Waay: A hip music app for teens and songwriters

What app is a good fit for those who grow out of Piano Maestro, Flashnote Derby, Rhythm Swing…? If you have groomed pianists beyond the first couple of years of piano or any other instrument (hooray and congrats!), you are probably asking that question. I’ve got an answer.

Take a look at Ten Kettles’ app called Waay.

In fact, you can literally take a look by watching the video interview I held with Alex Andrews, the developer of Waay.  In the video you’ll learn that Alex is a bio engineer-turned-full-time-musician and app developer. He explains how he saw a need for an app that explains the fundamentals of melody and chords in a user-friendly, relatable format for those interested in songwriting. I’ve found that the app crosses over well to anyone –songwriter, pianist, guitarist….anyone wanting to know more about scales and chords and how they combine to create songs. I particularly like how the ultimate focus of Waay is to generate creativity!

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Register NOW for the 88 Creative Keys 2017 Workshop

Take a moment to check out the video below –you’ll learn what we’re cooking up this summer at 88 Creative Keys and get a chuckle, too.

Here we go!

The 88 Creative Keys 2017 Workshop Registration is open. If you’ve been thinking about attending, this is the year to commit. 

The first ten registrants get an extra discount–they are going fast (I mean SUPER fast) so press that blue button below.


Need more info before you commit? Here are some answers to the questions you may have. Read More

Three MUST-HAVE Apps for Your Studio


Flashcards are a thing of the past thanks to Flashnote Derby. Rhythm Swing keeps students occupied for a full 30 minutes during Off Bench Time teaching rhythmic concepts with engaging tutorials and drills. Dragon Scales challenges students to spell scales before the dragon conquers the knight. They all offer SO much more than edutainment!


Off Bench Time is the perfect time to reinforce what you teach on the bench. You don’t need a lot of space to add this component to your lessons. You don’t even need a keyboard, you can use your acoustic piano! If you do want a MIDI keyboard so students can play games with headphones but, don’t’ have the space, this gal is using a small the XKey Portable Keyboard. Learn more about it by clicking on the picture.

I could not teach without these three apps. I thought long and hard before I wrote that sentence but, I know this statement is true so I want YOU to learn all about them. For these reasons, I made a point of contacting Luke Bartolomeo, the developer of the three apps.

In the “Here to Help” video below, you’ll hear how fellow piano teacher Luke, developed these apps because he saw the need for appealing apps that reinforce music concepts and has always liked video games. He steps through the process of how each app works. It’s definitely worth your time if you are not sure how apps can benefit your teaching and keep students happy and learning at the same time. I’m particularly excited about the new features just added to Flashnote Derby.

Here are the show notes which I quickly jotted down during the interview…

Show Notes

Learn about the new features of a favorite pitch recognition app called Flashnote Derby. See how the app Rhythm Swing teaches rhythm reading and learn how Dragon Scales builds scale playing skills and connects with students of all ages.

Rhythm Swing

For iOS only.
App that teaches basic note values, rests and rhythm reading.
Released a year ago.
The app is divided into Basic Notes, Rest, and Eighth notes.
Additional levels are planned for the future.

Three modes
Learn: Interactive videos giving instruction on note values and how to play the app.
Practice: Provides sample exercises which are perfect for using in a lesson.
Play: Exercises are given and students try to keep the monkey from the alligator by playing correct rhythms–perfect during Off Bench Time.
All exercises add melody to the rhythm and a backing track as the students play so it’s engaging and musically pleasing.

Tip: Ear icon on the right hand upper corner will play the rhythm if the student wants to hear it.

Tips on Settings:
You can turn off the pointer and it will reappear if student is off the beat.
Measure highlighting is an option if you the student needs help with tracking.
Required Accuracy can be changed so it’s not too difficult for first time players.

The Boss Stage: Like many other video games, this stage “makes it real” with much longer exercises.

Both Rhythm Swing and Flashnote Derby are iPhone friendly–great for students when they are on the road.

FYIRhythm Make it Count Facebook-2

Rhythm Swing is a major part of my Rhythm Make it Count resource. If you are interested in learning more about how to integrate apps, reinforce concepts and add more quality time to lessons, take a closer look at Rhythm Make it Count. It’s on sale for one week only so grab it now right here.

