Tag Archives: Piano Pedagogy

Piano Camp 2017 with Marvin Blickenstaff

UPDATE: Due to the terrible hurricane and flooding in South Texas, Elizabeth Gutierrez, the director of Piano Camp for Piano Teachers, has extended the sale price to Sept. 4 and also included a way to help teachers in the South Texas area. Teachers have lost their music, their pianos, and who knows when they will be able to teach again.

A Message From Elizabeth:

“It is with such a heavy heart that I write all of you involved with Piano Camp for Piano Teachers or the Piano Teacher Academy. No doubt you have all seen the ongoing loss and devastation occurring in Houston/TX coastal areas with the catastrophic flood. And now, areas east of Austin are affected by river flooding. A few members of my family plus numerous friends and teaching colleagues are trapped in their homes or shelters either having lost everything or in some peril of losing their homes, belongings, livelihoods, etc. I want to do more than send personal donations. I want to try to contribute more substantially, especially to my TexasMTA colleagues who will need help in rebuilding their lives.

Tuesday, August 29 through Monday, Sept. 4 (midnight Central time), 10% of all net course sales at pianoteacheracademy.com will go to the MTNA Benevolence Fund.” 

Piano Camp 2017

Marvin Blickenstaff is one of the foremost experts in piano pedagogy today. He is such a gifted teacher and speaker, and he inspires others to greater heights in our own teaching. And he is always ready to share his knowledge with other teachers. Unfortunately only a small percentage of piano teachers have the opportunity to study with him or to attend one of his presentations.

He teaches in the most positive, encouraging, beautiful way. He tells a story, shares the history, paints a picture, evokes a feeling… so that by the time the student plays the piece again, it is utterly transformed. And so are we, the listeners. Marvin Blickenstaff is Magical. -Amy Barker, College Station, Tx. 

This year at Piano Camp in San Antonio, a small group of teachers was blessed with his presence. Many teachers want to hear inspiring teachers like Marvin, but do not have the opportunity.  This year the sessions were recorded, so it is as if we can all be there to learn and grow. Teachers from all over the world can experience what it is like to listen to one of our greatest living piano teaching experts. If you are ready to learn from a living legend, consider this course. Here is what a piano teacher said about Marvin Blickenstaff:

Read more on the Piano Camp Page.

This course is on sale until midnight, August. 31, 2017. Sept. 4, 2017. The investment for the Camp’s four sessions is only $127 (you can divide the payments up) and you will receive LIFETIME ACCESS to these sessions and the handouts.

Topics in the Course

Warm-Ups? Who, Me? Technical Routines for All Ages – by Marvin Blickenstaff (90 minutes)

Performance Practice Made Easy: Rules of Thumb for the Student – by Marvin Blickenstaff (82 minutes)

The End is in the Beginning: Coaching a Piece to Performance – by Marvin Blickenstaff (65 minutes)

A Simple Step-by-Step Start to Major Scales, All Without a Book – by Elizabeth Gutierrez (47 minutes)

Video Preview

Scroll down at this link to watch a special preview of Marvin reflecting on his collboration with educational composer, Lynn Freeman Olson. (10 minutes)

VIP Bundle On Sale!

In addition to the 2017 Piano Camp being on sale, for a short time you can also buy this course bundled with Sorting Out the Piano Classics, a very comprehensive course by Elizabeth Gutierrez who teaches how and when to teach piano classics. You can get both courses at an excellent sales price until midnight, August 31. Sept. 4, 2017 Split payments are available.

Hurry! The sale price is good only until August 31, Sept. 4, midnight. 

Get Both Courses On Sale

Marvin Blickenstaff is known among piano teachers throughout the country for his teaching, lecturing, performing, and publishing. Currently he maintains a private studio in the Philadelphia area and teaches at The New School for Music Study in Princeton. In 2007 he was named Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He was honored in 2009 with MTNA’s highest award, the MTNA Achievement Award, and was selected in 2013 by the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy for its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Elizabeth Gutierrez has years of experience teaching piano, piano pedagogy, and piano literature to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has given numerous workshops and master classes to teachers around the globe and also as a national clinician for Faber Piano Adventures. For her workshops and online courses, she draws on her extensive background as an independent teacher, professor, performer, and composer/editor/author.







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Sorting Out the Piano Classics


I’m proud to announce I am an affiliate for the Piano Teachers Academy. If you have ever wished you could attend Elizabeth Gutierrez’s workshops but lived too far away, now is your chance to attend online in the comfort of your home. I would like to invite you to attend her online course: “Sorting Out the Piano Classics.”

Elizabeth is my friend, but more than that, she has been a mentor to me as a piano teacher for years. She is the piano teacher’s piano teacher. Not only has she taught piano pedagogy at the college level and given many workshops, she also teaches private piano students. Elizabeth knows how to explain things and she knows what works. She has a knack for giving practical advice that you can easily carry over to your lessons.

This workshop is for piano teachers who want a guide through teaching the classics. So many times I would like to give a classical piece to students but I’m not sure if they are ready for it. There are books but they only give a list, not a discussion on how to teach the music. There is great music out there that students throughout the ages have enjoyed and we owe it to our students to expose this music to them. I polled my students and over half of them said they wanted to play classical music. Students often go through stages with what they like, and when the time is right, we need to be there for them.

I was fortunate that my piano teacher introduced me to classical music early. I fell in love with it. My teacher even called up my mother to tell her I was “special” because I appreciated good music. Well, I don’t think I was special. I enjoyed all kinds of music, and good music is good music. One minute I was playing Bach and the next I was playing pop music with lead sheets. But there was something special about the sound of the classics and how the notes fit under the hands that I enjoyed. But if my teacher had not introduced me to classical music at an early age, I don’t know if I would have majored in music.

