Spooky Half-Steps

Level 1, Lesson Book, Pg. 40 In this video, Nancy guides Phillip through a “spooky half-step” activity. This compositional game actively engages Phillip and allows him to demonstrate his understanding of half-steps in a creative and expressive way. Short creative forays at the lesson allow the student’s personality to emerge, reinforce theory skills, and are […]


Stovetop Staccatos

Level 1, Technique and Artistry, Pg. 12 Vivian’s popcorn is crisp and bouncy. The white keys are a “stovetop” sure to produce “super” staccatos, whether loud or soft. A simple F-A-C accompaniment keeps the beat steady and reinforces the staccato. It also leads to an improvised exchange between “talking” popcorn pans. Vivian happily jumps into […]


A Family of Sailors

Level 1, Lesson Book, Pg. 33, Russian Sailor Dance Playing in different ranges sounds different and feels different. “Old,” “Young Adult,” and “Child” sailors have separate moods, dynamics, and speeds. The accompaniment varies, too, in keeping with the “age” and tempo. At slower tempos there is time and need for a full-arm staccato, but at […]


Imagination, Harmonization, and Tonicization

Level 1, Lesson Book, Pg. 38, Two-Note March Talk about bringing tonic and dominant to life! What begins as a simple piece expands into ear training and harmonization. All these activities sharpen Emily’s attention, listening skills, and imagination in the most natural, musical way. Changing ranges and tempos shows Emily that tonic and dominant function […]


Malagueña: Melodic Flourishes and Modal Harmonies

Level 3A, Performance Book, Pg. 16, Malagueña Spanish music invites liberties—like bending the rhythms and adding melodic flourishes to the modal harmonies. The triplets in this dance make elastic circles, and Sam adds a bit of original rhythmic spice to the melody. The melodic dips in the middle section surge into a mini cadenza that […]


Colorful Crescendos and Sunset Sounds

Level 2A, Technique and Artistry Book, Pg. 12, Colorful Sunset Guiding a student to play artistically connects movements with sounds. This happens gradually as the student focuses on certain elements of music-making, then begins to fuse these as pieces vary and become more sophisticated. Here the sun glows warmly as Kai builds a careful crescendo, […]


Teaching Beginners with Special Needs

Written by Randall Faber and Mary Kathryn Archuleta If you are a piano teacher, you have likely considered opening your studio, and your heart, to the 1 in 150 children diagnosed with an autistic-spectrum disorder or other impairment. Music lessons provide the structural regularity that children with special needs require. And, within that structure, it […]