Flashnote Derby

Multi-platform friendly.

Happy 5th anniversary! Version three just came out at the beginning of 2017.

Treble, Bass, Alto and Tenor Clef drills are available.

Mistakes are reviewed after the race is completed letting students know what notes they missed.

Tips for Settings Gear
You can determine how many questions or tap “All selected” so that all notes that you select for the exercise are answered.
The time can be changed for how long students have to answer: Trot, Gallop…
Answer methods vary: onscreen piano, letter button, piano letters, listen mode.

NEW! The listen mode will hear the student play the pitches on an acoustic piano.
Sensitivity setting is important—make sure to adjust if needed.

NEW! There’s a MIDI option—this is perfect for those who want students to complete drills in the music studio with head phones. That would be me!

You can change the arrangement of alphabet letters to begin with C rather than A.

There’s an option for Solfege.

Two themes are available right now but, stay tuned for more.

Instructional videos give ideas on how to teach pitch reading. I GREATLY appreciate these!

Grand staff flash cards are available on the iPad so students get used to recognizing a note on the grand staff and not just on a single staff.

In the presets, you can create your own drills and send them to students.

NEW: you can set up Multiple User accounts and the app will track progress for each student.

Internet is required to download the exercises emailed from the teacher. Once they are downloaded, internet is not required.

Dragon Scales

This is a niche app that will have future versions. Students are asked to play scales correctly on an on-screen keyboard. This will help the knight slay the dragon and find the treasure.

There are presets for different tests.

Students of all ages like this “quirky” yet much-needed app.


Luke is happy to hear from you and can be reached at support@flashnote.com. Thanks again to Luke for making three apps I couldn’t teach without!

This video is stored along with other “Here to Help Videos” found here.

Those who signed up for my newsletter learned about the giveaway Luke offered. Don’t miss another exclusive offer by signing up here.


If you can’t see the video, click here.


The ONE thing that holds the power to motivate

Stickers, charts, money, candy, points, and prizes are frequently used to motivate students but, do they really work?  Is it our job as teachers to motivate our students? From what I’ve experienced, incentives and even teachers do NOT hold the power to motivate.

I believe progress holds the power to motivate.

Let me explain with a personal experience.


Joe, my cool cycle instructor, is on the far left. Tap on the picture to learn more about my cycle class that motivates.

In a Friday morning cycle class, we were challenged to pedal one mile in three minutes. Joe, the instructor, set the large timer in front of the room for the three-minute countdown, cranked up the music and even the disco lights to charge us up for the “road” ahead.

The small computer on my cycle showed me the time, how fast I was pedaling and gradually added one tenth of a mile as my feet went round and round. I thought I was not that competitive, but, it turns out that I was extremely driven to reach the mile mark by the end of three minutes. Joe strategically included the one-mile challenge not just once but, three times within the hour to build up endurance. Even though the last mile 3-minute mile was the hardest, I did not let myself slip. I was determined to beat the clock and improve my stamina.

I discovered that this challenge wasn’t about beating anybody else, it was all about successfully reaching the goal set before me. Clocking the time, adjusting my speed and pushing myself kept me moving forward to earn the “prize.” The fact that I met the goal in the first three-minute round empowered me to carry on and push forward and do it again and then again. I was motivated!

Progress has a magnetic pull. Once we experience progress and see the success that it brings, we want more. It entices us because it makes us feel good. The more progress we make, the better we feel so we try for it again and again.

Progress = The advancement or development towards a better state.

Joe’s calorie-burner choreography uses objective-based skills and measurements to help cyclers reach their anaerobic threshold. In other words, the class promises to burn calories, strengthen muscles and build endurance. The result: cyclers make progress towards maintaining or achieving fitness for a lifetime. I went home from class high on endorphins, ready for a shower and also feeling successful because I beat the clock. (Learn more about this format in this video which features Joe on a local TV station.) 

This fitness class scenario is not that much different from those who are learning an instrument. If students are given a challenge and succeed, it’s addicting. The rush that success brings triggers the desire for more challenges to conquer. That’s called motivation or specifically intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes naturally from within and does not come from outside rewards like stickers or bribery, which are extrinsic motivators.