Elizabeth’s course has over seven hours of video that will guide you through teaching classics at all levels. There are demonstrations on how to teach the most common classical pieces as well as some lesser known music. She will give you tips that you can use right away with your students. The course includes handouts to match pieces with the method books students are in, as well as other helpful handouts.

When I signed up for the course, Elizabeth told me teachers will have lifetime access to the videos and the hand outs. That means I can go back and watch it again if I need a review or lose a handout.

Right now the course is offered at the introductory price of $120.00 until October 1, so don’t wait to check it out!

Here is how to view a free sample class.

  • Click my link here.
  • When that opens, click on the image.
  • Scroll down to “Class Curriculum.” Click the small down arrow under the 3 modules (before the FAQ).
  • This will open the entire curriculum. Scroll down to “The Black Hole: What to do at the Intermediate Level.
  • The third chapter is free. Click the “Preview” button.

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The Berry Basket: The Story of a Rescued Piano Book


One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can sit at my computer and ramble on about anything. Today, I’m going to tell you about a little out-of-print piano book I found on the internet.

I’m not sure what sent me to a site on Etsy that sold vintage ephemera, which is a fancy word for old printed collectables.  Somehow I found myself looking through a selection of used vintage piano books the shop was selling to cut up and use for crafts. How sad, I thought, that these old books, once lovingly handed to young children and toted back and forth to piano lessons with the hope that the children would fall in love with piano, are now reduced to being cut up for who knows what.

As I was looking and reminiscing, I came upon a 1953 piano book that looked so charming I had to take a close up look. It was named The Berry Basket, and it had the cutest vintage art on the cover. The seller had some pictures of the inside art (with no mention of the music), and I knew I had to get it.  The price was only $3.00 so I clicked the buy button. In a few days, there it was in the mail, saved from destruction and in the hands of someone who could appreciate it!

The book is written for beginners, and the first pieces are only 8 measures long, with sweet, vintage drawings on every page. Each little piece has simple, child-like lyrics.

I was happy to discover the music is in different 5-finger positions and keys. There are no C position pieces in the entire book!  The lyrics are very simple and childlike, back when young children were more innocent and didn’t know the questionable lyrics of today’s popular music.

Since this is a previously used book, there are markings from the teacher.

“Work out notes H.S. Don’t Guess.”  



Some things never change in piano!

According to the preface, the music and words were written by the Sisters of the Holy Cross attending a music workshop in Salt Lake City, conducted by Bernice Frost, a well-known composer of piano teaching music last century.

I wonder what Bernice Frost said in her workshop that inspired the Sisters of the Holy Cross to compose this music? The preface says the book offers, “… development in the basic requirements of elementary musical training. Foremost among these are ear-training, singing, keyboard range and feel, essential points of technic, and pianistic style.”  Maybe Bernice Frost gave them ideas of all the many things that can be done at a piano lesson besides just playing the music. I like to think so.

Maybe the child who used this book is now a piano teacher in his or her golden years, with hundreds of former students who love piano music! I like to think that, too!

The Berry Basket Published by J. Fischer Bros

The Berry Basket
Published by J. Fischer Bros



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Piano Play-Along With Elizabeth Gutierrez


Piano Play-Along

There is a wonderful new resource that Elizabeth Gutierrez has put on her blog, freely available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

It is a Piano Play-Along on her website Piano Camp for Piano Teachers. This wonderful resource will help us be better teachers by virtually working together on the same music.  If you have heard of an internet “sew-along”or “quilt-along,” well, this is the same thing, but for pianists. There are videos of children demonstrating on the piano, and lots of explanations and helpful hints to help your students play with artistry. I am very impressed at how well-done it is. It is like a high quality piano pedagogy class!

The music we are going to work on is Kabalevsky’s 24 Pieces for Children Op. 39. This is a collection of quality short pieces at the late elementary to early immediate level.

Now don’t dismiss this because you don’t like contemporary music or you think you don’t like Kabalevsky! Students love to play his music and can relate to it. I think every composer who writes for children at will say that Kabalevsky is an influence. And even if you don’t plan to give your students his music in the future, learning the secrets to playing it well will help with everything else your students play.

How many times have I heard students play the notes and steady beat correctly, and even some p’s and f’s, but the piece just isn’t there yet. It’s not polished; it’s not what the composer wants. But the teacher is not sure how to get the student to take it to the next level.

I always tell my students that learning classical music correctly is like what good jazz dancers do. The ones who study classical ballet are such better jazz dancers. They have more finesse and are technically better than the students who only study jazz and tap. The same is true of learning classical music.  Not only that, but Kabalevsky’s music makes sense and it is easy to understand. Every little piece teaches something, but it is still fun to play because of the way the music fits under the hands.

Because of copyright restrictions we don’t see too much of Kabalevsky in our method books, so this is a great way to learn about this wonderful master composer. You can take the ideas and apply them to your recital pieces or your method book music.

Even though I am really busy now, I went to my local music store and picked up a copy of the book and I’m going to be playing along. The fact that it is being offered as a free resource is just an amazing opportunity for teachers and even amateurs who want to learn more about how to play with artistry. On top of that, Hal Leonard has generously donated a prize that will go to some lucky participant.

If you want to get your students excited about Kabalevsky’s  music, go to YouTube and let them listen to Kabalevsky’s Gallop, such as this version. It’s short and fast, you can move and dance around to it, and it is something that no child can resist.

Elizabeth is truly a teacher’s teacher, and all you need to participate is the music and a piano! For a while this summer, let’s forget about policy sheets, tuition, how to get kids to practice, and just focus on playing the piano.

[Disclaimer: this review is my personal opinion and I was not compensated or solicited in any way. I am posting it because it is an excellent resource for pianists.]


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