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method

Creating a Method for Structured Freedom

Music is fundamentally non-linear, yet method books tend to set a straight and narrow path out. The skills that are required to actually function at a professional level, to compose, improvise, interpret, perform, record, and read music, involve a group of mental, physical and emotional processing abilities that happen in different sequences for different people.…

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transformation

Transformation Through Music

What is it that causes a mistake to be repeated? Discovering the answer to this can bring about great transformations in a person’s life. I know, because my life was transformed when I discovered the answer. I watched one of my students struggling today. After watching her repeat her mistake more than three times, I…

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Piano Colors Post

You Always Have Permission to Be Creative

By the power invested in me as a Creative Piano Teacher, I hereby formally invest you with eternal, non-revokable permission to be creative, whenever you want, however you want, on any instrument, for as long as you want, each time you work on or play music. I am not in charge of whether or not…

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LadyBrokenPianoRobStoneLessCropped

Finding the Point of Failure

Anna was making the same mistake again. I listened to her repeat it flawlessly, as if the mistake were written on the score. I witnessed her reach a point of failure, and then completely avoid facing it. Was she even aware of it? Was it silently threatening her self image to admit that she was…

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Teach pop music

How To Teach Pop Music to Students Without Ruining Their Reading Skills

Pop quiz: How could learning to sail teach you to climb a mountain? To put it another way, do you teach pop music by insisting a student read 150 year old sheet music first? I always ask my students what they want to learn in their first lessons. They don’t always have a straight answer, but they…

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seven reasons to study music

Music Lessons are not a Playdate: Seven Reasons to Study Music

I recently had a very awkward phone call with a parent who had some serious concerns about “paying all this money for my kid to have a playdate”. It was very difficult to suppress the gag reflex and keep things civil, because hearing that she considered my professional services to be a “playdate” was a…

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my first piano

An Obituary for My First Piano

Just the other day, as my best childhood friend, Brandon, was cleaning out a forgotten section of storage for our friend Greg, a grim discovery was made: my childhood piano had been destroyed. My first piano was dead. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I didn’t expect my first piano to die like…

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managing practice time

The Practice Detective – Part 3 – Managing Practice Time

Piano practice had become an intimidating ceremony for Lucy, and as her teacher, I had failed to see this at first. The suggestions I gave her in The Practice Detective –  Part 2 weren’t working, and I was about to find out why: after getting her mother to relax and give her space, Lucy was…

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fun on piano

The Practice Detective – Part 2 – Having Fun on Piano

Whenever Lucy was told to practice, she instantly rebelled against this command. After all, if she was going to practice anyway, no one would have needed to tell her in the first place. Constant demands from her mother, Kim, just got on her nerves and turned everything into a power struggle. Reminders are very useful…

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JudgeObserver

The First Law of Music – Part 4

Beautiful music is an endless well of inspiration, but the well can be easily poisoned, and talent is not always enough to clear the waters. The fight or flight response, or the stress response, is a normal reaction to scary or stressful situations, like being thrown into a dark, cold lake and not being able…

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