Motivation =  The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Is it the teacher’s job to motivate? From my cycle-class experience, I’d say we teachers need to modify that description. Our job is to set challenges for our students and to equip them to succeed and progress. Joe didn’t have to bribe me with coffee and a scone to succeed, he just provided the objective and set the clock. In the same way, the promise and thrill of progress is what will drive budding musicians to their instrument on a daily basis. Stickers, candy and bribes don’t hold the promise of progress and won’t cut it in the long run.

Teachers = equip students with skills to succeed.

Progress = holds the power to motivate.

The essential “equipment” students need to see progress are practice strategies guaranteed to conquer challenges between lessons. Science has shown that the six strategies listed below will do just that. These are a critical part of any curriculum and should be put into action at every lesson.

Six Scientifically Proven Practice Strategies that Promise Progress

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How a Teacher Empowered her Piano Students to Plan a Fund-Raising Studio Recital

Renée Holliman is a fine teacher who lives close to Atlanta, Georgia who came up with a brilliant idea for a studio recital. I know she’s a fine teacher because I saw her in action at the Savvy Musician in Action. You can read all about our experience here but, in a nutshell, Savvy Musician in Action is David Cutler’s immersive event for wanna-be entrepreneurs in the arts.

Posing with new life-long friends and fellow piano teachers. We survived SAVVY! BUT, the pic is missing dear Becky who got sick and had to return home :-(

Posing with new life-long friends and fellow piano teachers: Renée is in the white, Marie is in the middle. Sadly, the pic is missing dear Becky who got sick and had to return home 🙁

Renée, along with Marie Lee and Becky Cappelli went with me on this venture and we all came back with input overload and memories for a life time. Renée was the captain of my team during the event and boy, did she keep us on track.

What you’ll read below is all about “Ms Holliman” in action with her own very fortunate students. I’m so eager to implement this plan for my studio recital this spring. I think you will be, too.

Take it away, Renée–oops, I mean Ms Holliman…

The idea of a student produced and performed concert occurred to me around April or May of 2016. I announced the idea to everyone who attended my student “Almost Summer Recital.”

I called the first meeting in July and three students attended:

a 1st grader,

a 3rd grader

a 5th grader.

They were very quiet but, with my prompting they were able to come up with

a date of September 11th,

a venue,

the possible cost of the venue,

and what we should charge for tickets – as this was going to also be a fundraiser.

I had them figure out what job they would like to take on.

“A” likes to chat and is real good with people so I suggested she be the publicist and she took care of emails and social media.

“E” and “H” are siblings, I suggested they be the marketing team. They were VERY apprehensive.

“H” was to design the logo – he’d never really touched a computer other than playing games on it. He said, “I don’t know how to do that”……below is what was emailed to me 2 days later, I was so impressed!


Next, I set up a meeting with Mr. Mills, the V.P of our local Steinway Piano Galleries so that E, H and A could reserve the date and discuss the fee for the venue. E, H and A got spiffed up and I had them rehearse what to say and how to conduct themselves. We practiced shaking hands, greeting, looking the person in the eye and being respectful. We also practiced what to say and how to negotiate. They got all spiffed up, I met them there, gave them a pep talk and sent them in and I waited outside.


A, E and H meeting with Mr. Mills

After the meeting A, E and H were beaming from ear to ear and so proud of themselves and their accomplishment of meeting with the V.P. of Steinway Piano Galleries of Atlanta! Mr. Mills was so impressed and said they did a great job. They negotiated the date, time and rental cost of the recital hall (which was $0.00.)

Our next team meeting was well attended and I set up a table and chairs boardroom style. They sat quiet and wide-eyed. Again, I asked them lots of questions to get their creative juices flowing about

ticket price and design,

charity to donate the proceeds,

and who would do what.

They each wrote down ideas for a name for their concert. I emailed many people with these names to vote on their favorite. With all the votes tallied, the name evolved and became…

Holliman’s Student Extravaganza

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The photo above shows some of the names they came up with. You’ll notice the team members are all pretty young by their penmanship.  In the other photo is the team discussing ideas and planning.

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Above are the tickets that were to be sold and the poster–totally designed by the marketing team.

