Piano Teacher World: A Year in Recap: News, Happenings, and Impact

Dear Piano Teacher,

OK, OK, I’m a total copycat! I admit it. This is not an original idea. Last year, Leila Viss wrote a post called¬†40 Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources that she compiled along with her friend Marie Lee (which included Friday Finds B.T.W. ūüôā and I absolutely loved it.

So, I started making a list of items that impacted me this past year and the list just started flowing. As the list evolved, it started to include not just specific events, items, and products that impacted me, or that I “discovered,” but items and happenings that I would consider “big news” in piano teacher world.

In alphabetical order…


In Piano Teacher News

Big changes at The Francis Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy

There’s lots going on at The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy! Not only did they hire a new¬†Full-Time Executive Director in October 2017 (Dr. Jennifer Snow), but in December 2017 they appointed Ryan Greene as the new Director of NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy).


Carol Matz’s inter@ctive Piano Method

Composer Carol Matz wrote and published a new method that has online interactive materials.


Colourful Keys Quick Clips

After attending NCKP this summer and seeing all the wonderful teaching demonstrations, Irish piano teacher Nicola Canton began posting short clips of her own teaching on her blog Colourfulkeys.ie.


Joy Morin’s Piano Teacher Retreat “Retreat at Piano Manor”

Joy came up with a great concept for a 3-day retreat for piano teachers and put it into practice this year. A group of teachers from all over the country came together in a relaxed environment to discuss method books, and their history, and to learn from each other.


New MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) Website

MTNA Launched their new and¬†much-improved¬†website! We all know how bad it was needed and I’m so happy about the changes I’ve seen. One of the biggest things is the ability to have teacher profiles on the website.


Musicality Podcast

This new podcast is for anyone who is interested in becoming more musical. They cover topics like playing by ear, improvising, writing music, singing in tune, performing and jamming, and much more.


Music Learning Theory (MLT)

MLT seems to be gaining more and more interest in PT World this past year.

There’s a brand new Facebook group called “Edwin E Gordon and Music Learning Theory for Piano Teachers.” Which was established with the hopes of it being a place for piano teachers who are interested in learning more about MLT to get their feet wet.

GIA Publications has also now made available a free PDF of Dr. Gordon’s booklet¬†Quick and Easy Introductions. This is the perfect place to start for anyone interested in learning more about Music Learning Theory.


New Piano Safari products

Piano Safari launched several new products this year (at least I’m 95% sure they were all this year). The Animal Adventures book and the new Pattern Pieces books are a great way to utilize the Piano Safari Animal Technique exercises and rote pieces along your favorite method. They also launched their new Theory books.


SusanHong.com Musical Artwork

San Antonio-based piano teacher and artist Susan Hong, after sharing many of her wonderful musical mandalas in Facebook groups, launched her own website.


Tim Topham Creative Music Education

Australian piano teacher Tim Topham has gone all-in this year. No longer teaching at Xavier College, his time is now focused on developing and his Top Music Pro (formerly the Inner Circle) Membership Site for piano teachers, newly-branded Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, and now his new app.



In My Own Little Corner of P.T. World

Hal Leonard Ensembles

I’ve had these ensembles in my files for years but have never utilized them like I should. This year we’ve been sightreading at least one piece in these 4-part ensembles during every group class and they’ve been a fun addition. I’m lucky enough to have a keyboard lab so these ensembles help me put the lab to even more use!


Iwako Hedgehog Japanese erasers, 6-piece

I think I saw this first from Nicola Canton over at Colourfulkeys.ie but I can’t say for sure. All I know is that the kids go absolutely crazy for them. I bought three packs at once – two so I could use them for a whole octave and one to add to my prize box.


Low Key Card Game. This is a really fun game for practicing key signatures. It, along with the Rockin’ Rhythm Ensembles was one of my few new resources purchase this year. The TCW Games are always winners. My students specifically commented how much they liked this game.

