Miss Nancy's Piano Adventures- a fun, interactive way to keep kids & adults current in basic piano.

Archive for the ‘Parents and Teachers’ Category

All Smiles

Hi, Everybody!

Miss Nancy recently returned from the National Federation of Music Clubs Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a pleasure to meet Susan Hong and attend her workshop with Dr. Ouida Keck on Teaching Music To Students with Special Needs. What fun to meet so many piano teachers and music lovers! Dress for the conference included musical motif hats, vests, skirts, bow ties, and shirts.

In March, Miss Nancy Piano Students participated in the Solo, Hymn, and Theory categories at Gold Cup Festival at San Jacinto College, Pasadena.  They met the challenge as you can see in the awards photo taken at the April Recital!

Gold Cup Festival is sponsored annually by the National Federation of Music Clubs, coordinated with our local chapter of Gulf Coast Music Association. Students are given the opportunity to perform privately for a judge and receive a helpful critique on their performance. After earning 15 points, the student receives a Gold Cup trophy. See Christopher in the photo? He has had a successful performance and is very happy!


How fitting it was to start the April Recital this year with Quinn singing the Star Spangled Banner and sister Bristol as accompanist! Go girls! Best wishes and a fond farewell to our organ-piano student Victoria who will attend South Methodist University college in August. Victoria has been an intern organist and bell ringer at Friends Church, Friendswood, Texas. Miss Nancy presented Victoria with a trophy and an SMU tee shirt at the recital. You will be missed Victoria!


Miss Nancy students also performed in their school for talent days. Friends Pallavi and Fiona played an energetic Eine Kleine Nachtmusik duet for their school. How special to have a friend who can practice and play duets with you!

Kudos to Jacob who is now accompanying his church choir and playing heavenly interludes for Mary Queen Church, Friendswood, TX!

Something new in Miss Nancy summer lessons this year is distance learning, an innovative way to take a lesson, especially if you need a make-up lesson during the week. Congratulations to Pallavi for being the first student to take a lesson via FaceTime with Miss Nancy!

Enjoy your summer vacation, everyone, and stay tuned for Fall piano information and schedule!


Holiday Recital at Brookdale, Assisted Living, Friendswood, Texas ❄️⛄️❄️


🎄🎶Oh what fun it was playing holiday music, including Christmas carols and the Dreidel Song, for the residents at Brookdale on December 7. Guest flutist, Donna Jerz, and I started the program with 2 movements from Suite Modale. Then, sleigh bells ringing, flute and piano led the group in singing Jingle Bells. Piano students continued the program by playing their favorite carols and songs from their repertoires. Kudos to our two Jazz Festival winners, Kyndsey Jones and Ereka Jayasekara, who received trophies. All students received their recital award composer statuettes. A Brookdale resident was the lucky winner of the beautiful pointsettia door prize.

Festive refreshments were were served after the program as we socialized with parents and residents to wrap up holiday cheer for all. 🎶

The New Year is just around the corner. Now is a good time to practice up and get ready for Gold Cup Festival on Saturday, March 7, 2015, at San Jacinto College, Pasadena, Texas.

May I recommend a very effective and challenging app to improve your sight reading skills? Flash Note Derby, of course!

A very Musical Happy New Year to all!

Jazz Festival 2014 Trophy Winners and Much More!


Hi, Parents and Piano Students!

It has been a good month for two piano students, Kyndsey and Ereka, who won trophies at the Jazz Festival 2014, at Heritage Baptist Church, Webster, TX. Kyndsey played Jennifer Ekland’s Someday, and Ereka played Linus and Lucy, by Vince Guaraldi. Kudos girls!

More news! My book, Miss Nancy ‘s Piano Lessons, Stories of a Traveling Piano Teacher, is now available on Amazon.com just in time for the holidays. A new shipment of copies is ready for orders.

And now it’s your turn to perform! On Sunday, December 7, 2:30 pm, at Brookdale Senior Living Community, 1310 Friendswood Drive, Friendswood, TX, 77546, we will have our Holiday Recital, featuring piano students playing solos, ensembles, combined with performances by other instrumentalists. There will be a special performance by Clear Lake Symphony flutist Donna Jerz performing Suite Mondale, an Ernest Bloch flute-piano duet, with me. Please bring a dozen Christmas cookies to share with the students and audience. Beverages will be provided.

Remember to send me your comments on this blog. Your input is always appreciated! See you December 7th!


Kyndsey wins a trophy.

photo 2

Ereka earns a trophy.

Get Ready For Gold Cup Festival!

Video of Piano Student playing at Gold Cup FestivalHi, Students and Parents!

