Piano, Voice and Music Theory Instructor

Saturday, November 14, 2015


For those of you planning your Christmas parties, shindigs and family gatherings!! I would love to add some live music to your Holiday Gathering! Check out my new website and contact me for more information!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Preparing for a Music Recital

It’s that time of year – the count down to Christmas!! And part of that count down to Christmas for music teachers is helping our students prepare for our annual Christmas Recital. There’s a lot to consider when planning for a music recital, and even things you’ll need to know once you get on stage.

1. Do choose a song you can master completely at least two weeks before your recital.
This is important for a few reasons:
  • A song has many nuances that take time to fully master. While listening to a professional recording of the song can help you understand some of its tricky bits, your performance should not be a carbon copy of another musician’s adaptation.
  • You may want to “test-drive” those nuances on the stage where the recital will be held to make sure they’ll sound right on a different instrument or with a microphone.
  • You shouldn’t have to rely on your sheet music on stage but if you’re allowed to have it with you, think of it as a helpful reminder, not a necessity.

2. Practicing for Your Music Recital
Use the following tips to help you practice and prepare for your music recital:
  • Do give yourself enough time right before a performance to warm up and practice your song at least once.
  • Do spend extra quality time on the most difficult parts of the song, so you can be sure to nail them!
  • Many musicians practice the opening measures of the piece over and over. It helps them feel confident that they can “launch” the piece and start the piece strongly.

3. At the Recital
Performing for a live audience can definitely be unnerving!
  •       You have worked hard on your recital piece so take this opportunity to show off your hard work and enjoy the performance. All performers, even famous musicians get nervous before they go on stage. But remember that everyone in the audience is on your side and wants to hear you succeed, so have fun and be proud that you are able to make music and give such extraordinary pleasure to others.

  •    Be respectful of your fellow performers and honor their hard work by sitting quietly and focusing your attention on them while they perform. If you or your guests need to leave for any reason, be sure to do so in between performances.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Am I tone deaf? The Truth Behind the Misconception

Am I tone Deaf? The Truth Behind the Misconception
Am I tone deaf? Many people ask themselves this question. But the truth is, tone deafness is a pretty rare phenomenon. Don’t give yourself up as a lost cause simply because you can’t carry a tune. Instead, learn what tone deafness is – and what common issues could be causing your pitch problems.

What Does “Tone Deaf” Mean?
For the tone deaf, hearing the pitch and processing it in the brain is impossible. Tone deaf people cannot distinguish between musical pitches because that is the way their brains work. There is even a medical term for this condition: amusia. According to scientists amusia only affects 4% of people. When you sing do you think " I don't think I'm exactly on the correct pitch!" If your brain is telling you you're not on the correct pitch, it probably isn’t because you are tone deaf; it’s because you haven’t figured out the complex coordination between the brain, vocal cords, and breath that leads to pitch accuracy.

So, I’m Not Tone Deaf. Why Can’t I Match Pitch?
Singing a pitch is a complicated coordination between the brain, the vocal cords, and the breath. 

The Many Faces of Pitch Problems
Pitch-matching ability can be thought of in stages. Some people start off at Stage 1, while others naturally start at Stage 4. Wherever you start, with the right kind of practice, you can progress through the stages until you make it to Stage 4.
Stage 1: I have no idea how to match pitchI am always way, way off. Singers at Stage 1 should start with simple free vocalization, sliding freely up and down their range and think about how they are making the changes that lead to the pitch going up or down. Then, move to pitch matching exercises - the more you practice matching pitch, the faster you will get better at it.
Stage 2: I can match most pitches, but I sometimes sing off-key. 
Singers at Stage 2 still need to practice matching pitch every day. But unlike Stage 1 singers, though, you can start stringing notes together, practicing matching three- or four-pitch sequences.
Stage 3: I sometimes sing a little flat or sharp. 
Stage 3 singers have usually mastered the coordination between the brain and the vocal cords. For these singers, the problem is vocal technique. A singer who is often flat, for instance, may need to master better breath support or raise their facial resonators more. A singer who is often sharp may be singing their notes too hard and using too much energy or air to fuel their sound.
Stage 4: Me, sing out of tune? No way!  
Whether by nature or nurture, Stage 4 singers are deadly accurate. Their brain, vocal cords, and singing technique work in tandem to produce spot-on pitches. The challenge for Stage 4 singers is to stay in tune during difficult moving passages or the vocal extremes of their range.