Cover tiny file
look inside
Low Key TCW Resources. Method book. Published by TCW Resources (KJ.TW621).


Readings and Writing Music Notation Book 1.

This book is part of the Music Moves for Piano series that is based 100% on the Music Learning Theory (MLT) approach.¬†As I begin to incorporate the concept of enrhythmic rhythms and notation in my studio more and more, I found this book to be a great activity for my late elementary – intermediate students that did not have this approach from the start. Many of my older students have commented that they like doing this workbook that includes pattern listening and recognition during their lab. It’s been a learning curve, but worthwhile.


Rockin’ Rhythms Ensembles. These 4-part rhythm ensembles are a fun way group activity. Practice each rhythm individually as a group then put them together for a fun collaborative ensemble.

Cover tiny file
look inside
Rockin’ Rhythms Composed by Laura Zisette, Charlene Shelzi & Kathleen Lloyd. Published by TCW Resources (KJ.TW617).


Ukulele for Music Teachers e-book

MLT-focused music educator Robin Giebelhausen has written a free e-book called Ukulele for Music Teachers. It was an essential element to the success of my Ukulele class this past year.



My Own Little Corner of iPad World

This was the year of the iPad for me. We’ve had an iPad for a long time but it was an old one so we didn’t utilize it like crazy. I decked my set-up out this year completely and it’s amazing. I’ll admit, I don’t go too crazy on apps. The one app I recommended is because it was the newest app for me that I’ve put into the most use during music lab time this past year.

iPad Pro 12.9″ 128 GB, WiFi.

Since I don’t have a laptop, the larger size has been really nice. I would buy it again.

Apple Smart Keyboard

Slim, easy to use, multiple propping positions, and self-charging from directly off the iPad. Super convenient.


Apple Pencil 

A nicety of course, with its price tag, but I have to say that it will spoil you! Huge difference from using a stylus.

For Score and the AirTurn PEDPro.

I know they’ve been around for awhile, but it wasn’t until this past year that I really started using the combination of app and Bluetooth pedal a lot more. It’s a match made in heaven and a setup that will turn heads. Even in 2017, the concept is still fresh to many. I still get a lot of curious onlookers.


I’ve been using Sproutbeat a lot more extensively as part of my lab time this past year. Mostly for my younger students, the thing I love about it is that they can complete a LOT of worksheets for the same concept. The more they do the more it sinks in. The kids enjoy using it.



In my Own Little World

Baby bliss porcelain ceramic hair dryer

The sturdiest hairdryer ever. This baby is gonna last me for years to come. I love the weight and balance of it in my hands.



This monthly beauty box has been a fun, useful, and convenient way to try new products. I hate shopping for beauty products because you could easily spend $20-$40 on a bottle of something that you end up not liking or that makes you break out. This box at $10/month sends you 5 samples. I have found several products I love that I would never have tried on my own. It was a great Christmas gift for my teenage nieces as well – they loved it!


Essentrics / Classical Stretch Online Video Streaming

This Canadian-based program is featured on PBS. A fellow piano teacher told me about it and I am LOVING not only the exercise videos but their whole philosophy of the body, how we move, and how to care for it.


Fekkai Apple cider shampoo

This stuff is ‘da bomb. Yum. It smells amazing, makes my head tingle just enough that I can practically feel the build-up saying bye-bye.

Pixi Toner

 You can find the Pixi line at Target which is where I first came across it. The toner, used after face wash on a nightly basis helps my skin feel completely refreshed. Even after a good cleaning, it helps cleans my skin even deeper and leaves it feeling brighter.


The Next Right Thing Podcast

One of my best finds of the year. My current favorite podcast even better in that its less than 20 minutes per show.


This is Us

OK, I know it premiered in September of 2016, but we just discovered it this year and it’s the best show I’ve seen in awhile. It’s a beautiful story of a family interweaved between generations in a brilliant way. Touching, clean, funny, and engaging.


What had the biggest impact on you this past year?

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