Books for Piano Teachers

Including My Top 3 Recommendations

Hey there!

I just wanted to mention something you may or may not know about.

Did you know there was a whole page devoted to books for piano teachers on Piano Pantry?

Check it out!

The page has been published for a couple of years but I'm not sure if I ever actually told you about it! Whoops!

You may have come across it, but if not, now you know! 🙂

It includes more than 30 books that can help you in your career as an independent music teacher.

I've divided them into seven categories to make your browsing easier:

  • Music Education and Teaching Inspiration
  • Music Business / Entrepreneurship for Independent Music Teachers
  • Elementary-Intermediate Piano Pedagogy & Repertoire Guides/References
  • Intermediate-Advanced Piano Technique & Repertoire Guides/References
  • Music Learning Theory (Introductions)
  • Music Learning Theory (In-Depth)
  • Faith and the Arts

 

Top Recommendations

In this post, besides letting you know about the Books for Piano Teachers page, I thought I would share more details on the three books I love the most.

Basically, if you were to only read three books on music teaching in your lifetime, I would recommend these three.

Read them. You won't regret it!

If you would like to read more details on each of these top books, read on!


If you just want to jump right to the page with 30 books, click here.


For the three books I'm highlighting in this post, I've included three things.

1. The book descriptions directly from Amazon. (Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will earn a small percentage if you purchase through the link but it won't cost you any more.)

2.  A statement on why I love the book.

3.  A listing of 6-7 of my favorite quotes/excerpts that I feel best define the content of the book.

 

#1 Intelligent Music Teaching

Intelligent Music Teaching: Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction by Robert Duke

Description: In this collection of insightful essays, the author describes fundamental principles of human learning in the context of teaching music. Written in an engaging, conversational style, the individual essays outline the elements of intelligent, creative teaching. Duke effectively explains how teachers can meet the needs of individual students from a wide range of abilities by understanding more deeply how people learn. Teachers and interested parents alike will benefit from this informative and highly readable book.

Why I love it: The first sentence to the preface of this book says it all. "This collection of essays is not about how to each. It's about how to think about teaching and learning."

Favorite Quotes:

Teaching is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning. People can learn without being deliberately taught and a teacher can inform, instruct, explain, and demonstrate in the presence of students without the students' learning what the teacher intends to teach. (Page 10)

Learning to play or sing any scale, any exercise or any piece is never the real goal of music instruction...The real goal... is for students to become superb musicians, doing all of the things that superb musicians do, irrespective of what is being played or sung at the moment... The far-reaching goal remains the same from the first day of instruction to the time when the student reaches the highest levels of artistic musicianship. In this sense, the goals of the lesson plan never change, regardless of the skills or experience level of the students you're teaching. Only the contexts in which the goals are taught (i.e. the activities, the music) change over time. (Page 29)

Students need to learn to study effectively, to practice effectively, to think effectively. So, when and where will they learn that? In class, with us. Not by our telling them what to do when they're alone in a practice room or in a carrel in the library, but by our leading them through the very activities that we expect them to do on their own in our absence. (Page 61)

...the decisions of what to teach when are central to artistic teaching. (Page 103)

In order to become independent thinkers and doers, learners must eventually use information and skills in situations in which they have had little or no prior experience. (Page 141)

All of this suggests a redefinition of what it means to learn something. Much of what we learn as part of formal education is presented to us in very limited contexts, and we have few opportunities to practice applying what we know and can do in contexts beyond those in which the knowledge and skills are initially taught. But if the goal of educaton is that students learn to use knowledge and skills effectively in the future, even in unfamiliar circumstances, then transfer must be definited as the goal of instruction. The goal is no longer the acqusition of knowledge and skills but the application of knowledge and skills in situations that have not been taught explicitly. For the developing musician, the goal is no longer to play a given piece beautifully, but to play beautifully (period). (Page 157)

 

#2 The Ways Children Learn Music

The Ways Children Learn Music: An Introduction and Practical Guide to Music Learning Theory by Eric Bluestine

Description (from GIA):  The perfect introduction to Edwin E. Gordon's music learning theory!

With clear and compelling language, Eric Bluestine sheds light on the most vexing issues in music education—all the while drawing from the contributions of perhaps the most influential thinker in the field today, Edwin E. Gordon. In the process, Bluestine unlocks the mystery that frees a child’s mind to think on its own musical terms.

