A Piano Haiku

Peaceful, Sunlit Room Playing Piano Making Music Fills with Joy
Music Haiku: Peaceful, Sunlit Room Playing Piano Making Music Fills with Joy

March Announcements

March Announcements

Dear parents, please take a moment to read these important announcements. Having so many students can make it difficult to get info out to every parent just through conversations, so these monthly announcements ensure I’ve reached everyone. Thank you!

  1. Facebook Live – March 18th and April 15th, 1pm

    If your child is interested in performing, please speak with me as soon as possible. Also, if your child is not performing, please join us online at www.facebook.com/thebyearmusician to watch the live performances!

  2. Request for Testimonials

    Testimonies from our students help us grow. If you have a few minutes, any positive feedback that you could provide would be very much appreciated! They can be in written or video format. The testimonials will go up on the blog, the TBEM facebook page and website, and on a music teacher directory I have a profile on (MakingMusicFun.net). Students can also provide feedback if they would like to!

  3. Printable Resources available, $1 each

For students needing resources printed from the blog, I am now able to print out the free printables and give them out at their lesson for a fee of $1 per resource item (covers time, paper, ink). For large documents such as the Classical Guitar Method Book, $1 will cover five pages.

  1. Concert Events Added

    The events page on the blog now has some new events, all of which are free. They include a piano recital, steel drum band, and wind symphony. TBEM will be attending the piano recital, given by concert pianist Michael Lewin, on Monday, March 20th at 7:30pm. Please let me know if you and your family are interested in joining us!

  2. Public School Spring Break

    Please note that TBEM will NOT be closed for the week of Spring Break (March 20-24).

  1. Africa Ensemble Information

    To be a part of the Africa Ensemble for the June recitals, you MUST be available for the following dates for rehearsals and performances:

    REHEARSAL: Saturday, June 3rd – any time between 2pm and 8pm

    REHEARSAL: Friday, June 9th – any time between 6pm and 8pm

    PERFORMANCE: Saturday, June 10th – 4pm

    PERFORMANCE: Sunday, June 11th – 4pm

    These two main rehearsals will focus mainly on the entire ensemble rehearsing together. You may not be needed for the entire time, but we won’t really know what the schedule will be like until we’re closer to those dates and have an idea of how everyone is doing.It’s also important that you are prepared to come to possible secondary rehearsals just for your section (just singers, or just percussion, etc). They may not be necessary but we won’t really know until we’re closer to June. They would occur sometime after June 3rd and before the 9th.

Intro to Music Theory 2: The C Major Scale and how to find any other Major scale.

piano scale C major music theory lessons
One Octave of the C major scale

In lesson one, we learned about the Chromatic Scale, Half Steps,and Whole steps. Now, it’s time to learn about the C Major Scale and how to find any other Major Scale. It’s important to remember the definition of a scale:

A specific series or pattern of notes, played in ascending (going up) or descending (going down) order.C scale chart for guitar

Take a look at the charts here for what the C scale looks like on the piano and guitar. Then, watch this video to hear and see what the scale sounds like on the piano. *NOTE*: although the notes are played differently on the guitar, they are the exact same pitches.

How does the major scale work? It uses a specific pattern of whole and half steps.

C major piano scale whole step half step
Enter a caption

Two whole steps, one half step, three whole steps, and one more half step.

Using this formula, you can find ANY major scale on your instrument!

Watch the next few minutes of this video:

Now it’s your turn! Download the PDF and fill in the whole steps and half steps to complete the scales or fill out the form below. Major Scales Worksheet

music, major scales, names of the notes, music theory, worksheet
A worksheet to fill out the names of the notes for five major scales

Practicing Effectively


Additional Questions on Practice Time Log

In the Practice Time Log section, you will see that there are some additional questions for you to answer about how you practiced. The reason for this is that it’s very important for you to think about how you’re practicing.

Let’s pretend you’re working on a song, let’s say Arabesque for example. What is the first thing that we generally do when learning a new song?

If piano is your instrument, we’ll probably start with playing through a little bit of the RH part by itself, then a little bit of the LH part by itself, and then we’ll try playing through with both hands at the same time, very slowly.

If guitar or violin is your instrument, we won’t need to do RH and LH by itself, and we’ll just start very slowly playing a small section from the beginning, or we’ll work on being able to play the chords we’re using in the song before we go on to playing the actual song.

