June Newsletter

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Before we get into the full swing of summer, I just want to let you know a few important things about next year. First, I have updated my policies a bit (available at http://katespianostudio.ca/prospective-students/studio-policies/2012-2013-policies/). Important changes include:

  • Lesson prices are still the same ($20/half hour), but we are going with a regular monthly rate instead, to be paid at the beginning of the month – $76/month for Tues/Wed/Thurs and $70/month for Mondays (because they miss 3 lessons in the year due to holidays). I may change my start date to Sept. 10 instead of Sept. 4, in which case Tues/Wed/Thu lessons will then be $74/month.
  • I am no longer buying books and selling them back to my students. Instead, I will give students/parents the name (and often a picture) of the books they are to purchase, and they can purchase them wherever they wish (e.g. Long & McQuade, amazon.com or amazon.ca, etc.).

I am expecting a greater number of students in the 2012-2013 year, and as a result, I have created a schedule at http://katespianostudio.ca/prospective-students/availability/ (it’s at the bottom) with my availability for the Fall. If you are planning on returning in the Fall, please fill out the lesson time request form (http://katespianostudio.ca/lesson-time-request-form/) as soon as you can. I will be using each student’s availability to create a schedule, and in the event of any time conflicts, the first student to submit a request will receive his/her time. I would like to receive all requests by August 31 so that I can get everything organized!

I will be emailing everyone mid August to remind them of lessons starting in September and see who is returning for the upcoming year. Thanks for a great year, and I hope you have a great summer!

May Newsletter

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Upcoming Dates

June 1 – Final Piano Recital at 7:00 pm at the McKillop United Church (2329 15 Avenue South). Please see below for details.

June 2 – Adult student gathering at 10:30 am at Betty Jo Radley’s studio (810 Kodiak Bay North). Anyone over 18 is encouraged to join other adult students for a morning of music sharing – and if you don’t want to play, just come to listen!

June 2 – Exam repertoire recital at 11:30 am at Betty Jo Radley’s studio (810 Kodiak Bay North). Not just for students preparing for an exam, but it’s another opportunity to get used to performing.

Final Piano Recital

As mentioned above under “Upcoming Dates”, my final recital is going to be on Friday, June 1 at 7:00 pm at the McKillop United Church. I am joining forces with another piano teacher who also has a small studio (Lorrie Wittke). It’s a great opportunity to perform, and students need not be perfect in order to perform!

If your student is planning on performing:

  • Choose a piece that he or she likes to play and can play with confidence (it does not need to be memorized).
  • Please let me know by the evening of Monday, May 28 if your student is planning on performing so we can get the information on the program.

Sight Reading Practise

I mentioned previously that I have a page on my website for Music Technology. I want to highlight some websites that will help students build sight reading skills.

Jayde Musica Theory Game may be my favourite sight reading game so far. It moves a bit faster than Grand Staff Defender (so choose one that suits your starting needs) and it also gives you notes in a sequence – so you have to get all two/three/etc. correct before you can move on. It leads you to a higher level more quickly too, so if you’re a bit faster at this, you’re not slowed down. You can select EASY, MEDIUM, or HARD levels, you can extend the range of the staff to make it more difficult, and you can choose only TREBLE or BASS clef (or both). (Don’t do alto or tenor clef unless you know what they are!) A very versatile game!

Grand Staff Defender  is a lot like Jayde Musica, except that you start out really slow (great for beginners) and it takes you a while to get to the higher levels if you are really good at it. There are fewer options to customize your practise than Jayde Musica, but that could be beneficial if you just want to get started!

John Mayer – Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

This will show you all the parts you’ll need to play the song. But you’ll have to repeat. The outline of the song is as follows:

Verse 1
Verse 2
Guitar solo
Bridge (go cry about it)
Musical interlude (same as Introduction)




Guitar Solo:

Bridge and outro:

April Newsletter

Friday, April 20th, 2012


Kate’s Piano Studio Newsletter – April 2012

Email: kate@katespianostudio.ca Phone: 403-894-8557
214 Keystone Lane West, Lethbridge, AB T1J 2R2

Upcoming Dates

April 6-13 – No Lessons (available if desired) (http://katespianostudio.ca/calendar/)
April 21 – Group class at 1:30 pm at Betty Jo Radley’s studio (810 Kodiak Bay North). All students are encouraged to participate in this group class, as it is a low-stress opportunity for you to perform in front of a small group of other piano students! NO COST.
May 12 – LRMTA recital at 2:30 pm in the University Recital Hall W-570. Play on a grand piano in a real recital hall!
May 22-25 – Piano Class Festival – This is a smaller festival than Kiwanis, and it’s only for piano students. It’s a great opportunity to enter a small festival, and we have a wonderful adjudicator (Jesse Plessis). $10/entry, April 15 deadline.
June 2 – Adult student gathering at 10:30 am at Betty Jo Radley’s studio (810 Kodiak Bay North). Anyone over 18 is encouraged to join other adult students – you can even just listen the first time!
June 2 – Exam repertoire recital at 11:30 am at Betty Jo Radley’s studio (810 Kodiak Bay North). Not just for students preparing for an exam, but it’s another opportunity to get used to performing.

Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association

First, I want to let everyone know that I am now a member of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association, so I am officially an RMT. The ARMTA website (http://www.armta.ca/) states that “The designation RMT (Registered Music Teacher) is an assurance to the public that the teacher has met specified educational standards. Our members all hold degrees/diplomas from universities, colleges, and/or music conservatories”, so I am proud to be a member!