Why I love this book: Please don't let the fact that it's an "introduction to Music Learning Theory" deter you in any way! Even if you weren't necessarily looking to learn more about MLT, music teachers of every instrument and philosophy will get great value from and depth of understanding on how to teach music from this book.

In all my years of music education, this is the first book I read that really addressed how to teach "music." That is, how to understand the sound that music is and not just the symbols (a.k.a. music "notation") that we often define as teaching music.

Favorite Quotes:

I hold the elegantly simple belief that learning to understand music is its own reward. (Page xiv)

One of the basic tenets of Music Learning Theory is that children do not audiate intervals; they audiate functional tonal patterns made of intervals...In short, we don't audiate pitches, or even intervals. We audiate structured pitches, pitches that we organize into functional patterns that relate to a tonal center. (Page 42)

Music education could be separated into four topics. They are 1) the musical and pedagogical principles that give rise to Music Learning Theory "irrefutable truths about music and music education"; 2) Music Learning Theory itself; 3) learning methods; and 4) classroom teaching (techniques, musical examples, and materials).  Now, think about these in a pyramid shape with #1 as the larger foundation and #4 as the top of the pyramid. (Page 60)

The nature of Music Learning Theory is that one cannot use it directly. To use it, a music teacher must design a method based on it, and then use techniques, materials, and musical examples to get the method off the ground. (Page 75)

A child is not a miniature adult! (Page 88)

If we are to help our students to become independent musicians and musical thinkders - our most important task - then we must encourage them to generalize what they hear. (Page 149)

 

#3 Coffee with Ray

Coffee with Ray: A Simple Story with a Life Changing Message for Teachers and Parents by Nick Ambrosino

Description: Through the eyes of a simple piano teacher, learn the strategies to remove any self-made learning obstacles so that you can achieve all you put your mind too.

After ten years of teaching piano, Matt had become completely disillusioned with his career choice. Teaching was increasingly more frustrating, students were more difficult to motivate and coping with the stress had become much more challenging. He was on the verge of quitting until he decided to have a cup of coffee at a café suggested by his GPS. That’s where he met Ray and that’s when everything started to change.

An engaging, funny and thought-provoking parable, written as creative non-fiction, Coffee With Ray will introduce readers to revolutionary ways of communicating that will help make students become more accountable and teachers more skilled at facilitating learning.

Why I love the book: I especially love that this book is an easy read. It's simply a direct peek into the life of one teacher and is a beautiful example of how we can learn to be better at our profession by learning from others not in our profession. This would be a great summer read. It feels casual but is still directed toward being a better teacher.

Favorite Quotes:

Teachers tend to think about teaching a subject. When you redefine yourself as a facilitator, you become responsible for facilitating your student through the learning of how to teach himself. (Page 61)

Instead of telling my students what they should do, I offered suggestions and asked them to take responsibility for choosing goals that felt best for them. (Page 102)

I asked her what she had accomplished this week that she felt proud of (I found that to be a better and more effective way of starting the lesson than asking them if they had practiced.) (Page 102)

[The last four excerpts are focused on using "but" vs. "and".]

I like the way you made contact with that pitch, Mike, and now you’re ready to turn your back foot. (Page 74)

The point is that if you validate someone’s performance, as Dominic did, and then you use the word ‘but’ to create a change in the performance, the student never remembers what came before the ‘but.’ “If, however, you use the word ‘and’ as the invitation for change after the validation, the student feels he has earned the right to go onto the next part of his training and he will both remember the validation AND create the change. (Page 75)

You feel as though there is always something to fix. While that may be true, the word ‘but’ creates a feeling of ‘less than.’ It creates a closed condition for learning as well as an ‘undesirable’ feeling. The word ‘and,’ however, creates a feeling of greatness, of progress. It creates an opening for learning and that is a much more desirable feeling. (Page 76)

Everything you have ever accomplished was at one time outside of your comfort zone. Yet, by labeling it as hard you put a question mark on your ability to learn or accomplish it. By labeling it as new you never question your ability but, instead, actually acknowledge that you are capable. (Page 78)

 


Those are my three favorite books! Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments!

 

 

 

 

My Reading Lists

If you would like to check out some of my posts on books I've read in previous years, check out these posts.

Recommended Reads: My 2016 Reading List
Recommended Reads: My 2017 Reading List

As you can see, I haven't kept up very well with publishing my annual reading list. However, I do include books I'm currently reading in my monthly "secret letter" which goes out at the end of every month.

If you would like to be on my mailing list so you can receive that monthly communication, you can sign up here.

