Teacher Notes

Musings and notes from a professional music teacher

The Art of Touch

“All technique originates in the art of touch and returns to it.” -Franz Liszt Your instrument is an extension of your touch, of your body moving through space. Your body responds to the impulses of your heart and your mind, and so your touch will always be unique. It’s a reflection of who you...

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The First Law of Music – Part 4

Beautiful music is an endless well of inspiration, but the well can be easily poisoned, and talent is not always enough to clear the waters. The fight or flight response, or the stress response, is a normal reaction to scary or stressful situations, like being thrown into a dark, cold lake and...

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The First Law of Music – Part 3

Valerie was lucky. Unlike Jimmy in Part 2 of this series, Valerie had never been faced with this kind of crisis in music. For her, coming to lessons was a release from the stress of the world. It was her idea to play and no one else’s. She didn’t have to be told to “practice.” She understood...

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The First Law Of Music – Part 2

Love may be the “first law of music,” described in Part 1 of this series, but this is not always clear to the students or their parents. Sometimes it's painfully obvious to everyone but the people who need it the most. The phone rang one day a couple of hours before my lesson with Jimmy was...

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The First Law of Music – Part 1

“Aloysius.- I am happy to recognize your natural aptitude. There is only one matter that still troubles me. If this is removed I shall take you into the circle of my pupils… Perhaps the hope of future riches and possessions induces you to chose this life? If this is the case, believe me you...

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The Practice Detective Part 3: Managing Practice Time

Piano practice had become an intimidating ceremony for Lucy, and as her teacher, I had failed to see this at first. The suggestions I gave her in The Practice Detective – Part 2 weren’t working, and I was about to find out why: after getting her mother to relax and give her space, Lucy was...

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The Practice Detective Part 2: Having Fun on Piano

Whenever Lucy was told to practice, she instantly rebelled against this command. After all, if she was going to practice anyway, no one would have needed to tell her in the first place. Constant demands from her mother, Kim, just got on her nerves and turned everything into a power struggle....

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The Practice Detective Part 1: Why Lucy Hated to Practice Piano

Lucy’s mom looked broken. “She won’t practice piano! No matter what I do, she refuses to practice. But she still likes taking lessons. I told her she has to practice or I’ll pull her from lessons and she STILL isn’t practicing. We might only be able to do this till the end of the month unless...

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An Obituary for My First Piano

Just the other day, as my best childhood friend, Brandon, was cleaning out a forgotten section of storage for our friend Greg, a grim discovery was made: my childhood piano had been destroyed. My first piano was dead. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I didn’t expect my first piano to...

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Music Lessons are not a Playdate: Seven Reasons to Study Music

I recently had a very awkward phone call with a parent who had some serious concerns about “paying all this money for my kid to have a playdate”. It was very difficult to suppress the gag reflex and keep things civil, because hearing that she considered my professional services to be a...

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