Music Technology

I have created a new page on my website for Music Technology (http://katespianostudio.ca/technology-for-learning/). There are a lot of great apps, websites, games, etc. out there, but I want to highlight this iPod app in particular!
Sight Read Music Quiz for Piano Lite (FREE)
This app is great practise for sight reading. You see a note on a staff and you press the correct piano key. It only has one octave of keys, but you can’t expect much on a tiny iPod screen!

Sight Read Music Quiz for Piano ($1.99)
You can get the full version for $1.99 and it will keep track of your progress and the notes you are struggling with! This app is great for beginners and more advanced students who need a little more sight reading practise.

Death Cab for Cutie – The Ice Is Getting Thinner tutorial

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Here’s the introduction and verse.

This is the bridge and instrumental solo:

Partial Transcript (to be completed)

Starting with the instrumental part. In the recording that I have, it sounds like they play something more like this: [fifth arpeggios]. And I want to play like [broken chords] because we just played stuff that was at this kind of speed. So I’ll show you both. The first one -if you play it – I’m gonna play pretty basic. So get your left hand into that nice 5 key position, ’cause you’re going to move it like that. And your right hand is gonna be in an octave span. I’m gonna play the middle note with my middle finger. So your left hand is going to be on F and C for the first chord. You’re going to go F And C, and then move down town to C and G, and Then move back up to F and C , and then you can go down or up to A and E, then wherever you were go to D and A, and then up to G and E, down to C and G, and then up or down to F and C, and then up to G and D.

So while your left hand is doing that, your right hand is going to be either up here [below middle C] or up here [above middle C]. Listen to it; decide what you like. I’m probably going to stay right her,e I don’t know, maybe. SO your right hand is going to be playing like the same notes but one further. But we’re playing the extra C. We’re starting on F:
DAD, GDG, CGC, FCF, GDG, G. And that chord holds.

So what I’m going to do, what I like to do, is play a little, just with a little more movement, just because we already had that. And we’re going to slow down in the instrumental section. So the way I do that is I only play one note in my left hand:
F, C, F, two As or one A (you can pick one)
D, G, C, F, G.

And the way that I do the right hand is just those chords basically that are in the key except that we change A to A7. So I play them in specific inversions so that my hand doesn’t have to move as much, and so that is sounds like a much smoother transition. So I’ll show you. THe first one I play is F. F is in second inversion. And I play that with C F A, and I do that three. AFC, AFC, AFC. And then I move these fingers down (3 and 5), and I move them to E and G, and we play a C [chord], and I start on G [note]: GEC, GEC, GEC. Then move those fingers back up, we’re going to play an F chord again: AFC, AFC, AFC. Then we’re going to play an A chord, you can play an A7 chord if you want. A chord [A major] is like this. (Just so you know, you’re on AEC#.) So AEC#, AEC#. AEC#. If you want to play A7, just play a G instead of an A. And then the next chord is D minor: AFD, AFD, AFD. And then a G chord, and I play mine here with GDB: GDB, GDB, GDB. And then back to C: so GEC, GEC, GEC. And then F again, and just for ease of playing, we’ll play it in the same inversion that we did before: AFC, AFC, AFC. And then we’re going to play G again: GDB, GDB, GDB. And I’m just going to hold that. So let’s play that together once, or you can just watch me and see if you can handle it, and then we’ll go into the instrumental part.

[To be continued, as it takes a while to transcribe.]

Mandy Moore – “Only Hope” piano tutorial

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

I recorded and posted a tutorial on “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore. The keys are a little challenging (E major/C# minor followed by C# major/Db major), but most of the song is quite simple to play. Check it out for yourself and give it a shot! This is the intro and verse.

Chorus and interlude.

Bridge & outro:

How It All Fits Together (I perform the whole song)

If you have kids, will you put them in music lessons?

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

I didn’t get huge results on this one (perhaps interest in answering my polls is waning), but I was pleased with getting some results anyway. It looks like my friends believe that their child should take music lessons to at least try them out, or if their child expresses an interest. Personally, I think each child should try them out (they may discover they have a hidden interest!), but I also think the same should be done for sports.

Click to go to the facebook poll.


Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Improvisation can be a fun part of piano lessons, and it should be introduced early to show the student that they don’t always have to reproduce music, but they can create it themselves! My favourite way to do this is with young children and adult beginners is to play a 12 bar blues chord progression in F# major (Gb major) and let them make up whatever they want on any black keys. They can play the same note the whole time, or play 20 notes at a time, and it will all sound good. Try it out below!

If my students get comfortable with the improv in F#, I like them to try improv in C major. It’s a little more complicated because E and B don’t sound good all the time, so I either accept that, or tell them to play Eb and Bb instead. If I haven’t already introduced some easy licks to incorporate, I do that now. They can mix those in with their own ideas. Here’s the one in C major.

Music Technology

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

I just went to the 2012 Teacher Convention and was fortunate enough to go to a session by Tim Brehaut called “Technology in Rehearsal”. It was for middle/high school band teachers, but the relevance was wonderful! I learned about several iPod/iPad apps for practising/studying music, as well as several websites. Check out the iPod/iPad apps here, and the web resources here. Sight reading, ear training, rhythm (practise or put in a rhythm to hear it). They are great!

Howie Day – Collide cover

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Alright, so this is probably my last only-cover for a while, because I’ve noticed on my YouTube analytics that people are watching my tutorial more, and the audience retention is significantly higher with the tutorial as well! Well that makes sense. I’m not a trained singer, but I am pretty good at making piano accompaniments. So here’s my last cover. It was part of a Valentine’s Day video I made for my boyfriend.