Friday Finds #161

2020 Vision

OK, I’ll admit I didn’t come up with this week’s title completely on my own. I was inspired by Seth Godin’s post “Seeing Clearly in 2020.” LOL

It was the perfect title though for the first Friday Finds of 2020.

What will you see from this weekly post in the upcoming year? 

What will stay the same… This will continue to be a Piano Pantry staple in the same format each week with around 10 good things put together in one list just for you.

What will change… In the past month, I’ve been trying to freshen things up with two small tweaks. First, notice each week now has a title. The items may or may not necessarily all fit into that theme, but it will help distinguish each week a little more.

Also, my creative flair will change up the Friday Finds image according to themes, months, holidays, seasons, etc.

That all. 🙂

Just for fun, did you know that this isn’t the first time Friday Finds has gone through small changes?

Phase one – Every week was titled by the date. The most popular of those, Friday Finds 05.13.2016 was actually the last one! That only lasted two months (thankfully) until I realized how boring it was to just use the date.

Phase two – Every week was titled from two or three items on the list to try and catch your interest. The two most popular from this phase were:

Friday Finds: Bubble Wrap Voicing and Triscuits

Friday Finds: Potato Variations and a Flying Piano…Up, Up, and Away!

That lasted almost two years to the exact week!

I found it started to stress me out a little not only having to come up with the list and meta description (blogger stuff), but also pick the items that would create a catchy list in the title. So, phase three gave me a little mental break.

Phase three – When I announced the countdown to the big #100, I started titling them with the number. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100! (I follow Joy the Baker who titles her weekend list this way. I figured if it worked for her, it could work for me!)

That’s lasted just over a year and a half.

It was time for a little shakeup so I started testing it out using a simple title beginning with Friday Finds #158: The Spirit of Christmas, and liked it, so here we are. What do you think?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Enjoy your first Friday Finds of 2020, my friends!

~Amy

 

1

11 Pop Culture Predictions for 2020 (Jeva Lange | The Week)

The first one had me a little confused at first (dead movie stars will be the new (alive) movie stars) but otherwise, it’s quite an interesting list!

 

2

When I first told you about my New Year’s Spotify playlist, I didn’t have the list set to “public.” If you had a hard time accessing it, here’s the link again! Sorry!

 

3

Do you have to deal with this on a regular basis like Rebecca?

Cold church blues: practicing organ in the winter. (Rebekah Maxner)

 

4

Keep your mind sharp and take up a pastime for the winter months.

Why Jigsaw Puzzles Are Incredibly Good for You (Piece Out)

I’ve always liked the idea of doing jigsaw puzzles more regularly but it’s one of those things that always seems to remain a “desire” more than an action…

 

5

The BEST roller mat ever.

Crystal Clear Heavy Duty Hard Chair Mat, Can Be Used on Carpet or Hard Floor

 

 

6

A beautiful poem on the conversation between us and our pianos. “What Music Gives Us.” (Nicole Douglass | Tonara)

 

7

There are certain foods that I’m just weird with. Meatloaf, spaghetti, and chicken soup are the first that quickly come to mind. I’m not a big fan of any of them and it has to be pretty darn good for me to partake.

This chicken soup, however, I can handle (and it’s not chicken noodle soup). It uses Israeli Couscous!) The addition of ginger, garlic, turmeric, and fresh herbs make it rich in flavor and high in nutrient goodness. (Monique Volz | Ambitious Kitchen)

If you can’t find Israeli Couscous in your local grocery like me, get it on Amazon.

 

 

8

Casseroles in general area also a weird thing for me, but I love this King Ranch Casserole (Nealy Dozier | The Kitchn).

Traditionally made with all the “cream of” soups, they found a way to do it without those. Yea!

 

9

How Rich Is Ina Garten? Really, Really, Rich. (Naomi Tomky | The Kitchn)

I discovered a few more fun facts I didn’t know about one of my favorite chefs!

 

10

Giving up your 1st class seat on a plane? THAT’S a good deed to tell about. (The Week)

 

 


Please note that there may be links to Amazon in this post. Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

An Assignment Sheet for Piano Safari

There are a whole lot of assignment sheets on Assignment Sheet Central – 21 to be exact.

I thought it might be nice to highlight one, in particular, that was designed around the Piano Safari method.

 

Download Now!

As you can see in the image, it uses clip art images of each of the safari technique exercises so you can simply circle which exercise the student is doing that week.

Weekly sightreading cards are also a big part of the Piano Safari method so there is a section specifically for that as well.

