Born to Deliver is Ready for Delivery!

After nearly two years of work, I’m thrilled to report that Born to Deliver is hot off the press and ready to make its way into the hands of millions of readers throughout the world! 🙂

Check out the Born to Deliver website to read the first chapter, find out more about the book, read the latest updates, and (of course!) place your order. And if you specify in the notes that you’d like an autograph, I’d be happy to personally autograph copies of the book for you and/or anyone on your Christmas list who would enjoy this inspiring true story of love and redemption!

Free Music, Film, and Audio Engineering Courses On-line

Thanks to Music Matters Blog reader Victoria Shaw for alerting me to this collection of free on-line courses from Coursera on the topics of music, film, and audio engineering! In addition to music and education, I am also fascinated by the world of film and drama and writing. There are so many parallels in the arts, and insights gained from one discipline can often be relevant in other disciplines as well. Earlier this year I listened to a series of podcasts by Act One on Storytelling in the 21st Century. It was incredibly thought-provoking on many counts, and I love pondering how we in the arts community can have a greater impact on our society.

The more we can learn and develop creative approaches in our studios, the better equipped our students will be to make a lasting difference in our culture. In addition to acquiring musical skills, it’s also critically important for them to understand the underlying philosophies that drive the arts, and establish a right and true philosophy that will govern their own musical pursuits. This was largely the goal behind the Pursuit of Music camp that I held for some of my high school students this summer, and it’s something that I am always looking for opportunities to incorporate more into weekly lessons and group classes with students as well. It’s always great to find out about quality resources that can be used to supplement and enhance a well-rounded music education!

MTNA Offers $500 Scholarship to a Teacher Pursuing RMM

MTNA recently sent an e-mail announcing a $500 scholarship to teachers interested in pursuing RMM (Recreational Music Making). If  you’re thinking about attending the MTNA Conference in Anaheim, CA next March, this would be a great opportunity to receive funding to help cover those costs!

Here’s the content of the e-mail for those who are interested:

Thanks in part to a generous grant from the NAMM Foundation, the National Piano Foundation is offering a limited number of scholarships up to $500 to MTNA-member piano teachers who are interested in and committed to learning more about Recreational Music Making (RMM), and developing an RMM program for their studio and/or their community. These scholarships are to be used for travel, lodging, membership and registration fees and other costs associated with attending MTNA’s 2013 Pedagogy Saturday event.

The RMM Teaching track at Pedagogy Saturday 2013 is an excellent opportunity for piano teachers to learn about RMM teaching, with a variety of topics and presenters. It will be held at the 2013 MTNA National Conference, at the Disneyland® Hotel in Anaheim, California, March 9.

To be considered for a scholarship, applicants:

  • Must have a minimum of two years piano teaching experience (group teaching experience preferred)
  • Must be age 21 or older
  • Must be a member of MTNA (a portion of the scholarship may be directed toward MTNA dues)
  • Must demonstrate a commitment to developing an RMM program for their independent studio or their community (in partnership with a local piano retailer, music school, senior center, or other appropriate venues.)

Scholarship applicants must submit a short application form, a resume of their teaching experience and a 500-word essay on why they want to pursue RMM teacher training and how they plan to implement a program in their local community.

The application deadline is December 31, 2012. For more information and applications, click here. You can find the application under “Quick Links” in the bottom right corner.

Giveaway of Reel Ear

**A guest post by Reel Ear**

Reel Ear gives you complete control over your ear training.

Most ear training software doesn’t do exactly what you want it to do. With Reel Ear, however, users control every conceivable musical variable. Reel Ear generates random melodies or chord progressions based on user defined variables. Because the phrases are random, users can not anticipate or memorize them and because they are based on the user’s own variables, the ear training focuses on exactly what  the musician wants.
Give away instructions:

To celebrate the launching of the new version of Reel Ear, we are giving away FREE copies to visitors (a $12.95 value) from right now until December 3rd, 2012at 12:00am.Here’s how you get your free copy:

1. Download the trial version of Reel Ear at The trial version is fully functional for 10 days. (Sorry Mac and Linux users, for the moment Reel Ear is Windows only)

2. Try out the software for a few days.

3. If you want a free license to unlock the trial version, download the your_computer_license_number.exe mini-program at

3. Run the your_computer_license_number.exe application.

Hint: All this little program does is read the hardware identification information unique to every computer and copies it automatically to your computer’s clipboard. We use this information to generate your personal, permanent license to unlock Reel Ear. We DO NOT have access to any other personal information on your computer!

