments of each student – practice, improvement at the piano, pieces learned. Each student is amazing in their own way.
  5. The accomplishments of Achievement Day
  6. The fulfillment of a year well-spent.