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! šŸ™‚

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

I've divided them intoĀ seven categoriesĀ 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.Ā  A statement on why I love the book.

3.Ā  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:Ā 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 ourĀ 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):Ā Ā 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 educationā€”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 childā€™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 thatĀ childrenĀ do not audiate intervals; they audiate functional tonal patternsĀ madeĀ of intervals...In short, we don't audiate pitches, or even intervals. We audiateĀ 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).Ā  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 thatĀ 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 isĀ 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 cafĆ© suggested by his GPS. Thatā€™s where he met Ray and thatā€™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 youā€™re ready to turn your back foot. (Page 74)

The point is that if you validate someoneā€™s performance, as Dominic did, and then you use the word ā€˜butā€™ to create a change in the performance, the student never remembers what came before the ā€˜but.ā€™ ā€œIf, however, you use the word ā€˜andā€™ 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 ā€˜butā€™ creates a feeling of ā€˜less than.ā€™ It creates a closed condition for learning as well as an ā€˜undesirableā€™ feeling. The word ā€˜and,ā€™ 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.

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.)

New Semester, New Assignment Sheet!

The beginning of a new semester is the best time to break out a new assignment sheet! It’s an easy way to shake things up and make the new semester feel refreshed.

Can you believe that Assignment Sheet Central has seen a total of 23,586 downloads in the past 3 years?! Yowzah!

The top downloaded sheets are the first five listed on Assignment Sheet Central. Literally, the further down the numbers go, the less the download numbers are.

Those numbers make it blatantly obvious that you simply don’t want to scroll through all 21 so you take the best of the first five. I get it!

You might be missing out, though!

Guess what? The assignment sheets are ordered (roughly) from the oldest I created to the newest. So, #01 is the first one I ever created and #21 is the most recent.

In my opinion, the final ones are the best. Try one out!

Continue reading

December Fun

Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio

Are you looking for ideas on fun “off bench” activities to use in this Christmas season? Look no further! Today I’m going to share some of my favorite games and resources that I return to year after year along with tips for each one.

First, let me briefly share how I store my holiday games. We have to stay organized, right?

 

Storing Games (Both Hard-Copy and Digital)

Inspired by Nicola Canton I’ve started storing my holiday-themed games in these clear plastic document folders.

(P.S. The A4 size is nice because if you laminate a letter size-sheet, the lamination makes it larger.)

It’s not a cheap way to store games as they’re almost $1 a piece, so I’m currently only storing my holiday-themed games in these. The rest of my games are stored in hanging files in a file drawer. (I’ll write a post on that another day!)

The digital files are stored in my cloud file manager.

From there, I name files for what they are. This allows me to see how many games, for example, I have, how many worksheets, etc.

 

Favorite Christmas-Themed Activities

In no particular order…

Holiday Rhythm Cups from Wendy Stevens at Compose Create.

This is a great way to have fun with rhythm in a unique and collaborative way. The set includes three songs in three levels: Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Joy to the World.

Check out a clip of my students having fun with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Continue reading

Giving Tuesday

10 Music-Based Organizations to Consider

In light of the upcoming global cause called #GivingTuesday, I thought I would share with you a list of 10 organizations that we as music teachers could consider supporting as we approach the end of the year.

First of all, I was curious and did a little research on this initiative and wanted to share some fun facts:

  • It is held the Tuesday following the U.S. Thanksgiving.
  • Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.
  • The movement was a response to the rise in commercialization and consumerism during the post-Thanksgiving season (a.k.a. Black Friday and Cyber Monday).
  • The hash-tag (#) makes it empowering via social media.
  • There’s a whole website dedicated to #GivingTuesday!
  • It’s not just about donating money but about encouraging people to find a way to give back – whether that’s monetarily or simply of your time.

 

Presented in alphabetical order, here are ten organizations working for the betterment of our musical world. (In order to give you the most accurate description of each of these organizations, the descriptions have been taken directly from their website.)

Disclaimer: This list is simply based on research. I am not being paid by any of these organizations nor do not have experience donating to all of these organizations. Always do further research so you know where your investment is going!