4. Paste the number from your computer’s clipboard into an email and send it to us in an email. Please write “” as the subject of your email.

What’s next?

We will generate your personal key to unlock Reel Ear and send it to your email address as quickly as possible. I know it’s hard, but please be patient; it may take up to 48 hours to receive the key.

Want more information?

You can learn more about Reel Ear, find some helpful screen casts and check out our FAQ’s on our web site at

Remember, to receive your free individual license to unlock Reel Ear forever, we need to hear back from you with your computer ID number by December 3, 2012!

Happy ear training!

Monday Mailbag – When to Start Teaching Scales

When do you start teaching scales? I have been using the “Piano Adventures” method books and really like them, but they don’t teach scales or time signatures until four books in, and I am debating about teaching younger students scales before they encounter them in their music. How soon do you start introducing scales and key signatures?

Actually, I teach my students their first scale before we even begin lessons. They learn it when I do their initial interview/assessment. Really. They learn the pentatonic scale by way of participating in a black key improvisation with me. The only catch is that I don’t call it that; I just tell them that they can play any black keys on their end of the piano while I play black keys on my end. The reality is that students are learning scales and keys from the moment they learn their very first piece on the piano. They, of course, don’t understand the underlying theory yet, but we as teachers must be aware of this reality so that we can lead students to a real and relevant knowledge of what scales and keys are in the first place.

Anyone who has been reading here very long knows that I rarely use theory books. This is because I want students to understand theory concepts as being integral and irremovable from the music they are playing – whether improvised, by ear, or from a printed sheet. I would much rather have them transpose a simple rote piece to other keys on the piano, or figure out the notes of a particular scale by picking out a favorite tune by ear and then add harmony, or improvise on a given set of notes to develop an aural awareness of the way a key sounds, rather than merely play ascending and descending scales with a metronome. However, despite the fact that I would rather do this doesn’t mean that that is what I do.

I was largely inspired in this new way of thinking by the Pattern Play improvisation teaching intensive that I attended this summer. Even though I’ve moved away from teaching scales as consistently as before, I do still believe that there is a great deal of value for students in knowing what a scale is, how to construct it, and what fingering to use for maximum fluency. Now that I’ve spent three paragraphs not answering your question, I suppose it’s sufficiently clear that I am in a transitional mode in my philosophy and approach to teaching scales and keys. 🙂 That said, here are 7 goals that I work toward with every student regarding scales and keys (roughly in sequential order):

  1. Understand whole steps and half steps.
  2. Understand that every type of scale is constructed of a series of half and or whole steps in a particular order.
  3. Know how to construct Major and minor pentascales and Major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales.
  4. Understand relative Major and minor keys.
  5. Know how to play the primary and secondary triads in every key.
  6. Be able to identify what key a piece is in based on the key signature and context.
  7. Be able to play multi-octave scales with accurate fingering and musicality.

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

Thirty Thanksgiving Blessings

In the November/December 2012 issue of Clavier Companion, Susan Geffen wrote a very kind review of Music Matters Blog. Since the magazine recently launched a blog (if you haven’t already, you should definitely add it to your blog reading list!), they asked if I would contribute a guest post. As I pondered what to write, I was inspired to compile a list of blessings as an independent music teacher; thus was borne the post: Thirty Thanksgiving Blessings. I wish each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope that you will be blessed and encouraged by this post!

In the daily grind of teaching, planning recitals, selecting repertoire, dealing with communication, figuring out policies, and more, it’s helpful to take a step back and remember all the tremendous blessings we experience as independent music teachers. It didn’t take long to come up with a collection of thirty things I’m thankful I get to do as an independent music teacher. I hope you find renewed enthusiasm in your calling as a teacher as you read this list – and perhaps you will want to create your own, as well!

>>>Click here to read the rest of the post>>>

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

The studio is closed for Thanksgiving this week, so I’ll be taking the week off of blogging as well. Hope you all have a wonderful time of celebration and rest with your families. Here’s a video of one of my favorite songs that reminds me to have an attitude of thankfulness for the many blessings God has given me: Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman

More About Apps at 88 Piano Keys

I recently came across another blog (with a super cool header graphic!) that has lots of info about apps: 88 Piano Keys. Even though I have an iPod Touch that I use all the time in my teaching, I’ve been pondering the possibility of getting an iPad at some point, too. Is there anyone out there who has both an iPod Touch/iPhone and iPad that they use for teaching? Are there any advantages to having an iPad specifically? Any things you really love about the iPad that can’t be done on an iPod Touch/iPhone?