One of the things I learned from the mini-essays from Piano Safari is the importance of having students continue to play and review pieces they’ve already mastered.

Not all pieces are “reviewed for fun,” just the ones the student loves and wants to keep playing. That’s their choice! (Check out Piano Safari’s Mini Essay 4: Assigning Pieces for more on this.)

Friday Finds #151

Last week we celebrated 150 of these weekly posts!

The first Friday Finds EVER was one of my first posts here on Piano Pantry back in March 2016. Oh, how time flies!

Twenty-five of my absolute favorite items and posts from the past 50 weeks made it onto my offerings last week. One of those items, a $13 pack of stickers (that I’ve shared more than once), was offered as part of a giveaway to celebrate.

I’m pleased to announce that using Google’s random number generator, out of 21 comments/entries, the winner is…

The first person to comment on this post! Congratulations, Gina F! I’ll be emailing you to get your details.

Now onto the first post in our next 50!

 

1

Halloween-Themed Jars from Mason Jar Lifestyle: lids, straw toppers, straw, straw holders. (Marisa McClellan | Food in Jars)

 

 

 

 

 

2

Halloween Favorites: Games, Resources, Graphics and More (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

 

3

A Piano Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Week (Andera Dow | Teach Piano Today)

 

4

We had our Fall group class last week and even though Halloween was two weeks away, I made it a “Halloween” group class.

As students entered, I was playing some of the pieces from Jason Sifford’s “The Creeps” book. Students would then tell me if it was in duple or triple/major or minor.

I’ve had this book for a couple of years but because I don’t do a lot with Halloween, I hadn’t pulled it out yet. Now I’m especially glad to have it as part of my music library as the pieces are pretty awesome!

It’s not currently available on Amazon, but you can get it from Sheet Music Plus following this link:


look inside
The Creeps
Composed by Jason Sifford. Sheet Music. Book. The FJH Music Company Inc #FJH2260. Published by The FJH Music Company Inc (FJ.FJH2260).

 

 

5

Junior Virtuosos: What is a Natural Hand Position? (Benjamin Steinhardt)

Two of my favorite tips from this post:

Addressing students trying to stretch and place one finger on each key:

I find it useful to have students practice bringing the hand to the keyboard with their eyes closed to avoid this problem. Most are shocked how few keys the hand covers.

Addressing students dropping their thumbs below the keys:

In addition to reminding students of their natural alignment, I enjoy the image of the thumb tip being a “ghost with a flashlight (or laser beam).”  The light can go up or down, side to side, or shine at an angle but it should always shine on the fallboard when not playing.

Junior Virtuosos: Dropping into a Key (Benjamin Steinhardt)

Favorite tips from this post:

Addressing the weight of the forearm:

Before involving the fingers I find it useful to have the student make a gentle fist (like holding a bird’s egg) and play short rote pieces on black key clusters to feel how the weight of the forearm is responsible for producing sound.

Addressing the hand and forearm working as one unit:

To get the sensation of the hand and forearm working as a unit I like to have students give me “high-fives” and playing “pat-a-cake.”

 

6

How I’ve missed Benjamin Steinhard’s blog all this time, I don’t know, but I finally added his blog to my Feedly. Check out why I prefer to use an RSS like reader like Feedly for following my favorite website rather than email in “Managing Internet Content the Easy Way” (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry).

 

7

In ‘The Water Dancer’, Ta-Nehisi Coates Creates Magical Alternate History (Annalisa Quinn | NPR Book Reviews)

 

8

This Video of How Cookie Cutters Are Made Will Blow Your Mind (The Kitchn).

 

9

The Rise of the “Getting Real” Post on Instagram (Carrie Batton | The New Yorker)

 

10

7 Things that Shouldn’t Impress Us Anymore (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist).

*LOVE, LOVE*

 

Happy Halloween!

~Amy


Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

Friday Finds #150

Top 25 and a Giveaway!

Wow, I can’t believe we’ve hit another milestone of Friday Finds once again! It seems like just yesterday I was putting together the celebration post for #100, but that was more than a year ago!

After #100, I took the Summer of 2018 off of Friday Finds and there have been a few random weeks missed here and there which is why we are more than 50 weeks past #100.

In #100, I shared a HUGE list of the top 100 items from the first two and a half years of Friday Finds posts. That was A LOT to recap, so moving forward, celebrating in 50-week increments seemed a little more manageable!

To make it even more of the best of the best, I’ve trimmed down this week’s celebration list to the top 25 finds from the past 50 weeks. All of these items are ones that, when looking back, still stuck out to me as extra special, interesting, or things I still absolutely love.