What needs to happen before we can go on to the next part of the song?

1) Do the notes need to be correct?

2) Are you playing the right notes with the right fingers (are you following the finger numbers?)

3) Does the song or exercise need to be played with a faster tempo (the speed) so it will sound like how it’s supposed to sound?

4) If you’re playing piano, do you need to be playing both hands together?


When you’re playing your instrument during the week, how can you think about and make these things happen so we can learn the next part of the song in your class?

This is one very important point that you need to remember:

The more you teach yourself to play the right notes with the right fingering and right tempo during the week, the more we are able to learn new things in class – like the next part of a song or a whole new song!


One thing that it is VERY EASY to do when practicing is to just keep playing the song over and over without really doing anything to fix the problems that are coming up. If you’re playing Arabesque, and there are two notes that you keep playing wrong over and over, will those two notes get fixed if you just keep playing the song over and over? Probably not. What is a good way to fix those two notes?

  1. Practice just the section with those two notes by themselves until you are playing them correctly.
  2. Play that little section much slower to make sure you can get those notes correct.
  3. Don’t let yourself play the wrong notes – go back and fix it if they are wrong.
  4. When you can get the notes right, play the little section several times to make sure you can KEEP playing it right.

AFTER you are able to play the notes correctly this way, then go back to the beginning and play the whole song. The problem should be fixed! If not, go back and practice the section again.

Take a look at this video  – the guy in this video is talking about something similar. Sometimes we might have a section in a piece that is a lot harder, so we play it slower than the rest of the piece. See what this guy does.


Remember, playing something the right way only one time does not mean that you have mastered it and can go on to something else. You only know that you can officially play a song or exercise the right way after you have played it the right way many times.

Practice does not mean playing until you get it right and then stopping – it is continuing to play when you do get it right to make sure it stays right.


If you use these ideas, your practicing at home will help you get better much faster!

Contact me if you have any questions 🙂



Intro to Music Theory, Part 1: Chromatic Scale, Half Steps, and Whole Steps

Good afternoon! This is the first video in a series that is designed to help my students better understand how the music they play works. It will also help with ear training and sight reading. Here are the main vocabulary words to keep track of:

Chromatic Scale – the series of all the notes, moving up or down by half steps

Half Step – moving from one note to the note right next to it

Whole Step – moving from a note to another note, but skipping just one note in the middle

*Just as a disclaimer, I don’t have super duper recording or video software, but this does get the job done!

After watching this video, take a look at the chart below that is appropriate for your instrument. For guitar and violin, the notes move up in pitch as you move down the fingerboard. Chromatic Scale

Fret Chart for Guitar - Right HandedBeginning Violin Fingerboard Chart


Here is a worksheet to help you recognize whole steps and half steps by sight and by ear. Make sure to hit play on the videos.

Then you can head over to the post on Melodic Direction to learn about how the movements from one note to the other are categorized and what they sound like.

Learning about Dynamics with Arabesque



Today we’re going to talk about Dynamics. In music, dynamics has to do with how loud or how soft you are playing. The main terms I want you to remember are piano, forte, crescendo, and decrescendo.

Instead of just reading a bunch of words about it, however, here are some amusing videos that help get the point across:

Forte and Piano

Crescendo and Decrescendo

There are actually a lot more than just these four terms though! Here is a chart of some of them.
Dynamic Markings

I thought this one was interesting because it helps give an understandable idea of what the sound difference is supposed to be:

Dynamic's Note Velocity

For even more information, you can check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamics_%28music%29

And that’s about it! Go back to the recording of Arabesque above and listen for the different dynamics when the markings appear.

Have a great day!

Danielle 🙂



Pachelbel’s Canon in D

Two posts for this week!

Pachelbel’s Canon is one of the most well known classical pieces in the world. It was written around 1680 for three violins and a bass by Johann Pachelbel, a German composer. Today, it is frequently used as wedding music.

Here is a great link if you would like to learn a little bit more about the piece and listen to a youtube video of it: http://www.classicfm.com/composers/pachelbel/music/pachelbels-canon-d-facts/#mU3krF2CqPIGDzFY.97

For those of you who are playing this piece, I have some files for you. These are midi recordings of the music and the sheet music for the part you will play by itself, and all the parts together. A midi recording is electronic, so it may sound a little weird, but it’s still helpful to have.

