Representation in Music

A few weeks ago,  a parent reached out to me to let me know that she was struggling to find piano and music resources that represented her Black son. She wondered if I might have any resources where he could see himself represented.

It’s beneficial for children to see racial mirrors. They need role models, inspiration and validation. It’s also important that children who are white or from homogenous populations see others who don’t look like them represented. Not only does it reduce stereotypes and biases but it also give a more accurate window into the real world.

The music education world — myself included — has a long way to go when it comes to racial representation. I am committed to doing better (and always open to feedback). Within my paid courses — both in the content and the images — I work to include diverse representation.

I also have lots of free materials that are available to music students everywhere. Here is a current round-up of free resources from my own music education materials that represent non-white musicians. Continue reading “Representation in Music”

Piano Practice for Kids with ADHD

If your child has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), you probably are aware that practicing piano presents challenges. I have worked with many piano students who have ADHD. One of my own children was also diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago. Piano practice for kids with ADHD does not look the same as it does for a typically developing child. I am happy to say that through my own experiences as a mom and piano teacher, I’ve discovered some truly effective strategies when it comes to piano practice for kids with ADHD. Continue reading “Piano Practice for Kids with ADHD”

Piano Practice Tricks That Will Change Your Life

I sometimes feel as though I can’t come up with another way to motivate my strong-willed child to practice. I’ve tried all the piano practice tricks. I’m out of creativity.

Or maybe you have a wiggly worm who can’t sit still longer than a few minutes and you aren’t sure how to get anything accomplished.

Or maybe you have a perfectionist who becomes immediately frustrated when she makes her first mistake during piano practice. Continue reading “Piano Practice Tricks That Will Change Your Life”

Creating a Piano Practice Space

When a parent of a student calls me and says, “Johnny is really resistant to piano practice lately,” the first question I ask is, “Where is your piano located?”

More often than not, I’ll learn that a student’s piano is located in a cold, damp basement or in their bedroom, leading the student to feel like he’s “missing out on the action” when he goes to practice piano.

This doesn’t mean your piano practice space needs to be a Pinterest worthy room of expensive decor and laminated practice charts.

What SHOULD a piano practice space look like? Read on for my tips… Continue reading “Creating a Piano Practice Space”

May Member of the Month

          Meet Julie, Robert, Andrew and Rachel Gastler from Columbia, MO. Julie is a student in the Busy Moms program.  She is currently taking a brief  and unplanned hiatus from the piano due to injury.Last Friday she cut her right index finger with a table saw.  She still has a finger but is unable to play the piano at the moment. She says,  “That is by far the worst result of this injury.  I can manage not writing and am happy to be banned from washing dishes for a while, but my piano is calling me and I can’t answer.”   The good news is that she should be able to play again once she done healing, but it will be a while the stitches wont even come out for 2 weeks. Continue reading “May Member of the Month”

Identifying Intervals: Why It Matters

When a child learns to read there are many important components to becoming a fluent reader. A child must be able to identify letters and letter sounds, but if he is going to read fluently, he has to move past thinking of each individual letter and letter sound.

The same goes for becoming a fluent note-reader and music player. A proficient pianist isn’t thinking of all the individual notes when she plays a complicated piece of music (can you imagine having all those individual note names flying through your head as you played?!). Continue reading “Identifying Intervals: Why It Matters”

Holiday-Themed Musical Activities

As I sit down to write this post, the leaves are turning and the air is colder. Fall is here!

With so many upcoming seasons and holidays, I love to incorporate fun activities into my home studio and my own children’s musical learning. A few years ago, two of my 3rd grade students played a duet of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg and dressed as witches. I’ve never seen them so excited to play for a recital! Students also love the chance to learn holiday music that is familiar to them, and there’s so many opportunities to attend musical performances with your little one. Continue reading “Holiday-Themed Musical Activities”

Adding Games to Your Musical Learning

A few months ago I surveyed students in my online programs to ask what topic they wanted me to discuss on my Facebook Live broadcasts. I was expecting it to be something about practicing strategies, but overwhelmingly, they chose the topic of “Adding Games to Musical Learning.”

THIS is my specialty! I love making piano lessons and practicing fun, interactive and playful.

Watch the video below for some ideas to add practicing and theory games to your piano routine. Continue reading “Adding Games to Your Musical Learning”

Getting Back In The Groove

During August and September when my students return to piano lessons, frustration and disappointment abound!

Perhaps you’re a musician yourself or the parent of a musician and are witnessing this own struggle in your household. You had the best of intentions — you were going to have a schedule that included piano practice, you were going to keep structure and routine going, but alas….summer happens.

That’s okay! You’re normal. And you’re not alone. Continue reading “Getting Back In The Groove”

Making A Practice Plan.

At my high school, piano was a required “class”, and therefore, piano practices were something scheduled during the regular school day. I believed this to be a serious advantage because I no longer had to figure out a time to schedule practice between all the homework and extra-curricular activities that were beginning to fill my after-school hours.

The piano practices were held in the basement of our school building. Six to seven rooms were in the area with a piano in each, and a monitor would sit in the main area, strolling around and peering through the window into each practice room at regular intervals to make sure that students were, indeed, playing the piano and not reading books or doing other homework during this 40 minute period. (This was before cell phones, so you can only imagine the distractions that must take place now!) Continue reading “Making A Practice Plan.”