Author Archives: Expressive Keys

About Expressive Keys

Teaching piano and synthesizer allows me the opportunity to inspire students to pursue the art of music. My passion is to train musicians in classical, modern and worship music.

Spring Recital 2022

We all had such a lovely time sharing music and celebrating God’s gift! Each student had the opportunity to play a few pieces they have learned. We are so proud of their dedication to music.

Spring Recital 2021 – Zoom

These young musicians had a blast playing their music for each other!

“Starry Night” by Carol Matz

Throwback Thursday: At the 2014 Spring Recital, Josue Levis Jr. performed “Starry Night” composed by Carol Matz.

The Challenge that Motivates

Holly Hughes was the first student in Expressive Keys Studio to reach the Memory Challenge during the 2016-2017 school year. In fact, she pushed herself to memorize above and beyond her goal. By the end of May, she aspired to have 25 pieces memorized and ready to share whenever the opportunity emerged.


Learning the Blues

Mali Hanner plays Got Those Blues from the Adult Alfred series. It’s her first year learning to play blues, and she is enjoying every moment of it.



Developing Expression


Vanna Chun learned Harvest Festival by Martha Mier. Her dynamic contrast and expression has developed immensely through this piece.

Amazing Grace, Six Hands at the Piano

Abigail Fisher, Sophia Fisher and Jamie Fenton play an arrangement of Amazing Grace. Playing six hands at the piano is no easy task, but so worth the effort to make music together!

Five tips on how to motivate students to practice

Over the years, I’ve noticed that the months of February and March seem to be the time of year that students begin to slack in their practicing. With a little planning, tools and communication, it won’t take too much time to encourage your kids to continue mastering their art.


1. Watch it

Set aside an evening together and look up YouTube videos of students their own age playing the piano. Record your children playing a song of their own and share it with friends and family.


2. Be Consistent

Establish a practice schedule together. Rehearsing the same time every day creates consistency and a good routine. As students practice daily, they will be naturally inspired by their own progress. If they can’t seem to stay focused during the chosen time, rearrange the schedule or break it up. Try practicing half the time before leaving for school in the morning and half the time when they arrive home from school in the afternoon.


3. Keep it all together

Provide a system that helps your kids stay organized. If they can’t find their music to practice, they waste time, energy, and may give up quickly. Using a basket or a reusable grocery bag to hold their music and assignments is a simple way to keep it all together.


4. Motivation is key

Provide an incentive for consistent practice. Going on a vacation during Spring Break? Choose a fun place or activity for your kids to do during the vacation. Create short, attainable goals for them to reach in order to do that fun activity. For example, every 5 days they practice, they earn points toward the fun activity. Keep track of it on your smartphone. There must be an app for that! If you know one, please share in the comments below!


5. Discipline

If all else fails, some students simply need to be pushed. Talk about expectations of piano practice (30 minutes each day, 5 days a week, M-F) and explain the consequences for not practicing (no digital devices over the weekend; an extra chore for each day they didn’t practice). They can “earn” their privileges back by practicing extra to make up for lost time.

Have you found successful ways to keep students motivated?

“Morning” by Edvard Grieg


Vanna Chun performs “Morning” by Edvard Grieg, arranged by Faber, in her lesson.When Vanna found out that I wanted to post her video to YouTube, it motivated her practice and memorize this piece within no time!

5 Tips for a Successful Performance

Every year, my piano teacher hosted two piano recitals. Even though I practiced and practiced, I could not overcome the stage fright until my senior year of high school.

So, here are 5 tips to help you execute a successful performance.

1) Practice Performing

There isn’t a better way to become comfortable performing then by doing it. My mother would have each of us kids perform one or two pieces for anyone who walked through our door – even the guy who repaired our appliances. Find opportunities to share your music. Be courageous!

2) Practice Acting

Stage freight starts in the mind. Pretend you are an actor or actress. Imagine that you are someone else on stage. It may sound strange, but it psychologically helped me to overcome my fear of feeling vulnerable.

3) Practice Imagining

Walk through the entire performance (even in the clothes you would wear). Sit in a chair near the piano. Imagine that there are people and other performers surrounding you. Walk to the piano, and adjust the bench to a good distance. Take a deep breath and perform for your “audience”. Remember to bow at the end of your performance!

4) Practice Ghosting

Have you ever tried to play your piano piece on a hard surface while singing it in your mind? One of my teachers called it “ghosting”, like you are moving your fingers without hearing the actual sound. If you have a memory glitch without even playing the piece on the piano, then you most likely will have it when actually play the instrument. Review that passage and practice ghosting again.

5) Practice Breathing

Yes, it may sound like a blonde joke, but it’s true. You need to make sure that you are breathing when you play. Take deep breaths during the challenging passages. Oxygen to the brain can only be a good thing when you are under pressure.


No matter what happens, remember to make colorful music!

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