Julie Cleveland’s Students Performing at Shalin Liu Performance Center this Sunday

This Sunday, four of my students will be taking part in the annual North Shore Piano Teachers’ Guild Shalin Liu Piano Recitals. The Guild holds three recitals in one afternoon each spring at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, in which students of piano teachers from around the North Shore participate. Each recital is about 50 minutes long. Three of my students are performing in the 1:00 pm recital, and one in the 2:30 pm recital. Very very proud of how hard these students have worked for this performance. ūüôā

Here’s one of my students who participated in last year’s Shalin recitals:

North Shore Piano Teachers’ Guild Piano Recitals
Sunday, April 8, 3 recitals: 1, 2:30 and 4 pm
Shalin Liu Performance Center
Rockport, MA
Free and Open to the Public

Blog Post Share: 15 things to know to support your child learning to play the piano

This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read on the subject of how to help and support your child, written by another piano instructor, Elissa Milne, who lives in Australia. I agree with every one of these 15 things! ūüôā

Here are the absolute basics that you need to know to be able to support your family’s journey into profound musicianship.

15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano


How to Practice Anything (especially the piano)

This blog post by a fellow piano teacher is wonderful, I can say that her advice here is invaluable.¬†(Beta-tested it this summer.) ūüėČ

This is wonderful reading for not only parents, but for older students, too. And piano teachers!

Here is the link. You can also download it here as a PDF to print it out to read it again and again.

How to Practice Anything
by Regina Ngo

Regina Ngo
Regina’s Music Studio, S. Pasadena, CA
Website: http://rmslearning.me

The gifts we get from our students…

A few weeks¬†ago a young student currently in love with Tchaikovsky (yes!!), who was learning an arrangement of Theme from Piano Concerto No. 1¬†from one of her method books, told me she wanted more pieces¬†like this one (yes!!). I picked out an arrangement that I found of Tchaikovsky’s Theme from Romeo and Juliet, a personal favorite symphony of mine. It was all set to go for her lesson. While on my break, waiting for them to arrive, I thumbed through the book I’d found the Romeo and Juliet theme in, and came upon Theme from C Minor Concerto by Rachmaninoff and sightread through it, thinking this is lovely, I’ll play it for her, but she’ll want the Tchaikovsky one, I know.

Wrong! She practically raced to the piano to sightread through it, after I played only the first several measures. She loved it.

After the lesson I looked up orchestra versions on YouTube to send to her to listen to, and this one came up on the top of the list. I had not listened to this concerto in a very long time. Although I had errands to run, I decided to stop what I was doing and take the half hour to listen to this most gorgeous piece of music.

A gift.

A nickel for your thoughts

A few weeks ago¬†I told¬†one¬†of my young female students that she didn’t have to say “I’m sorry” every time¬†¬†she made a mistake in a piece, or had to start her song over. I told her that as a young girl and later as a young woman, she doesn’t¬†have to say “I’m sorry” for everything‚ÄĒI’d just recently read this op-ed article from the New York Times about women and apologizing so it was on my mind.

She smiled and said, jokingly, “Ok, I’m sorry!” and we went back to the lesson. I told her that at the next lesson, she had to give me a nickel for every time she said “I’m sorry.”

At her next lesson, while she was playing, she made a mistake, and out popped¬†“Sorry!” She promptly whirled around on the piano bench, reached into her shorts pocket, and took out a nickel and handed it to me! (I’d forgotten all about the nickel think‚ÄĒold age.) I laughed and put it on the table. She slipped out a couple more I’m sorry’s¬†and gave me two more nickels.

At our last lesson, mistakes and all, she didn’t apologize once! ūüôā


Piano Parents: “15 Things You Need to Know…

…About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano”

Here’s a wonderful¬†blog post by¬†Elissa Milne,¬†a fellow piano teacher whom I “met” in one of my online pro piano instructors’ groups‚ÄĒshe’s quite a teacher, and lives in New Zealand! So cool to now have input from teachers from around the world. ūüôā
She has a lot of other informative posts for parents, too, on her blog.