 

#1 Give A Note Foundation

Give A Note Foundation was created to bring awareness to the importance of music education and to nurture, grow, and strengthen music education opportunitiesā€”for every student, every school, and every community. Because music not only offers students the chance to develop creativity and self-expression, but also builds skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking that are necessary forĀ success.

#MusicEdMatters

Visit: giveanote.org

 

#2 Hungry for Music

At Hungry for Music, our mission is putting quality musical instruments into hungry hands. We serve children who demonstrate a desire to learn music, as well as teachers who have students willing to learn.

InĀ 25 years, weā€™ve delivered more thanĀ 13,000 instrumentsĀ to children inĀ 49 statesĀ andĀ 30 countries.

Visit: HungryforMusic.org

 

#3 MTNA Foundation Fund

The Music Teachers National Association uses the Foundation Fund to expand its mission through a variety of grants and awards to deserving music teachers and their students.

More than $150,000 in grants and awards each year for:

  • Competition Prizes for the winners of the MTNA Student Competitions
  • Collegiate Grants for the professional development of Collegiate members
  • Program Development Grants for music organizations to use as seed money in their quest for larger-scale funding
  • Community Engagement Grants for programs and projects designed to be used by affiliates to engage the local community in musical events
  • Teacher Enrichment Grants for MTNA members to pursue needed professional development opportunities
  • Affiliate Enrichment Grants for local and state MTNA affiliates to develop educational and professional development projects and programs
  • Composer Commissioning ProgramĀ for MTNA state affiliates to commission new music to be featured at the state conferences

Visit: mtnafoundation.org

 

#4 Music Link Foundation

Our Mission:Any child who has musical potential deserves the opportunity to nurture this talent to its full extent. Many children lack the chance to receive music lessons due to financial need. The MusicLink Foundation reaches out to low-income families by linking these students with professional music teachers willing to reduce their fees to make the lessons more affordable for the child.

Note:Ā The MusicLink Foundation does not reimburse teachers for this scholarship donation, but supports them in a variety of ways.

Visit: www.musiclinkfoundation.org

 

#5 Music Unites

Music Unites is the leading non-profit charity organization supporting music education around the world. Music Unites partners with music stars, celebrity ambassadors and music sponsors to promote music projects and events at local schools ā€“ educating kids through music. Music Unites is a music foundation that empowers children through donations from individuals, foundation partners, organization events and music education projects. Along with our music partners, musicunites.org features news, events, video and press of the organization. Special charity partners have supported the Music Unites Foundation while guiding youth towards planning achievable goals for the future. Music Unites feature workshops with ambassadors such as Swizz Beats, John Forte, Sting, Gary Clark Jr., and more.

Visit: www.musicunites.org

 

#6 The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs.

#7 National Association for Music Education

National Association for Music Education (NAfME),Ā among the worldā€™s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century

Visit: nafme.org/

 

#8 Pianos For Education

Pianos for Education supports piano education by loaning quality pianos to institutions…

…In pursuit of that goal, we have over time expanded our programs to seek out deserving institutions and organizations that lack the financial resources to acquire and maintain adequate inventories of quality pianos for their music-education curriculums. We also accept applications from private piano teachers and studios in need of piano loans for their studentsā€™ studies. All of our loan programs include regular service and maintenance throughout the term of the loan.

Visit: pianosforeducation.org

 

#9 Pianos for Peace

This program gives talented but disadvantaged young people the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to actively contribute to the development of their communities…

…We encourage and support students to become ā€œAmbassadors for Peaceā€ to build bridges and heal communities through creative, educational and cultural exchange programs. Target groups include children, students, refugees, and deserving academic institutions.

At Pianos For Peace, we are achieving peace starting with the individual, to the community and the world.

Visit: pianosforpeace.org

 

#10 Pianos for People

Pianos for People inspires successful futures by providing free access to the transformational power of the piano. Ā  For families and individuals with limited resources, we break down financial barriers and leverage the piano as a gateway to empowerment, community, and self-esteem. In an environment of support, inclusiveness, and equality, we do this four ways:

Inspiration: Ā Free Pianos
Education: Ā Free Lessons and Workshops
Community: Ā Free Special Events
Enrichment: Ā Free Summer Music Camps

Visit: pianosforpeople.org

 


I’m sure there are many, many more organizations out there that would benefit from our generosity on #GivingTuesday. If you know of any other organizations that work to support music education, please feel free to share in the comments!

