Tag Archives: music

“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!

Music and the Brain

200 Days of Practice!

Each year, I introduce a new challenge for my students to engage in. At the end of the school year, the students who attained the goal are honored with a trophy! For the 2014 – 2015 school year, my challenge to each student in my studio is to practice 200 days from September – May! This comes out to approximately 5-6 days per week. Each day they practice, they will fill in a star on the chart below (click to download and print). The first student to reach 200 days will receive special recognition! Parents, please hold your children accountable by having them come to you first before they fill in the star.


If you would like to use other charts, I have found a few others online that might appealing. I’m looking forward to a successful year of practice!


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200 Days of Practice: the practice shoppe


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All Star Recital Practice: Ear Training and Improv

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Planes and Jets Theme: Kids Pointz


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Coloring Music Chart: ABCTEACH


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Flowers Practice Sheet: Susan Paradis

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Practice Sticker Charts: Making Music Fun


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Music Practice: Chart Jungle

Piano Practice Guide for Early Beginners


Piano lessons are not successful unless students learn how to practice on their own. Each lesson, I usually write down a list of songs and technical exercises for my students to be practicing. For each song, I found myself writing down similar objectives. Instead of rewriting the list each week, I decided to create a practice guide. Here’s what I have assembled for my students, who are just starting to learn how to read music:


Practice Guide for the Piano


Before you start practicing, make sure you are at a good distance from the piano. Sit up tall and place your feet flat on the floor or on a stool. Number your fingers (remember, thumbs up number 1). Place your hands on your knees to help you form a good hand shape. You are ready to begin!


Practice ONE measure at a time. Play with one hand first. Once you go through the list below, practice with the other hand.


  • Name the notes in the music before you start playing on the piano (A B C D E F G)

  • Find your hand placement on the piano: Name the first note in the music. Which hand plays that note? Which finger plays that key on the piano? Repeat for the other hand.

  • Play and name the notes 3 to 5 times.

  • Play and count the rhythm 3 to 5 times.


Practice the entire song with both hands SLOWLY. After you are done, ask yourself the questions below. If you answered with “No” or “Maybe”, play it again until you can say, “Yes” to each question.


  • Did you play the correct notes?

  • Did you count aloud (or in your mind) throughout the piece?

  • Did you play with a steady beat?

  • Did you play with curved fingers and with a ball-shaped hand?


Practice musicianship hands together.


  • Try to play the song with a warm, round tone.

  • What are the dynamics? Practice them (Forte is played heavy. Piano is played light. Mezzo Forte is in between Forte and Piano).

  • Try to sing the lyrics of the song as you play.

  • Can you play the song without the music?


Download this practice guide here:

Piano Practice Guide for Level 1a


Tools for Listening to Music

Technology has provided various avenues for us to listen to music. Being a musician, I wish I had these tools as a teenager to explore various genres. It probably would have changed my style of playing growing up – Why?


I like to describe music as a language. If you are trying to learn how to speak Spanish or Tagalog, one of the best ways to learn the language is to listen to one speak and try to emulate the words spoken. If you or your children are trying to learn music, it’s so important to listen to the musical language. There are so many genres and styles of music to explore!


Here are a few tools I use:



Once you sign-up for free, you can download an app onto your computer or smart phone. It syncs with your iTunes account, which makes it easy to access the songs you already own. You can also create your own playlists by searching for specific songs. I personally created a playlist called Piano Songs that has a variety of music with piano.



If you want to upgrade your account, you can take your playlists with you. An easy way to listen to your playlists on the go. You can also connect social media with Spotify, which means that you can view your friends’ playlists!



Don’t have time to search for songs? Type in an artist, band or genre you enjoy listening to and let Pandora do the work. I downloaded this app onto my smart phone, and listen to various stations that Pandora created according to my musical taste. It’s a convenient tool when I want to sit back and hear current and new artists.


What technological tools do you use to listen to music? What piano songs do you enjoy listening to?


The Old with the New

It’s fascinating to see the creativity that musicians can bring to the table. I am particularly intrigued by those who mix the “Old” with the “new”. Enjoy this inspiration!



Music in the Sand

The beach is one place of inspiration for me in South Florida. The warm sun, the gentle breeze and the sound of the ocean waves helps me to relax and enjoy life. As I drew in the sand, an idea dawned on me. My students could practice drawing music in the sand! What a fun activity you can make out of it! Gather a pile of shells, draw a staff and create your own music! Take a picture and try playing it on the piano when you get home.


Staff, 5 Lines and 4 Spaces

Staff, 5 Lines and 4 Spaces


Treble Clef Spaces

Treble Clef Spaces


Treble Clef Lines

Treble Clef Lines


Bass Clef Lines

Bass Clef Lines


Bass Clef Spaces

Bass Clef Spaces



Inspirational Duet Team


When I was reading Keyboard Magazine, I came across an article on Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe. I immediately looked them up on YouTube. I was inspired by what I heard!








Learning Songs by Ear – Lean On Me


If you started learning music through reading music rather than by learning by ear, “Lean on Me” is one of the easier songs to learn on the piano by ear. It uses one chord shape (the first inversion of each chord) in the right hand and a single note in the left hand for the bass notes. The easiest part – it’s in the key of C! If you are piano player, try to figure it out!




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