Adult Piano Students’ Soir√©e

Every few months my adult students and I gather together and have a Piano Soir√©e; we just had one last Friday night here in Gloucester. Here’s one of my adult students¬†playing Send in the Clowns, by Stephen Sondheim. Absolutely¬†beautiful. ūüôā

“Seymour: An Introduction”: Inspiring Documentary for Piano Teachers

I’m already inspired by his teaching, and I haven’t even had a chance to see the film yet, just the trailers (waiting for it to arrive closer to home here in Gloucester). I did go immediately to the library to¬†check¬†out one of his books,¬†With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music.¬†Also an inspiration.¬†(Don’t go to Amazon to buy it, they’re hawking the books for hundreds of dollars, you can buy it from his publisher¬†here.)

Ethan Hawke has made a documentary about Seymour Bernstein, a concert pianist who at the age of 50 gave up his concert career to focus on teaching. (See trailer below.)

When it came out I listened to an NPR podcast about the film. One of his students is playing very slowly a beautiful passage of music‚ÄĒI immediately recognized it, Brahms Intermezzo in A, Op. 118, No. 2‚ÄĒand Seymour instructs her: “Don’t let go of this E¬†until it’s time to play it […] and then it’ll sound perfect.” I went right to the piano and took out the piece, and played it‚ÄĒonly the melody, though‚ÄĒas he instructed. It was a revelation. And I had that Intermezzo in my head all day.

“‘The most important thing that music teachers can do for their pupils,’ says its octogenarian subject, ‘is to inspire and encourage an emotional response‚ÄĒnot just for music but, more importantly, for all aspects of life.'”

My wait is over, I just found out¬†it’s playing in Salem. I’ll be seeing it this weekend. ūüôā

Trailer from the documentary:


MG plays Mary Poppins medley for her school musical!

Martina is playing the Prelude to her show, Mary Poppins, at her school, which is today and tomorrow! I put together a medley for her to play, and she created this beautiful “cut and paste” score.

Below is the video of her playing it in her lesson. Way to go, Martina, break a leg! ūüôā

Martina’s cut-and-pasted score of her Mary Poppins medley.


Practice for the Elephants Contest Begins April 8!

The Practice for the Elephants Contest starts again next week and runs for 6 weeks through May 23rd.

For my students new to piano this year:

Students¬†practice and earn two cents for every minute practiced over the course of 6 weeks. At the end, we total up the funds we raise, and foster¬†orphaned elephants, that is, we will continue to support the elephants we began to foster last year. If there are extra funds (it’s $50 a year for each elephant) we will foster another baby elephant. These elephants have been orphaned due to¬†the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory. The use of ivory for piano keys once contributed to the ivory trade. Of course, ivory is no longer used; polymers and mixtures of plastics are used instead for the key tops.

Printed handouts on the contest, as well as the practice sheets, are in the studio. Click here for the PDF with more details on contest, and and why we do it!

Here are our three adopted elephants, all doing well!, with updates:

Chemi Chemi: Keeper’s Diary update
Barsilinga: Keeper’s Diary update
Lominyek: There is no Keeper’s Diary update for Lominyek, as he is now, happily,¬†living in the wild with other elephants in¬†Tsavo¬†East National Park in Kenya. Because he is, we will be transferring our donation to another younger orphan who needs us!

Click here for more information about the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This wonderful contest was created by fellow piano instructor, Penny Lazarus.

Want to sponsor a student? If you’re not a part of the studio, click here. If you are, let me know in the lessons and I’ll pair you up with a young student!

Barsilinga and Lemoyian playing in the puddle.
Barsilinga and Lemoyian playing in the puddle.
Chemi Chemi (left) playing with a friend.
Chemi Chemi (left) playing with a friend.
Lominyek with his keepers.
Lominyek with his keepers.