Here are a few steps for getting ready for Gold Cup Festival, March 2, 2013.

1. Decide on a practice time for each day. Why not get up early and practice before school? This frees you up for the rest of the day. Remember to practice on weekends, when you have free time.
2. Adjust your seat so you are sitting straight and comfortably, fingers curved at all times! Arms level with the keyboard.
3. Decide on the order of your performance. Do you want to start with the required or choice piece? Then practice in the same order every day.
4.Find your position and count a few measures to set your tempo or speed.
5. Play your piece with the score. Afterwards, play it by memory. Are your notes, your dynamics (loud, soft, crescendo, ritardando) all correct? Is your counting steady without hesitation?
6. If you are having trouble with a passage, check your fingering. It must be the same every time you play your piece.
7. Is your pedaling clear?
8. Is your phrasing clear?
9. Now invite your family and friends to come listen to your performance. Did they like your expression? Your clear chords? Your phrasing? Your special staccato touch? Your graceful ending?
10. Most of all, listen the beautiful music you are playing and enjoy!

Why Gold Cup?

Recently, the parents of three student recipients of Gold Cups, sponsored by the Gulf Coast Music Association, asked me about the benefits are of continuing to enter the Gold Cup Festivals. The answer is quite clear for those of us teachers who organize our yearly curriculum around the Federation Festivals Bulletin: Both teachers and students have a well defined goal and target date for which to prepare their pieces prescribed by the Federation.

Video of Piano Student playing at Gold Cup Festival

The Federation Bulletin has compiled a thorough program to follow for teachers. It lists each Piano Event, i.e. Piano Solo Event, Piano Ensemble Event, and specific levels, i.e. Primary Class Piano.  What are the parameters of the terms such as  Intermediate and Advanced? In the Bulletin they are listed as Medium and Difficult with sub levels of Moderately Difficult I, Moderately Difficult II, etc. This information is very helpful for teachers who don’t have the time or resources to sift through music at the music stores or online companies to determine the levels of difficulty. In addition, new repertoire ideas are provided throughout the Bulletin, whether they are piano solos, hymns, duets, or patriotic and folk songs

Students benefit from this well prepared Bulletin as well as teachers. There is no guess work whether they are advancing at the proper level. Within the sub levels there are even more levels. For instance, there are some Primary Class Piano pieces more difficult than others. The idea is to stylize the selection to fit the needs of the student. Students will then learn the piece with confidence because the level is adjusted to fit their specific abilities.

The Gold Cup Festival is important in another way. It nudges the student to be ready “judgement day,” when an accredited educator will evaluate their performance.  This is a real motivator,  not just for the student, but for the teacher and parents as well!

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome


Child Seated on Piano Bench

A new year has begun, and we piano teachers are always thrilled to acquire the young new students, eager, bright, and restless.

The average attention span for an adult is said to be 10 minutes. I would be happy if that were the case with all children. So in order to survive, I have adopted the United States Marine Corps saying, Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. I gave a 5 year old student, Molly, her first piano lesson recently. After watching lessons for the past few years with her sister, she expected a sticker immediately. “You must earn the sticker first,” I said,” by playing all the pairs of black keys on the piano and learning a little song.” My improvisation was recognizing her needs. In this case, bribery works. If she got restless, I reminded her of her sticker, so she continued on target for a few more minutes. When a teacher improvises, she is instantly adjusting and adapting her lesson plan to the needs of the individual psyche. For some students, a reward could be a new piece of sheet music. For others it is a cookie at the end of the lesson. And hopefully, you don’t have this motivator : “You only have 5 minutes left until the end of this lesson.” Don’t discount this one though. Once we become familiar with each student’s personality, we begin to understand her modus operandi. For instance, I always had a piece of candy ready at the end of each lesson for one student or else I was in trouble. One day I only had pretzels and she didn’t like them, so I had to rummage in my cabinet for some fruit rolls. I overcame the disruptions but only by recognizing the proper sweet reward. How does piano artistry and technique fit into this picture? Simple. If the student cannot keep still for more than 5 minutes, she cannot master the target teaching point planned for that particular lesson. Keeping them happy on the bench is the best way I know to achieve the lesson objective.


Visit Your Piano Every Day!

Welcome to another school year of piano lessons! As always, our goal this year is to advance to new levels of piano mastery. How can we achieve this goal? You guessed it: by practicing! Visit your piano every day, even if you cannot practice for your planned practice time of 1/2 hour to one hour. You will maintain your present playing level until you can do some serious practicing, at least 5 times per week.

Here is more info on good practice habits:


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