Appropriate Arrangements

We are flooded today with a wide variety of musical arrangements. Through the years, I have heard Bach's Toccata in D Minor used as a video game accompaniment, Mozart's "Turkish March" in a toy cell phone, Poulton's "Aura Lee" (a.k.a. "Love Me Tender") played in a very quick tempo for a dog commercial, and Chopin and Bach melodies serving as the ba...
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Music for the Military - A Small Glance

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Many service members returning home after World War II were diagnosed with "shell shock" and "combat fatigue," which we now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The military started an experimental music program to help ease the symptoms associated with psychological and moral injuries. Service members listened to recorded music, inte...
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More Than Notes: Teaching Musicality Through Movement

What is musicality? Who has it and can it be taught? According to noted music educator and researcher Edwin Gordon, "Everyone has some level of music aptitude, is musical, and can learn to listen to and perform music with some degree of success."1 However, most people do not reach their full musical pote...
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To Play and to Study: The Thrill of Discovery

Learning is thrilling. As we feel our own potential expand, we seek to develop our capabilities even further. We feel excitement when a concept clicks into understanding. Our curiosity is piqued when a new challenge reveals itself. The satisfaction of learning is amplified when we are thoroughly engaged in di...
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Digital Only: How to Teach Creativity in the Music Lesson

I have often heard musicians say that creativity can't be taught – you either have it or you don't. In other instances, I have heard musicians struggle to define or describe what they think creativity is. Some believe it is practically sacrilegious to even try to define creativity. Yet most agree that creativity is the holy grail of any artist – it...
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What are we learning in piano study?

Revealing beneficial intersectionsIn recent years, education in the United States has seen an increased focus on STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. At Clavier Companion, we always look at the "M" in STEM and think that it should stand for music. Here's a quick reminder of just a few of the many things that stu...
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Music together: Creativity in preparation for the book

Children are excited by sound, they want to make sound, and they want to explore possibilities and express themselves at the keyboard. Children are brilliant— until someone tells them they aren't. When faced with too many rules and layers of abstract concepts at the beginning stages of study they are often just overwhelmed by information they don't...
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The imaginative piano teacher: Musings on being more creative in the piano studio

As we start a new year of teaching, I believe that many of us wonder how can I improve and become a better, more efficient, and more productive teacher this year? I know I do, even as I start my 44th year of teaching. Of course, I prepare by consulting past lesson plans and pedagogy syllabi. As I meet new students and welcome back returning on...
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September/October 2018: Variations

The music of lifeSerious illness visited my husband last winter. Our lives suddenly became a round of doctor appointments, surgery, tests, treatments, and continual bad news. My husband and I have received thoughts, prayers, food, visits, gifts both serious and funny, cards, and people's heartfelt love. We are grateful...
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Purple Days

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Yesterday, Andrew came into his lesson scowling. He stomped her to the piano bench, sat down, and crossed his arms in front of his chest, still scowling. I first met five-year-old Andrew when he was a baby, sitting on his dad's lap during his older brother's piano lessons. During all of his eight months of piano lessons, I have never seen him ...
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Bringing it Home

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For a pianist without high-level management, organizing a tour can feel like an impossible undertaking. There are many reasons why touring is harder than ever before: venues for classical and jazz music have been shuttering their doors all over the country, audiences are far from guaranteed even at the most reputable venues, most major papers no lo...
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Developing triad chord fluency

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Like language students who have memorized vocabulary but are not yet conversant, pianists who have learned to construct chords may not yet be "chord fluent." So how do we help our students move beyond music theory worksheets to being able to interpret chord symbols and identify underlying harmonies in literature more easily? One approach involves a...
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Studios are not just in living rooms anymore

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Sometimes the world brings people into your life who ignite your energy and restore your passion for teaching. Last February, on a sunny morning in Austin, Texas, last February, I met two such individuals, Wendy Kuo and Klondike Steadman, the executive directors and owners of The Orpheus Academy, a music school with 410 students employing more than...
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Closer look: Grade by Grade Piano

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A bonanza for creative teachers and students A teacher places a spanking-new repertoire book in front of a student. "We're going to learn a contemporary piece," the teacher says. The student notices, however, that the piece was composed in 1945. "How," the student asks herself, "can this music be contemporary?"Living human beings write new pieces e...
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Pencil practice 102

As a student pianist at music camp, I once asked an improvisation teacher for tips to help me improve my creative skills. "Learn everything you can about harmony" was his quick answer. Today, I agree that, especially for pianists, chord fluency opens more doors to creativity than any other element of music.Writing chords by rootIn addition to maste...
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Pencil Practice 101

​Recognizing chord symbols is one of the biggest obstacles faced by beginning improvisers learning to play from lead sheets. Just as foreign language students write conjugations to become better speakers, pianists can improve their chord fluency with pencil practice away from the piano.Writing chords by keyFollow these steps together with your stud...
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Piano Pentathlon and Piano Hullabaloo: Celebrating the piano

Piano Pentathlon and Piano Hullabaloo: Celebrating the piano
​Many music organizations host annual festivals for student pianists each year where students play in a master class atmosphere, are critiqued, and are given suggestions for improvement. These learning opportunities can be extremely valuable, especially for those preparing auditions and recitals. Yet, I have often wondered exactly what is "fes...
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The future of piano teaching - gamification in teaching

The future of piano teaching - gamification in teaching
​Jane McGonigal, The Future of Piano Teaching author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and other books, is a video game designer. In a TED talk from 2012,1 Jane tells her inspirational, emotional story of getting a concussion that did not heal properly. This is what happened: I was told to rest my...
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In the Moment recital

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An arranging workshop

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Time certainly flies when you're having fun. I realized this year that my first published arrangement was copyrighted in 1984. Math was never one of my strongest subjects, but I think that means I've been at this for more than thirty years. That adds up to a lot of staccatos, phrase marks, altered chords, and double bars. It has been a privilege to...
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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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