I attended the Savvy Musician In Action Conference this past summer and learned a ton on how to make “it” happen. The “it” in this case was the concert. At Savvy we used large Post-It paper on the walls to keep us organized…..well, I had the concert team do the same. It was great for figuring things out and brainstorming. The kids LOVED writing on the Post-It paper and they all begged to get a turn to do so. Below is an example of the Post-It paper.

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Above left is a worksheet where they were figuring out their possible income from ticket sales and donations.

The other is a photo of the math of the treasurer who is a 13-year-old math genius. They found out that the recital hall fit 90 people comfortably and 100–not so comfortably. Our treasurers figured they could bring in at least $470 as they were also going to sell tickets at the door for $7.00.
At the next meeting I handed the team a computer and an iPad to find an organization to which they would donate the proceeds of their concert. Again, most of them hadn’t really done much research on a computer. They found quite a few but, selected the organization called Tuesday’s Children.

Tuesday’s Children was formed after 9/11 to take care of the needs of the children that lost their parents in the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the 300 unborn babies who lost their fathers.

I called the organization, talked to them and learned so much. They are evolving since the children are now getting older. The unborn children are now 15 years old. Now they offer help to people who have been impacted by any terrorist attack and other acts of violence.

The tasks that the students assigned themselves were all suited to their strengths; for example, the marketing team went gangbusters and sold the most tickets and asked everyone in their circle to come.

There was a job for everyone. My newer student, “T”(2nd grader), is very quiet and shy so I asked if she would like to design a Tuesday’s Children Donation Box. She did a wonderful job and put a lot of thought into it.

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Four students wanted to host the recital as they liked to speak in front of an audience. I wrote the script and handed it to them to figure out who would say what and when. They did an awesome job and owned it by memorizing their parts and making little note cards just in case they had a memory slip.

We had one dress rehearsal two days before. H’s Dad offered to run the recorded music prior to the concert and videos of snippets from Tuesday’s Children. He then handed all the information to his son and said “this is for you to figure out how it’s going to happen and I’ll help you” (loved that.)

On Holliman’s Student Extravaganza rehearsal day everyone was excited!

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September 11, 2016 arrived and the concert went off without a hitch. The students decided to enter the recital hall as a processional at show time carrying an American flag with the national anthem playing. What was so unexpected and moving was the audience all stood and sang the National anthem.

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In the photo above, you see a TV that we used to show the snippets of Tuesday ‘s Children videos for the audience to get a better understanding of the organization.

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After the concert the marketing team approached the audience as they were leaving to donate to Tuesday’s Children with the donation box and they were quite successful at it.

The following week the Finance Team went to work. I wanted to give the performers a stipend from the ticket sales for all of their hard work. The Finance Team met and did the math to see if this would be possible as they could only use the money from ticket sales. Over 57 tickets were sold plus they had many buy tickets at the door.

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They were able to give each performer a $6.00 stipend but most of the performers donated their stipend to Tuesday’s Children. The projected donation to Tuesday’s Children through ticket sales and donations was exceeded! Our extravaganza made a donation of almost $500!! Tuesday’s Children was so pleased and they have asked the team if they would do this again next year.
What I noticed after this experience, is that my students have exceeded their musical benchmarks. This concert was such an enriching experience and I have seen my their musical skills grow and their level of playing increase. Because I put the responsibility on them, they now understand the wonderful results that occur with planning, practice, diligence and teamwork.


Some of the Holliman’s Student Extravaganza performers and team.

Thank you, Renée, for such an inspiring project and post. Please thank all your industrious and dedicated students, too!


Essentials for the Worship Team Pianist

Equipping a student with reading and memorizing skills may develop a capable pianist but, nowadays those limited skills aren’t going to cut it. Most pianists are or will be called upon to play beyond the score and read chord charts and play with bands or worship teams. Preparing for this position requires good ears, knowledge of chords and a willingness to collaborate.


Drew Collins

In our next 88 Creative Keys Webinar, we (Bradley Sowash and me, Leila Viss) are excited to have Drew Collins join us. He’s spent over twenty years leading worship and training worship leaders and musicians. This past summer, I invited Drew to a worship team workshop for my students and found Drew’s ideas so worthwhile that we decided to feature him in our next webinar: “Essentials for the Worship Team Pianist.”


Drew sharing words of wisdom at my summer studio workshop.

