Category Archives: Piano Lessons

3 Off Bench Activities for Young Piano Students

Off Bench Activities for Littles.png

Finding “off bench” activities for very young piano students can sometimes feel a little bit tricky. They don’t have enough music theory knowledge to play the  games you use with regular beginners, and most of the cool music apps out there are too tricky for them to use just yet.

Here are a few activities that I keep in my toolbox to help my  piano littles avoid getting restless or bored during lesson time… and two downloadable freebies at the bottom of the post. Skip to the downloads! Continue reading


Filed under Piano Games, Piano Lessons, teaching tips

Introducing Lead Sheets


Just a little snapshot of Caroline as she works on syncing up with a backing track from Supersonics Piano Plus. The pieces she’s working on come from the Supersonics Piano Blast Off! Galaxy Pack by Daniel McFarlane, which contains a whopping total of 576 pieces in 6 different keys. (C, G, D, A, F, and E).

Daniel’s reproducible book incorporates solid technique and lead sheet reading, so it’s a resource that I love to use with older beginners because it helps them sound awesome from Day 1. Before I introduce the backing tracks, I often improvise with my students to give them a sense of how much “fuller” the sound can be if we add more rhythmic and harmonic interest. Continue reading


Filed under Chord Progressions, Four Chord Songs, Piano Book Reviews, Piano Lessons, Teens and Tweens

Book Club: Coffee With Ray

51+03Jfvv8L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpegCoffee with Ray has been sitting in my “to read” pile for the past several weeks. While I will admit to peeking through a few pages, I’ve been saving it for my trip to Vermont at the end of March.

Recently I had a really unique opportunity to speak with the author Nick Ambrosino as part of an upcoming webinar series about teaching tweens and teens.

Hands down, that was one of my favorite experiences in our project, and now I’m really looking forward to reading this book on my trip!

Here’s a little snippet about Coffee with Ray from GoodReads: Continue reading

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Filed under Piano Lessons, Teens and Tweens

What’s Hot? Building Rapport with Teens

Hey piano teachers… I’ve got something a little different for you today. Here’s a quick video tip about building rapport with teens and tweens during lesson time. Click here to download the “What’s Hot?” Top 10 List.

Do you have a question about teaching teens and tweens? Comment below or send me an email and I’ll try to answer your question in a future video!


Look for more tips about teaching teens and tweens here on the blog throughout March. Follow my FB Live videos on the Upbeat Piano Teacher Facebook page.

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Filed under Free Downloads, Piano Lessons, Teens and Tweens

A “Gold” Incentive in the 30 Piece Challenge

Yesterday a student of mine reached his 10th piece in the 30 Piece Challenge that we started in January.  John was the first student to reach 10 pieces.  He’s also a brand new student, and so it was a pretty big deal that he was in the lead!

He was absolutely beaming when he left the studio with his “gold” prize 🙂

How I’m Using the 30 Piece Challenge:

We started our incentive in January, which isn’t how you typically use this challenge. (It’s supposed to start at the beginning of the school year.) We’re running ours through the end of the summer, as I thought it might be a nice way to keep momentum going throughout the summer months.

This is my first time using the program, and so far I really like it. It’s simple to keep track, doesn’t take a lot of time to mark during lessons, and it gives students a sense of achievement when they reach their milestones. Continue reading

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Filed under Incentive Programs, Piano Lessons, teaching tips