Monthly Archives: June 2011

Great piano teachers resource from Valery Lloyd Watts

Recording artist, teacher, and virtuoso performer Valery Lloyd-Watts along with her professional collaborator the late Carole L. Bigler are the editors of Mastering the Piano, a 7-Volume series of graded performance repertoire. I like this series because it has some of the most requested and best-loved classical repertoire, complete with CD recordings.  Editorial markings are limited to fingering and ornament realization. (They have also published a book on ornaments, Ornamentation, which has been quite helpful in my studio.) When I started using these books some time ago, CD’s were a rarity in piano literature collections. These CD’s, performed by Valery Lloyd-Watts are excellent, with beautiful harmonic coloring. I have happy memories of playing these CD’s as I drove my children’s car pool and wondering how Valery could make the piano sound like so many different instruments. Their many books are available from Alfred Publishing, a leader in excellent, yet affordable piano literature.

Valery Lloyd Watts has just developed a website with teaching and performance instructions for all the pieces in the series. On her website there is a link to a 365 page book called The Bigler~Lloyd-Watts Mastering the Piano Manual. Teachers are able to freely download this book.

I discovered that their on-line book is more than just a manual of pedagogy instructions.  Chapters include the Music Learning Cycle, Teaching Strategies, Technical Regime for Pianists, and the Business and Professional Aspects of Running a Studio. It is a downloadable piano pedagogy textbook!

The last section of the book is devoted to the teaching procedures of the Mastering the Piano series. 

In detailed steps, each piece is broken down into small practice segments with instructions on how to learn difficult passages, complete with hints for such practical things as fingering, pedaling, memorization, and articulation.

If you have ever wondered how to teach a certain classical piece, or how experienced master teachers and performers teach, now you can see for yourself. This is such a generous offering from this esteemed duo. It is an incredible resource for piano teachers and I highly urge you to read through the entire book. I would sincerely like to thank Valery Lloyd-Watts for making this freely available to piano teachers all over the world.


Filed under Pedagogy Book Reviews, Teaching Aids

Snow Cone Signs and Symbols – a vocabulary worksheet

Snow Cone Signs and Symbols

The is the latest printable in my Summer Treat worksheet series. I’ve posted ones for rhythm and note reading, and now it’s time to review music vocabulary and symbols.  I think my students have had a lot of fun wondering what I would come up with next. They know they will not find out what the next “treat” is until they finish the one they are working on.

A teacher emailed to ask me what program I use to make worksheets.  I draw all the art  by hand in Photoshop, a program that I have extensive experience in. The text for this one was  also written in Photoshop, using the Text Tool. Over the years I have drawn music brushes of various music symbols,  so I don’t need to use clip art. Photoshop is a difficult program, so I do not advise piano teachers to buy it just to make this kind of worksheet.

I am saving up to upgrade my programs, (the upgrade I need is is over $1000) so *thank you* so very much for your donations to  this website!  To all the teachers who are supporters of my website, I really can’t thank you enough!

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Filed under Music Vocabulary, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

Summer Treat Note Story

Summer Treats

When I was a young piano student, I loved  worksheets that told stories using notes. Today I am posting one I made with the “summer treat” theme that I have been drawing all summer.  I wrote a little rhyming verse to use. Well, it sort of rhymes!

These note stores are hard to make.  I made one in February with a Valentine theme and while it was fun to draw, it took forever.   This one  was  easier since I had some experience. That is what I always tell my students when they learn something new;  it is always easier the second time. I seem to relate everything I do to teaching piano! Do you do that?

I tried this worksheet out with my young students, and they liked it. Since they are young and earnest, they carefully figured out each note.  However, I talked to a really nice teacher who told me that when her students do  note stories they don’t read the notes, but just guess the words. I thought about that, so I am posting a 2nd  version without the text, just the notes. Now she can make 2 copies, and trick her students into reading the notes.  After they write in the note names, they can transfer it over to the original version and read the rhyme.

Summer Treats_NotesOnly

To save some space on my website, this 2nd version is only available here. You can laminate the sheets or put them in sheet protectors and use dry erase pens to save ink. Leave a comment if you think this experiment is helpful.


Filed under Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Note Identification

Orange Popsicles – to practice writing notes on a grand staff


Orange Popsicles

 This weekend I am attending the Texas Music Teacher’s Convention. We have a lot of teachers in Texas, so we have 3 days of workshops.

The convention is great. I have already attended 3 sessions with Randall Faber, and sessions with Jennifer Lin, Brenda Dillon, Richard Rejino, and some other great teachers. I picked up a lot of tips and  ideas which I hope to try out with my students. If you ever have the opportunity to attend workshops for piano teachers, please take advantage of them. I  always get excited about teaching and enthused to try out all the new ideas and music.  And it is so wonderful to get together with like-minded people, because the average person doesn’t understand what is involved with being a good piano teacher.

Today I got up really early to post this companion to Frozen Yogurt Rhythms in case you want to use both printables together. You can either make copies for their notebooks, or make one laminated copy to use in your studio.

This is a continuation of my summer treats theme.  I am an amateur computer artist, but it is a  fun hobby for me.  Art is very much like piano. The more time you spend on it, the better you get.  I don’t have a lot of natural art talent, but I keep working at it, just like a student has to do to be a good musician.


Filed under Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Note Identification, Texas State Theory Test, Theory