 

5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Music Studio

Are you looking for a better way to organize and store photos and videos?

Would you love an easy way to share those special clips directly with students and their families – especially those that aren’t a part of social media (yes, they exist).

Google Photos might be YOUR perfect solution!

My husband and I are PC users. He’s in the business world so that’s just how it goes in our house. For years I tried but never loved iCloud Photos. The interface just didn’t feel good to me and I was frustrated and unhappy.

For years I was hoping for a way to store photos and videos that would easily allow me to tag photos of multiple students on one photo.

Don’t laugh, but in the old old days, I even tried renaming every photo on my desktop file manager to include the name of each student that was in the photo.

This was a TERRIBLE idea but I was desperate.

I felt like I had the rest of my digital life organized and in order but photos were getting the best of me.

Then I met fellow Louisville-based piano teacher Daniel Light at a session I was giving to the teachers of Louisville MTA and he changed my world forever by introducing me to Google Photos!

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why Google Photos may answer your needs (as they did mine) for a better media storage solution.

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!

Halloween Favorites

Games, Resources, Graphics, and More

Halloween may be one of my least favorite holidays of the year, but since it’s tied up smack-dab in the middle of my favorite season of the year, it’s doesn’t go completely missed in my studio.

Here is a quick round-up of some of the best Halloween-themed activities and resources I’ve come across over the years.

13 “Spooky” Classical Music Videos
(Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

Classical Music to Attract or Scare your Trick-or-Treaterā€™s
(Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

Fall and Halloween-Themed Social Media Graphics
(Leila Viss | 88 Piano Keys)

Halloween Candy = Opportunity For Free Marketing
(Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

Halloween Music Lab
(Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Halloween
(Jenny Boster | The Playful Piano)

Continue reading

Music Labs in the Independent Studio: A Brief History

(and a big announcement!)

Do you remember when you first started hearing about the idea of including music labs as part of private music instruction in the independent studio? Is the idea something you’ve always been aware of or do you recall a certain point in time when you noticed the idea emerging?

Depending on how long you’ve been teaching, I’m sure each of us will have a different answer to this question.

From my own recollection, my piano lessons growing up were fairly traditional. When I first started teaching piano right out of high school (ca. 1998-2001; I can’t remember what year I took my first student! šŸ™ ), I had never heard of music labs.

Since my first degree and career was in choral education, not piano pedagogy, I’m not aware of the exact point in history when music labs became popular to include in the independent music studio. I recall being vaguely aware that it was a “thing” around 2005.

Continue reading

Instagram for Piano Teachers

5 Fun Accounts to Follow

This is a post I’ve been excited to write for a long time. I don’t know why exactly.Ā  I think it’s just because it’s a fun and light post that doesn’t require any of us to revamp our piano-teaching or extend our to-do list. LOL.

If you’re not already on Instagram, you might want to check out this post first on the #1 Reason Why You Should Be On Instagram as in Independent Music Teacher.

Whether you’re just creating your Instagram account for the first time, or if you’ve been on there since the day it launched in 2010, there are five Instagram accounts I’ve really enjoyed recently you might want to consider following if you’re not already.

Before I give you my list, I wanted to let you know exactly what I was looking for in this particular list.

 

The Criterion

While there are a TON of piano teachers, bloggers, etc. on Instagram, this post is focused on accounts that spark a little “fun” in the piano studio world.

They can include a little (but not too much) of:

  • Marketing for their website or product.
  • Videos of their own playing or their students playing.

They should include:

  • Student / studio-related photos (but not too many).
  • A few personal photos – keep yourself real and relatable!
  • A lot of fun, beautiful piano-related eye candy.

In other words, I was looking for accounts that balanced life and studio, that didn’t seem focused on marketing themselves or products, and that included a lot of piano beauty, fun, and even humor.

Here’s are my recommendations in no particular order. (Except the last one which is definitely my favorite!)

Continue reading