JAN-FEB 2017 READ-ALONG: Josef Lhevinne’s “Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing”

fb-read-alongHello Blog Readers!

Wow!  It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but things sure have been busy on the live streaming end of things.  You could say that most of my “blogging” now has been in-person and LIVE.  There’s much more emotion and tone you just can’t put into writing.  I’ve truly enjoyed connecting with you in this way.

A new year is great time for goal-setting, new inspiration and a “re-start.”  What better way than with a project to get your wheels spinning in new directions for 2017.  Instead of our usual Play-Along, the gang over at the FB Play-Along group has voted on a Read-Along, the first ever in the blogisphere I think.  If you’re reading this after Jan. 10, 2017, no worries!  Jump in at any time during our schedule since the book is not sequential and you can always catch up later by watching the previous replays.  I’ll post the replays here on the blog about every 2 weeks.

FROM JANUARY 10  thru FEBRUARY 14 (approximately), we’ll all be reading “Basic Principles of Pianoforte Playing” by Josef Lhevinne.  Click HERE for all the info you need to get started.  There’s no official sign-up, but purchase a copy of the book soon if you don’t have one.

Basic Principles in Pianoforte PlayingYou can grab a copy HERE on Amazon if you like.  If your book arrives after we begin, no worries. You can still watch the 1st LIVE broadcast on Chapter 1 on Tuesday, January 10 (or the replay) and catch up on the chapter afterwards.

WATCH THIS video introduction of the Read-Along for all the specifics.


Click HERE to read all the info you need to get started.

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2016 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers will be ONLINE soon!

Adobe Spark(7)

We had a blast at our 2016 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers in Houston this past Friday!   For those of you who missed it, videos of the entire “in person” workshop will be available ONLINE for you to view at your leisure beginning July 15 right HERE.    You won’t need to download any videos or possess any special software.  You’ll simply log into the website and view/replay the sessions whenever you like on your desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device.


2016PCPTWEBbrochurebackOnce you’ve purchased the video course, you will have lifetime access to the videos, pdf handouts, and any content upgrades I add later!  I’m so pleased to be able to bring this “virtual” camp to interested teachers for the very first time.  Many of you have told me how you wish you could have traveled to TX. No need for that!

BIG thanks! to all the teachers who attended the LIVE event.  It was wonderful to see some returning teachers and some new faces as well.  Should you have any questions about the topics we talked about, please don’t hesitate to email me at  I know it was a long day filled with a multitude of recommended teaching pieces, tips for teaching, historical info, etc.

A HUGE thanks to the Fort Bend Music Center and owner, Rick Cochran, for providing us with such a quiet and spacious facility.  It was perfect!

And a BIG shout-out to our business donors who donated such generous door prizes for teachers in attendance:

Alfred Music Publishing
Carl Fischer
Faber Piano Adventures
Jennifer Foxx’ Music Educator Resources
Keys to Imagination
Piano Pronto
Susan Paradis’ Piano Teaching Resources
Theory Time
Willis Music Co.

Mark your calendars for our next “in-person” camp in late June 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.  In the meantime be sure to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration for the ONLINE 2016 Camp.

Pre-register before July 15 (the launch date) and you’ll receive my PDF Guide:

“A Quick Guide to the Most Popular Piano Classics Students Love to Play”

A handy outline of a balanced selection of standard repertoire most favored by students, presented by era, level, and in progressive order of difficulty.

Look forward to seeing you there! 


Saturday Morning Listening: Bartok’s Orchestral Colors

Happy Saturday and Happy New Year!  To get us all back in the spirit of listening to and playing Bartok, here are 3 excerpts for your listening pleasure this weekend.  Bartok rejected the late Romantic orchestral sounds in favor of his own palette of colors.  His orchestration ranges from brilliant combinations of rhythm, texture, and timbre to pearly threads of intertwined delicate melodies.  Enjoy!  And see you soon on the continuation of the Bartok, For Children Vol. 1 Play-Along!

1. Concerto for Orchestra (1943)

Two years before his death, Bartok was commissioned to write this concerto for “orchestra” soloist.  Consisting of 5 movements total, it is quite a showpiece highlighting the virtuosic talents of each orchestra section.  Here is the 4th movement – Interrupted Intermezzo, a rather nostalgic, sentimental work written in rondo form with some rather violent interruptions.  Note Bartok’s typical use of folk-like and pentatonic melodies, shifting meters, and irregular rhythms.


2. Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936)

One of his most complicated and demanding works for sure, written in 4 continuous movements and lasting around 30 minutes.  It’s written for 2 groups of strings and an army of percussion instruments including piano, harp, and celesta.  It’s extremely eerie  and also powerfully rhythmic.  Stanley Kubrick used a portion of this 3rd movement in the movie – The Shining.  Skip to 2:05 in the video if you’re tempted.  Recognize it?

3. The Miraculous Mandarin (1918-19)

Bartok read the scenario for this ballet in a Hungarian literary magazine and immediately set out to set the grisly tale to music.  This is probably his most agressive and spectacular orchestral score, swirling with energy and jagged rhythms and both sensuous and sinister at the same time.  The first performance of the suite was given in 1928 in Budapest under the baton of Ernö Dohnányi. The first staged performance of the entire ballet did not take place in Hungary until December of 1945, two months after the composer’s death.  Read more about the story HERE.



2-Minute History: 1. The Music Staff

Script Staff

Every piano teacher occasionally encounters a curious student who just has to know more about a particular music history topic or term, or some facet of the piano.   Often we’re caught off-guard and don’t have a formulated answer ready for questions like:  “Who invented the staff?” or “Why are there 3 pedals?” This 2-minute History post about the music staff is the first of a series of posts dedicated to helping you sort out the gnarly details in order to provide a knowledgeable, yet brief explanation. Today’s post is provided by James Syler, composer, who teaches at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Today’s 5-line staff has become universal for notating music, but arriving at this point was a long journey.   Read More

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