Inside the Studio with Janet Hart

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Exploring the Tactile Foundations of Sight Playing

One of our highest priorities as piano teachers is to provide a solid foundation for music reading. Students who read well learn music faster, stick with piano lessons longer, and continue to play into adulthood. All teachers know this and emphasize reading skills in the first few years of lessons, and yet, many of our students struggle with s...
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Inside the Studio with Clinton Pratt

 This student just started lessons in March. We only had a few lessons before moving to online lessons. In this clip, I'm preparing him for the first piece in the method book that involves dotted half notes and triple meter. The rhythm patterns that we do in the video are in the piece, but he hasn't seen the piece yet. I'm reviewing steady bea...
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Inside the Studio with Rebecca Pennington

This video shows the introduction of a new piece in a group class online. The students work through the preparation steps as a group, practice the piece on their own, and play for the teacher to receive feedback.Music Featured: "On Tiptoe" from Music Tree 1, AlfredTopics: Elementary StudentsOnline Group PianoReading and RhythmStudent Independence E...
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Teaching reading, part II: Framing instruction

Students with disabilities will come to your studio with all sorts of labels – autism, high/low functioning, visual impairment, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, etc. Although they come with labels, the label does not define the person – it informs the pedagogy. The student is a person capable of learning and doing remarkable things. The label helps us form...
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Teaching reading: Part I

This blog post will be part one of a three-part series focused on teaching reading to students with special needs. As with all of our posts, we invite you to implement what you find useful, disregard what you do not, and email us with any questions you have along the way. Please send all questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Side note and...
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Powerful patterns

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It always makes my day and warms my heart when my students "get it," when they experience an "ah-ha," when understanding dawns, when recognition lights up their eyes. It's the reason I still love teaching music after thirty years.  One of those moments occurred in a recent lesson when sisters Georgie and Carly were working on their duet, Falli...
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Beyond the Keyboard

Dr. Edwin Gordon was one of the most distinguished and influential music educators of the twentieth century. His work on the measurement of music performance, audiation, and Music Learning Theory had far-reaching implications for a wide variety of musical settings. In November of 2015, Dr. Gordon was named a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Asso...
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Instant alto clef fluency

Reading alto clef can be a snap for pianists. In fact, if you can read the grand staff, you already have the skills necessary to read the alto clef fluently. The method to accomplish this is a simple one—it involves some imagery and an application of what you already know. Just envision the alto clef as the exact middle of a grand staff that has be...
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The role of rote teaching in the development of reading, technique, and artistry

Rote teaching is the systematic introduction of musical and artistic concepts that are best introduced by modeling rather than from the notated score. Music is an aural art and thus transcends notation. Rote teaching is not (a) training students to copy the teacher without any thought or understanding, or (b) the creation of students who will forev...
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Should students count aloud when sight-reading?

Many piano teachers believe that it is imperative to teach students to count aloud when learning a new piece, and they certainly have support in many of the popular teaching methods. However, I have to ask: if counting aloud while playing is so important for developing good rhythm skills, how do trumpet and clarinet players learn to perform in rhyt...
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How Do You Teach Students to Read Patterns Rather Than Note-By-Note?

The idea of reading patterns in music first became important to me when I began teaching young students how to read music. In my formative years I was raised on a note-by-note approach that began at Middle C. It worked for me... at least I thought it did. Today, even though I teach children to read by interval relation...
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Four teachers and Facebook: Ideas for improving sight-reading

Earlier in the year, I established a private discussion group on Facebook with four teachers from around the country— Monica Allen, Laura Beauchamp-Williamson, Rebecca Pennington, and Scott Price. Our goal was to have some conversations about music reading which would lead to the sharing of ideas and resources. It is important to know that the...
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Music Reading

Experience and research tells us that the more one reads a language the more fluency is gained. This is, of course, true of sight-reading as well. Making this happen with our students in an organized and motivating manner eludes many of us, myself included. This is why I was so intrigued when told of the exciting new sight-reading program implement...
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Boiling it down: Recipes for effective teaching

When I think back on the great teachers I have encountered in my life, I find that they all had one thing in common—the ability to boil things down to their essence. These teachers' abilities to reveal the essence of the subject matter made my understanding possible. Perhaps it was an applied teacher communicating the essentials of tone production,...
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Questions & Answers

Q: I currently have a new beginner who appears to have perfect pitch. While she has her back turned to the piano, I can play any pitch and she can repeat it exactly, without yet knowing key names. In addition, she can play any simple early-elementary piece by ear after one hearing, without any reference to reading. How can I help her overcome ...
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How can colors be used to help students learn to read music?

For centuries, music notation has been a "black and white" subject. To read this music, musicians have decoded black and white print and transferred it into colorful sound. Even when making notations in our printed music we have usually grabbed an ordinary pencil, thus adding a shade of gray to the page. When things get really bad we might actually...
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When using an intervallic approach, how do you develop faster note recognition? - Expanding on the "blueprint"

If were asked to name the most frequent mistake made by teachers, I would cite the belief that a method or set of materials is complete in and of itself. This belief inevitably leads to some frustration with the materials, and teachers may even abandon the materials to try something else. In reality, every method needs supplements provided by the t...
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How do you integrate composition into your teaching of music reading?

Imagine an elementary school classroom in which students are taught how to read a written language both out loud and to their selves. They have vocabulary drills, spelling tests, reading comprehension tests, etc. Yet these same children are never asked to converse or to write down an original thought. Would they be considered literate? If these stu...
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How do you handle reversals in reading?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor When you stop and think about it, what we often ask a young student to do at their first lesson is completely unreasonable. They sit at a huge keyboard, barely able (if at all) to reach the far ends of it, still uncertain of which hand is right and which is left. They are told...
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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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