VITAL PIANO: A Piano Teaching Blog

Welcome to my Vital Piano blog!  Fun ideas for the piano studio :)  I have taught piano for over 10 years, and always strive to listen to & inspire my students.  They are so creative and I love finding new ways to keep up with them!  Hope you enjoy these articles & pics - Cynthia 
with my piano teacher from highschool, Ann Tanabe - reunited in Seattle, WA

with my piano teacher from highschool, Ann Tanabe - reunited in Seattle, WA

Enjoyment and Advancement: A fun climb to the top

Enjoyment and Advancement go hand in hand.  It's a lot easier to improve when you're enjoying the process.  So I try my best to keep the mood positive in my lessons.    

If an entire lesson is weighing on getting it right, improving, and becoming better - sometimes I see kids looking a little weary.  This is a great way to burn out.    

What's the point of playing and listening to music if you can't enjoy it?  Here's some tips for interactive and fun times during lessons:  

*Turn on the stereo - listen…

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Funky Rhythms: Teachable moments #1

You've been there.  Your student arrives, and zestfully plays their song with a rhythm all their own.  It's not what is written, but how wrong is it, really?

Before stopping to correct them, I like to listen to what they are actually playing.  

I find my students have a natural tendency to swing - which I think is great!

Of course you don't want to accept sloppy rhythms and just say it's "natural".  But I do think that meeting the student where they are at is a great way to start this teachable moment.  They…Read more
I'm very happy to teach at Mikes Music, an awesome music store in Ellicott City, Maryland! Check em out here

I'm very happy to teach at Mikes Music, an awesome music store in Ellicott City, Maryland! Check em out here

with my student, Emily, at a coffeehouse performance for students ..

with my student, Emily, at a coffeehouse performance for students ..

at Soundbridge music discovery center, Seattle, WA, signing a card for Maltiti Girls School at our benefit concert

at Soundbridge music discovery center, Seattle, WA, signing a card for Maltiti Girls School at our benefit concert

Listening is huge!  Bring in your best CDs and recordings for the kids -  Have them show you their favorite songs or CDs from home/school/church, too!

Listening is huge! Bring in your best CDs and recordings for the kids - Have them show you their favorite songs or CDs from home/school/church, too!

Fun piano arrangements by Cynthia Marie available on Sheet Music Plus 

*First Noel Christmas duet 
late-intermediate

*Pachelbel's Canon 
early-intermediate 

*Arirang Korean folk song

*Moli Hua Chinese folk song

*Old Joe Clark American folk song

*Eileen's Waltz

Family songbook coming soon .. 

#funpianoarrangements

Fun piano arrangements by Cynthia Marie available on Sheet Music Plus

*First Noel Christmas duet late-intermediate

*Pachelbel's Canon early-intermediate

*Arirang Korean folk song

*Moli Hua Chinese folk song

*Old Joe Clark American folk song

*Eileen's Waltz

Family songbook coming soon ..

funpianoarrangements

Fun with skips and steps!

Fun with skips and steps!

Favorite Piano Books

Check out my Favorite Piano Books here, or visit my Pinterest page below for a colorful & interactive experience! Do re mi fa sol la ti do! :) 

Creative activities list

Creative activities for the piano studio:

  • Trip to the symphony - a one of a kind memory
  • Student music showcase - host at a local coffeehouse, or somewhere fun!
  • Ensemble workshop - get the kids together to jam!
  • Music festivals - the more live music, the better!
  • Recording project - you can add layers of tracks to their songs, and have a blast arranging with different sounds
  • Visit a nursing home - the smiles are so rewarding
  • Free-write while listening - some kids love making up stories to music :) and for others, it gets their creative juices flowing!
  • The "Challenge Wheel" - you can make a wheel of fortune type game, where there are different fun music challenges in each pie! 
  • Research music history - illustrate, write a book report on a composer, song, or musical period
  • Original compositions - give them tools to create, a blank manuscript book, and the courage to try it! 
  • Transcriptions of popular/movie/video-game music - nothing is as engaging as a song you LOVE already
  • Improvisation - jazz, free improv, blues, playing over a couple chords - give them a chance to say something
  • Peer buddies - have students write each other & share their recorded songs via mp3
  • Benefit concert for charity - it's fun to create a concert together supporting a great cause, students can be in charge of tickets/posters, etc.
  • Studio music project book - make a collection of everyone's projects to view 
  • Score a "film" clip - set music to a scene from a favorite film, or slideshow of photos
  • Mini-choir - get the studio singing together for a song at the recital! Piano students always need more collaborations
  • World music map - put a pin in a map to show where everyone's songs are from!
  • Involve students' 2nd instruments - show them how to accompany a melody on their 2nd instrument, or create ensembles at the recital for variety
  • Piano recitals (of course! ;)
  • Moody keys game - improvise in a key and ask your student to describe the sound of that key, then guess what key you're playing in.  Then they improvise for you!
  • Summer practice challenge - kind of like summer reading at the library, you can collect stickers for every song you learn and get a prize at the end of the summer.

Have fun!! :)  A few more ideas below on my Pinterest Board -- 

Incentives and gifts for the piano studio at The Music Stand online - I love making a grab bag of prizes every now and then,  and creating a fun game to spark new ideas & practice !

Incentives and gifts for the piano studio at The Music Stand online - I love making a grab bag of prizes every now and then, and creating a fun game to spark new ideas & practice !

Lullabies from around the world playlist

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20 things every improviser should know <3

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