Drew Collins has spent twenty years leading worship and training worship leaders and musicians. He earned his B.A. in Music from the University of Northern Colorado and his M.A. in Ministry Leadership from Crown College. A singer, songwriter, and liturgist, he lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, CO. I have the pleasure of being on staff  with Drew at South Suburban Christian Church, in Littleton, Colorado.

In the first portion of the webinar, Drew and I will discuss:

  • The three roles of a worship team pianist.
  • The latest tech tools used by most worship teams.
  • Tips on how to build required skills.
  • What worship leaders expect of a pianist.
  • Common mistakes pianists make when playing with a band.
  • Characteristics of a strong worship team pianist.
  • Some tricks of the trade.

Bradley Sowash

In the next portion, Bradley will cover:

  • What to play when unrehearsed background music is needed.
  • Heighten your awareness of thinking and playing in musical layers.
  • Tips for pianists about feeling the groove in a band.
  • Improvising and/or arranging a traditional hymn for contemporary worship.

Don’t miss this workshop! Even if your students don’t play in a worship band, with this webinar you’ll be able to coach those who may wish to play in a “garage band.” You’ll find all the ideas we feature in the webinar will crossover to any band experience. Your students will thank you. Bonus: it may give you the skills you need to play in a band yourself!




A Look Back at Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources in 2016

Grab a cup of coffee–here’s 40 resources worth your time!

My friend and colleague Marie Lee and I compiled a list of winning resources that worked for us in 2016, and we can’t wait to share them with you. They are organized according to topic.

What did we forget? We didn’t include everything we intended–we had to stop some where.

What would you add to the list?

Professional and Creative Development


Piano Teacher Planning Center is a brand new component of  88pianokeys.me. I’m so excited to piano teacherplanning centerhave a store–no, a center–where teachers will find a growing collection of free and for-purchase teaching aids, some created by me but others created by fellow teachers who have great ideas.

In celebration of the new year, there’s a store-wide sale until January 15, 2017. By the way, if you have a cool game or product that you want to sell, contact me at lviss@me.com and let’s plan to make it part of the PTPC in 2017. -Leila


I attended my first 88 Creative Keys Workshop in Denver this past summer. I waited almost an entire year and 88 CK was well worth it! It was one of the best things I could do for my continuing education as a teacher.  You can read reviews from 2016 attendees here and learn more about 2017’s workshop here. -Marie
Here’s a video of Leila leading a body beat activity with teachers.


Tim Topham’s podcasts keep me happily occupied on my Sunday afternoon walks. I look forward to them each week. Tim finds the best guests who discuss–you guessed it–trendsetting topics! Here are seven of my favorite podcasts because they deal with creativity at the keys. -Leila


I look forward to Amy Chaplin’s Piano Pantry Friday Finds. Amy is one of my new, favorite bloggers. -Marie


Even though I didn’t practice like I should have, I learned so much from Bradley’s online lesson session that I can use with my students. Bradley Sowash is encouraging and informative. It has opened up a whole new world of piano playing for me. -Marie


ForScore, Turbo Scan, the Air Turn Pedal and the iPad Pro is a combo I’ve used every Sunday since writing my December 2015 blog post. I’m not sure how I survived without this set up. In the post you’ll learn how I move hard copy sheet music to ForScore so I can enjoy hands-free page turns. This is the wave of the future for reading scores. -Leila Read More

Celebrate the Season with Winter Window Frost, a Piano Solo


Around a Late Intermediate Level

Growing up in Iowa made me extremely thankful for the promise of Spring. While we waited for a hint of green grass, my family hunkered down on winter break afternoons in down vests and heavy sweaters to stay warm in the house. My dad made every effort to keep the heating bill to a minimum by setting the thermometer to a balmy (?) 65 degrees.

Since the wind chill usually made it too cold to go anywhere, Mom would set out a 1,000-piece puzzle on a card table. After mixing some hot cocoa and marshmallows (of course!), we’d slowly sort and fit the pieces. There was never a rush to complete it as we enjoyed the company and the Vivaldi album blasting from the console.