You’re getting them in alphabetical order. At the end, you’ll find a giveaway!

Continue reading

147 Tunes to Harmonize Updated

Just a quick note to let you guys know that I recently did a small update to the free download 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw how many hundreds of you have downloaded this freebie!

Here are a few quick ideas on how you could use it:

  1. Pull it out when students forget their materials or haven’t practiced enough on their pieces.
  2. Use it for a month-long focus on harmonization.
  3. Practice harmonizing these tunes on your own to develop your own ear!
  4. At Christmas time, have students choose one piece off the list that they’re not learning as part of their Christmas repertoire and have them play that Christmas tune with chords while they sing!

 

P.S. I would definitely recommend printing it out and keeping it next to the piano at all times!

Happy harmonizing!

Shop is Open – Check Out the New Music Lab Series!

Drumroll, please…

After two years and five months of this blog, Piano Pantry now has a SHOP! (I’ve been waiting so long to say that!!)

You can find it in the top menu bar.

While this is quite an exciting announcement, there’s an even better one…

What’s the first product, you ask?

It’s a Music Lab Series!

 

 

For a brief history of music labs and how I came to where I am today, read “Music Labs in the Independent Studio: A Brief History”.

As I mention in that post, when I first started including a music lab eight years ago, there was really only one “curriculum” product out there. It just wasn’t working for me, so I began creating my own music lab assignment sheets.

Only one other music lab curriculum/program has emerged since that time (that I know of), but I’ve continued to stick with my lab own series since it was working well for me.  Over the past seven years, it has morphed and changed quite a bit as I’m sure it will continue to do.

Continue reading

Winner of Piano Lessons by Noah Adams

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Suzanne H. She will get a copy of Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures by Noah Adams.

I will email you, Suzanne to obtain your address. Thanks to all who entered!

Giveaway!

Piano Lessons: Music, Love & True Adventures

Today I have a giveaway for you!

A few years ago I read the book “Piano Lessons: Music, Love, & True Adventures” by Noah Adams. In my quest to always minimize “things” in my possession, I was looking over a few books I owned and asking myself whether they were ones I would want to read again and take with me into my future.

This book, while I recall enjoying it, is not one that I necessarily would need to read more than once.

It’s a memoir by Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. He writes of his journey with learning to play the piano over the course of a year.

I’m not a big reader of memoirs and biographies, but if you are, I’m sure you will find this book delightful!

Please keep in mind, what I’m giving away is my used copy. It’s paperback with slight wear on the outside and a few highlights throughout.

Rather than just donate it to a bookstore, I thought one of my readers might enjoy it. (It will be mailed within two business days of the giveaway ending via media mail at no cost to you.)

In order to enter this giveaway, please comment on this post and answer the simple question: Do you enjoy memoirs? (Even if you don’t, you can still win! 🙂 )

You can gain an extra entry by visiting the Piano Pantry page on Facebook.

Only those with a U.S. mailing address can win.

The drawing opens at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 23 and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 30. The winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Are you a reader? Check out more recommended resources on Piano Pantry!

Books for Piano Teachers

Books for Piano Teachers interested in Music Learning Theory (MLT)

 

MTNA 2019 and Other News

The time is nearing quickly for MTNA 2019 in Spokane! The schedule is out and I’m looking forward to another great conference.

Joy Morin and I will be co-presenting a session on Wednesday, March 20 @ 8:00 am “Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT)”.

Following that session, at 9:15 am, we will both be participating in a Panel Discussion called “Creativity Throughout: A Panel Discussion on the Business Side of Teaching.” 

Both sessions are unfortunately late in the conference, but I hope you can arrange to attend!

If you’re attending, I would love to meet up. Drop me an email and maybe we can arrange to have a coffee or meal sometime during the conference!


Early registration is also now open for NCKP – a semi-annual conference held in Lombard, Illinois (Chicago).

I’m excited to be making my first appearance as a presenter at NCKP giving a lightning session “Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher.”


Are you from Raleigh, Kansas  City, or Northeastern Ohio?

If so, you can catch presentations of my session “Taming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher” in one of these locations:

  • February 20 – Raleigh Piano Teachers Association (via Zoom)
  • April 5th – Kansas City Music Teachers Association
  • May 3rd – Western Reserve Music Teachers Association

 

Looking at your local group’s 2019-2020 scheduling? Check out my list of available sessions here. I would love to come and speak to your group!