Am I Tone Deaf? No! If you are not one of the 4% of people who is truly tone deaf, you can learn to sing accurately. Just find a good singing instructor, practice every day, and slowly but surely, you will learn to sing in tune.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Best Learners

One interesting thing that comes to the fore after lots of teaching is that some people possess a personality that is optimally suited for learning. It’s not a matter of intelligence but rather a collection of personality attributes and habits. In fact these aspects of a student seem to be far better indicators of long-term enjoyment and success in piano lessons than native talent or IQ.

So what are these key traits and habits? Here are several that I’ve noticed throughout the years:

1. A genuine desire to learn
The quality of intense curiosity in an excellent student is almost palpable. There is a tremendous focus on how interesting the subject matter is. Any temptations toward approval seeking, proving oneself, and being distracted or defensive from self-doubt are set aside. The good learner is focuses solely on the pleasure of learning.

2. A real interest in the teacher’s advice
Amazingly, many students will pay good money for professional advice, yet completely ignore it in the practice room! Not only is this a waste of time and money, it’s incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. Good practice means taking a teacher’s suggestions seriously and trying to integrate them outside of lessons.

3. Patient and consistent practice
A good learner makes time to practice and think. I would say that if I had to pick one thing that sets apart successful students, it is *consistent* practice over a long period of time. There is a long-term strategy of patience, instead of the desire for quick rewards. The best learners enjoy the slow process of mastery over many years, instead of the thrill of quick but shallow gains.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

4 Practical Practice Tips

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice!” You’ve heard that one, right? Well, it’s a truism that we shouldn’t forget as musicians. If you want to improve on your instrument, practicing is 90% of the process. So here are 10 music practice tips to make the most out of your practice time.

1. Keep a practice log
Keep a log of dates and duration of practice. Set your goals, write them down and then when you are finished practicing, write down whether you accomplished your goal or not. If you didn’t, reflect on why.

2. Remember that practicing is NOT just about playing through your music
Yes, certainly there will be times when you are preparing for a performance and you need to play through your entire piece to check memorization and gain stamina. But when perfecting a piece, playing through your piece from beginning to end may actually hinder your progress. If you still have technical difficulties or memorization mistakes, you are simply ingraining those mistakes into your muscle memory and it will be twice as hard to get rid of those mistakes. Perfect small sections of your piece and then string a few small sections together to make a longer section.

3. Repetition is key
In order to break a habit, you need to do something the correct way 100 times. So every time you miss a note you are going to have to repeat that passage the correct way 100 times! Break large passages up into smaller passages and repeat them correctly until they become part of your muscle memory.

4. Record yourself

By recording your practice sessions – audio and/or video – you can listen back and catch some things you may miss in the moment. Listening to yourself can help you find tone issues, watching yourself can alert you to tension and performance issues that you didn’t know you had and much more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

6 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano

If you’re a parent who has no background in playing a musical instrument it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of things the piano teacher wants you to know to keep your child engaged and enthused about their learning. Here are the basics that you need to know to be able to support your child’s musical education:

1. You must try to not miss lessons. Your child having extra homework that night or wanting a playdate with a best friend simply doesn’t cut it as a reason to consider skipping a lesson. Consistency is the key to learning!

2. Practice has to happen most days of the week.  Approximately 15 to 20 minutes per practice session is typically adequate for beginners. Get your child into the habit of practicing regularly. There is a direct correlation between practice time and progression! Teachers traditionally give written practice notes. Use whatever the teacher gives you as a guide for what will take place during practice sessions that week at home.

3. Think long-term. In other words, don’t plan to ‘try’ piano for two months to see if it’s a good fit – if you want your child to learn to play the piano you need to be internally committing to at least one year of lessons and practice. Then you can reflect on how things are going. This isn’t about being a tiger parent, it’s about being realistic about what’s involved in gaining musical skills.

4. Get a piano. Seems kind of obvious but if you want your child to learn to play the piano, it's imperative that you get a piano at home for your child to practice upon. You can buy either an acoustic piano or digital piano with weighted keys. Sometimes there are great reasons why you end up choosing to buy a digital piano (cost, available space, etc.), and these days there are fantastic digital pianos available.

5. Grab every chance to sit in on your child’s piano lessons. You will be a hundred times more likely to be able to support your child’s practice if you’ve been observing the teacher working with your child throughout the lesson – from how to use the body (shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingertips, proper seating position, etc.) to how to practice each piece to getting to understand the lingo (staccato, arpeggio, inversion, etc.). You have the chance to get your own free tutoring just by sitting in on your child’s lesson!

6. Participate in studio recitals. You will be amazed how much your child is motivated by playing at and attending recitals – they get to learn performance skills and hear music being performed by more advanced students.