Digital Download with Single or Studio License

I can’t recall the first time I heard the Winter movements but I’ve always felt they carry an energetic resolve to power through the bleak, gray sky, icy floor and frigid landscape of the season. The melody of the second movement —Largo—offers a glimmer of hope with its enchanting beauty. I immediately thought of this short movement when I saw my mom’s photos of frost she captured on her winter windows. The beauty that the unforgiving combination of cold and moisture can bring to a window pane is breath-taking. With a contemporary twist, my setting weaves the warmth of the hot cocoa and the puzzle table with snippets of cold winter winds on the other side of the frosted window pane.

A good portion of my inspiration to create is thanks to my mother,  Joanne Alberda. She was a dynamic professor of art and art education for over 30 years at Dordt College in my home town of Sioux Center, Iowa. Since her retirement, she continues to explore her favorite mediums: textiles and photography. Before she secured her college position, she was a pianist, an organist, a 5th grade classroom teacher and a piano teacher. I did not fall far from the tree!

Borrowing from her vast collection of work for the “cover” of this digital download seems logical and suits my style. In my setting and in her photo you’ll see and hear that we both like to experiment with colors, magnify the wonders of nature, and discover an unexpected angle. Follow this link if you can’t see the video below of my performance.

Speaking of borrowing, you’ll notice that Vivaldi is quoted throughout this piano solo. 

Mom says this:

“It’s not true that we are better if we are totally original.  Standing on the shoulders of great artists is totally valid.  They did the same thing! -Joanne Alberda

Winter Window Frost is on sale and available for purchase with a single user or studio license. Get your copy by clicking on the frosted window below.


Have you listened to Infant Holy, Infant Lowly? It’ a markedly different arrangement of this sacred lullaby for flute and piano that could work for violin as well. It’s on sale, too! While your there, check out my growing library of sheet music.

Merry Christmas and blessings to you and yours in 2017!


Drumming Cards 9-12 and Three Reasons to Stick Around

We fast forwarded the 12 days of drumming into 7 and now the final round of holiday bucket drumming cards are included below. Thanks for your patience as we drummed up ideas for your holiday fun! Pun intended.

Another thank you to SO many of you who purchased Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers. Remember, it’s still on sale through December so share the news with your friends! Order it here.

And the credit goes to…

This flurry of upbeat ideas for the holidays could not have happened without thefunkeylogo-web-e1412370119928 efforts of my good friends and colleagues Marie Lee and Heather Nanney. Marie and Heather are to be credited as the imagineers for most of the cards. As they came up with the ideas, I produced the cards and delivered them to you. I could have never done this series of posts without their creative minds!

FYI: Heather is extremely creative and offers fabulous teaching ideas at her blog with the best name ever: FunKey Music! She posted a must-have freebie called The Ultimate Chord Bundle to help categorize, color code and spell chords. Follow this link to get yours now–the bundle is brilliant.13528831_263815857314918_5066482634924078563_n

FYI: Marie has forged into a new, exciting studio expansion and never seems to run out of ideas or energy. Check out her Musicality Schools website here and be inspired by its attractive organization and content. If you recall, Marie was featured in an article at 88pianokeys.me around a year ago. Her studio and business has skyrocketed since then! Look for the article here and learn why she never wanted to be a piano teacher. Really?

The three of us were on fire to get these cards out to you ASAP so we do hope you will include them AND enjoy them in your holiday lesson plans. We’d love to hear how it goes for you.

What does bucket drumming look like?

Below is a sneak peek at bucket drumming to the Tchaikovsky’s Russian Dance. I had drummed with the students through this piece and guided them in a “choreography” to go with the soundtrack. Then I asked if they would do it again so I could take a video.

If you notice, the 4th grade young man took charge and led the others in the “dance.” The gal in the pink was wondering why we were drumming in piano lessons. You may ask the same thing.

What I see in this video: active listening skills, large muscle and memorable responses to the music, ensemble work, conducting and smiles. All with some buckets, sticks and a few giggles. If you can’t see the video below, follow this link.

We wish you a merry and musical December!

Some reasons to stick around…

#1 If you signed up for any of the drumming cards or any of the products in The Piano Teacher Planning Center, you will automatically receive my newsletter. I send it out about twice a month and catch you up on things going on at the blog and usually announce or offer something new.

In next week’s newsletter, I’ll include a link to all 12 cards–4 per sheet–that you can easily print off or better yet, access on your iPad via iBooks or Notability.

