piano

“There are many accompanists who are very good pianists, but there are not many pianists who are good accompanists!”

Irwin Gage

Any soloist will tell you that a good accompanist is worth their weight in gold. A good accompanist provides support for the soloist without overshadowing or dominating the performance, and provides a safety net when things don’t go according to plan.

Accompanying also teaches many vital skills to student pianists, including keeping a steady beat, following another musician’s interpretation, and sight-reading and transposition skills, among others. Many students of mine are currently accompanying school and community choirs, Church congregations and beginner string ensembles, as well as instrumental and vocal soloists.

My top tips for becoming a wonderful accompanist are –  [···]

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AN ONGOING CONCERN for many independent music teachers is the change of commitment level of students during the summer months. While some teachers enjoy the usually lightened studio schedule during the summer months, most of us depend on our teaching as our livelihood and have bills that do not go away during this time. I would love to hear your ideas, especially those of you that have been successful at insuring yourselves regular employment year long!

ESTABLISHING A SUMMER REQUIREMENT (a minimum number of lessons, with the option of replacing some private lessons with one of the various summer workshops), has been most helpful for me in keeping things going in my studio.  Though I  cannot really make anyone take classes, the ones that do are assured their slot, or first choice of times in my schedule when the school year comes back around.  My students and parents seem to really enjoy the flexibility with having a couple of options for summer lessons and a variety of supplemental classes.   [···]

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As I ponder my blog entry today, I’m in the process of scheduling new monthly jam sessions for my students!

In the past, as a summer workshop, Keyboard Jam proved to be very successful in stretching the students abilities, as well as giving them experience and enthusiasm for playing with other musicians! Have you read Nate Shaw’s two most recent articles on this very blog site? (If not, I hope that you will! I have added the links at the bottom of this article!)  Nate has some great ideas that I am definitely going to implement into my studio jam sessions, private lessons and recitals!

All of my students will be invited (pianists, singer, other instrumentalists). As the jam sessions become a huge hit, I will use them as an incentive, and extend invitation first to top practicers, best scales for the month, etc. All of the students will have fun creating music together, and learning how musicians work and play together. It works best to have separate sessions if you have a  large variance in ages and level of students. We will use the grand piano, a few keyboards, hand drums, shakers, my electric bass, and any other instruments that show up with the students.  There are so many different directions a class like this can take, but here’s a session plan that I have found to work extremely well!   [···]

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