Part 1 Only
Audio: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B98pP6Nhq8BEMkZGT0xud05WYkk/view?usp=sharing
Sheet Music:Canon in D part 1 PDF

All Parts
Audio: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B98pP6Nhq8BEakMtcV9PaHdHX2M/view?usp=sharing
Sheet Music:Canon in D PDF

There are two main ideas that are important to know about Canon in D. The first is that this piece is a type of music called a Canon. The second is that in this Canon, Pachelbel uses something called an Ostinato.

See the below video for a good (and rather silly) explanation of a Canon, also known as a Round:

Pachelbel uses an Ostinato throughout the entire piece. It’s the bassline you hear that goes like this:

D A B F# G D G A

To understand what an Ostinato is a bit better, check out this video:

Before I go, I thought I’d explain a little bit of how I made the sheet music and recordings. There are some wonderful computer programs that allow you to write music on your computer and it will play back what you have written using special audio software. The program I use is Finale. You get to enter in the notes on the staff with your mouse or keyboard. Here’s a picture so you can see:

Screen Shot of Finale

So on the top and left, you can see all the buttons for picking out certain kinds of notes, rests, time and key signatures, etc. It can be pretty fun actually!

Finally, if you prefer this instead, I have some youtube videos of the recordings.

SO much information in one post! Haha

If you are interested in playing Pachelbel’s canon, please download the music and we can work on it in class 🙂

Have a great day!

Arranging Music: Amazing Grace

Today a student asked if I would play Amazing Grace and sing it; unfortunately we were out of time, so I suggested posting a video of me singing/playing it instead. However, I realized that Amazing Grace would be a good piece to use for examples of basic arranging ideas that can be used for many songs. The video is also going to explain some important things like Inversions, Suspended Chords, and Seventh Chords.

Just a few notes:

– For the opening part where I’m singing, the left hand is playing octave bass notes and arpeggiating (playing the notes one at a time) the chords in the right hand.

– In the video, the term I couldn’t think of for extra notes not in the chord are nonchord tones or nonharmonic tones.

Let me know if you have any questions! If you come up with your own arrangement of Amazing Grace, send it to me and I’ll post it here on the blog!

🙂 Danielle




Always Growing



It’s hard to believe that this video of me playing the piano is over four years old. Where has the time gone?? It feels like it wasn’t really that long ago that I would frequently shut myself up in a practice room at the university and practice for as long as I could. In this particular video, I was preparing for giving my solo junior recital.

It’s interesting, though, that as I listen to this recording, I can hear things about how I was playing back then that make me think if I was playing this piece today that I would do it a bit differently. The name of this piece is called “Un Sospiro.” It’s a transcendental etude by Franz Liszt. Un Sospiro means “A sigh” in French. Does this piece sound like a sigh to you?

To me, it does. This is actually a fairly good interpretation of this piece. However, I think it might sound a bit more like a sigh though if it was actually a little bit slower. Sometimes, a few places feel like I’m “rushing” through playing the notes. Also, having more of a ritardando (slowing the tempo down at certain places in the music, which can give a more dramatic or emotional effect) at times and perhaps more changes in dynamics (how loud or soft the music is) by having more crescendos and decrescendos, which mean to gradually get louder and gradually get softer, respectively.

How is it that I can see ways to make improvements now and not back when I was playing this piece? Well for one, I don’t remember how far into practicing this piece I was, and some of these things might have been corrected later down the road. The other thing though, is that as I’ve gotten older and had more experience with playing, listening to, and teaching music, my understanding as matured. This will happen with you, too. You may look back at a recording of you performing a piece that you played two or three years ago at a recital and think of all the things you would do different now – it’s because your ability to play and your understanding of how music works has “grown up” a little.

The interesting thing about being a musician is that there is always that room for our understanding and ability to “grow up” a little. Even if you have been playing for a really long time, there is always something new to learn, and something new to accomplish! And that is completely normal. Being a good musician doesn’t mean that you have learned everything that there is to learn and that you are perfect at everything you do. No one has done that! The important thing is that you keep growing. Don’t be discouraged if sometimes it feels like you’re not growing in piano, or whatever other instrument you play. As long as you’re working towards your goals and not giving up, you are definitely growing. Just like how you’re physically growing now, if you’re still a kid. You can’t see it, but it’s never stopped happening since the day you were born.

Do you have questions about how to grow as a musician and get better at your instrument? Ask me!

Hope you have a great day 🙂