#2 Speaking of the Piano Teacher Planning Center, you do not want to miss the latest addition provided by Andrea West. Andrea is a graphic designer and a piano teacher who has created images that are ideal for your upcoming holiday recital program covers, party invitations and/or camp binders.

Click on the image below to order Andrea’s covers and get them on sale for $4.97! It’s a bargain and you’ll have images for many years to come! Free bonus: she includes instructions on how to create your program in Word and offers images for Facebook props to congratulate your students. Get ’em here.


#3 I can’t wait to share a new rhythm game called Rhythm on a Roll that helps students of all levels understand adding and dividing note values. It’s something that works well in groups or during Off-Bench Time and correlates nicely with my off-bench resource called Rhythm Make it Count. It’s been tested all week long in my group lessons and has been met with strong approval. They didn’t want to stop playing! Stay tuned for a free printable coming your way soon.

Get your last four Holiday Bucket Drumming cards by clicking here or on the image below and thanks again for your support!


Remember, happy students STICK around!


12 Days of Drumming: Cards 5-8: Make Rhythms Relevant


How is rhythm connected to these cute holiday books? Read on…

As promised, we are putting a rush on the 12 Days of Drumming cards so you can make your plans for your upcoming holiday parties, groups lessons and camps.

If you haven’t been following this series of posts, Heather Nanney and Marie Lee and I are creating 12 supplemental cards to coincide with our resource we created called Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers.

Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers is on sale for $29 and it is definitely worth every penny as you’ll be able to use the ideas for your summer camps and now with these new cards, tailor bucket drumming activities to suit your holiday studio plans.

The buckets and creative activities make playing and reading rhythms fun! That was our collective goal as understanding rhythms is complex and difficult for most young musicians. We’ve come up with 80+ engaging ideas that boost strong rhythm skills.

Be honest, how many kids do you know, jump up and down with glee when asked to count out loud? Our plans connect with kids and will get them counting because they UNDERSTAND WHY they need to count!

Before you download Cards 5-8 (available below) I want to share why I believe these activities featured on the holiday cards and those in our resource are so important to the process of learning rhythm.

With drums, common words and phrases and other off bench activities, we are making rhythm notation relevant by matching note values and rhythms with familiar patterns. Let me explain with an example outside of the music field.

Last evening I was enjoying the company of a 2-1/2-year-old girl and her younger 1-1/2-year-old brother. We were celebrating the arrival of their younger sister (yes this is a BUSY household) and so I brought the Chunky Pack: Christmas  by Roger Priddy as a gift for them.

They could not get enough of the books. They loved holding the small but chunky books and gazing at the brightly colored pictures inside.

The idea of each perfectly-sized-for-little-hands book is simple: while one page shows a colorful graphic of a holiday image like a Christmas tree, the other side identifies the image with letters forming the words: CHRISTMAS TREE.

Since the 1 -1/2 year old didn’t own very many words yet and was quite content with his pacifier, he happily pointed at the objects while sitting on my lap. But, I guided his older sister to say the words on the page. Of course, she said “Christmas tree” because she quickly identified the object from the picture.  Soon, I covered up the image and she recognized the words without needing the picture.

Was she recognizing the letters, putting them together and reading the words? Maybe, maybe not, but she was making a connection that letters hooked together make symbols for Christmas stuff like Christmas trees and reindeer.

In a way, this is what the cards in our 12 Days of Drumming Cards feature. They encourage drummers to relate the names of favorite holiday items, toys and the phrases of well-known carols to note values and rhythm patterns.

Examples of matching words with rhythm notation:
please don't make me count out loud!

  • Elf = quarter note
  • Santa = two eighth notes
  • Jingle bells, jingle bells = two 8ths quarter, two 8ths quarter.

By relating familiar words and phrases to rhythm notation, drummers begin to make connections and lock in the vocabulary of what we call rhythm.

With the help of the tissue rhythm boxes as seen in the picture above, drummers notice that groups of smaller note values will share one beat AND that each beat still lasts for one box–the same amount of time.

One supplemental card in this next bunch includes a great idea for teaching tempi and dynamic contrasts.

ALL the activities require physical action, dictation, listening, notation and/or team work which guarantee solid comprehension.

Click on the drumming reindeer below to get your next 4 cards.

Still need the first four cards? Follow this link.