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

Posts tagged ‘piano’

Summer Activity at Miss Nancy Piano Studio


Bell ringer rehearsal at the National Cathedral

Summer has been a whirlwind of activity for Miss Nancy. In June I had the privilege of attending a rehearsal for bell ringers in the tower at the National Cathedral. Beth Sinclair, their coordinator, gave me the grand tour of the tower, including climbing the steep spiral stairs to watch members unmute the bells after rehearsal so that their ringing could be heard throughout the DC area. Members also explained the art of change ringing, an exciting mathematical group of exercises for bells used especially in England for centuries. I hope to introduce this technique of bell ringing to my handbell group at Friends Church, Friendswood.

Speaking of bell ringing, Victoria Katei, piano and organ student, has joined our bell group and is also interning as an organist for church service. Preparing for university next year, Victoria will be able to earn volunteer hours this way before high school graduation.

Summer piano lessons continue until the first day of school, August 24. Please contact me to arrange some relaxed vacation lessons, and prepare for the new school year! Also, send me some summer photos, especially involving musical activities, so I can post them on this blog!


Long Distance Learning Oh La La and Gold Cup Festival

IMG_0539Hi, Everyone!

Miss Nancy began long distance teaching in February introducing preschoolers to the joy of music via FaceTime. At the daycare center, Little Blessings, I was able to teach old folk tunes, like London Bridge is Falling Down and newer ones, like The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round. French tunes and language are also an important part of Music Monday. The children, ranging from ages or 2 years to 4 years, enjoyed singing the French puppet song, Ainsi Font, Font, Font, and are learning to count in French. Merci, mes amis!

Gold Cup Festival is this Saturday. I hope you are all polishing up your beautiful pieces for the friendly judge!

Remember to

1. Play your required and choice pieces at home before you leave for the festival!

2. Bring your music with you.

3. Adjust your piano bench so you are comfortable.

4. Try out a few notes on the piano in the judging room.

5. Get into your starting position before beginning your performance.

6. Take your time, and hold those nice fermata notes at the end of your piece!

7. Wear comfortable, performance quality clothing.

8. Have fun!

See you there!

Gold Cup Trophy

Preparing for Gold Cup Festival

SCN_0001Happy February, Students and Parents!

It may be chilly outside, but I know you are all breaking into a sweat practicing for Gold Cup Festival, March 7! Right?

By this time, all students are working on their required and choice pieces.  For some of you, this is your first Gold Cup Festival. As described in my book, Miss Nancy’s Piano Lessons, Gold Cup Festival not only provides an opportunity for students to play well learned pieces for a friendly judge but also rewards them with certificates and trophies. Please contact me if you need a copy of my book for further description.

The Gulf Coast Music Teachers have a website for more information on Gold Cup and other Festivals:      gulfcoastmusicteachers.org

On this site, you can scroll down to Parent Letter and Directions to the event at San Jacinto Community College.

More news! This year I have added the Piano Pronto books to student repertoire. This is a new line of teaching books that has been acclaimed internationally. Jennifer Eklund, composer and publisher is in contact 24/7 with the public on her website, pianopronto.com where you can see how easy it is to review her music and hear audio samples.

I hope you all are having a bowl of warm soup and enjoying winter fun!


A Very Musical Autumn

IMG_0358Hi, Students and Parents!

Our piano year has begun with great activity on the musical front. First, Victoria Katei, piano and organ student, pictured in center top, performed hymns and the offertory for church service at Friendswoods Friends Church in September. This was not Victoria’s first time as guest organist, however. In the past, she has accompanied congregational singing at Village-on-the-Park, Friendswood. Kudos, Victoria!

On October 15, I attended the teacher workshop given by Stephen Beus, award winning international pianist. Mr. Beus explained the usage of ornamentation in a few of Bach’s works, such as the Gigue BWV 997, as an opener for the three hour session. He then elaborated on Franz Liszt, his life and works. How fascinating to learn that certain keys for Lizst and many other composers are associated with religion, love, water, Heaven, and the Divine! For instance, Liebestraum in A-Flat Major is associated with Love and Water. On October 17, Mr. Beus played a brilliant concert for Gulf Coast Music Teachers Association, students and guests at the Clear Lake Presbyterian Church.


Stephen Beus

Holidays are on the way! Students are now preparing for the Holiday Recital to be held at Brookdale Senior Living Facility, 1310 Friendswood Dr., Friendswood, Texas, 77546, on Sunday, December 7, 2:30 pm. Please mark the date on your calendars.

Got performance jitters? The latest dietary solution is to eat a banana before you perform.

Have any other ideas? Please comment on this blog to let other interested piano students know your news of school, performance opportunities, and the pieces you enjoy playing most.

Practice Strategy


Ignace Paderewski

There’s a story about Paderewski who said, ” If I don’t practice for one day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, my friends know it. If I don’t practice for three days, EVERYBODY knows it…

Even the great composers and pianists needed to practice. That is our key word this year.

Here are simple steps to help you practice:

1. Decide on a time each day that you will practice your assignment. Each day you may need to practice at a different time.  Then carry out your plan!

2. Make sure your practice area is without distractions, like visits from pets and friends, for at least 20 minutes or more.

3. Begin with your finger exercise warm-ups, and play until they are smooth. Use Finger Power or Hanon and scales.

4. Play a piece that you know well.

5. Now begin with your new pieces. Practice the difficult measures first. Repeat each trouble spot until you can play it perfectly 3 times.

6. Make sure you count aloud a few times for each piece and observe the dynamics, like f, mf, rit.,  etc.

7. If pedal is required, is it clear or muddy ?

By this time 30 minutes is up, and you have followed your plan.  Didn’t that time go by quickly? 

Please comment here on our blog about your practice sessions!

Last Minute Jitters?

jumping jacksHow many of us get jittery before our performance?  Almost all of us!  But there is a way to ease our stage fright.

This year, I attended a workshop given by Vicki Conway, who teaches “DevelopMental” Fitness.  As we await our turn to perform, she says, adrenalin is rushing through our bodies, causing us to experience the fight or flight syndrome. The way to calm down is to do Integration WarmUp back stage. By doing   8 – 12 sets of jumping  jacks among other exercises, with hands and feet always starting and stopping together, we can help redistribute the adrenalin and calm our bodies. Try to drink a glass of water before and after the work-out. Now we are ready for our performance!

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.


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