New Free Worksheets for Early Advanced Students

This worksheet is meant to both review the notes in each scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B), but it also designed to help students see the patterns in identifying the tonic/root/I; subdominant/IV; and dominant/V. I will make a subsequent worksheet to pair with this, in which the chords will be written out.

The link to download printables is here.

Preview of worksheet

Please let me know if you have any comments/questions/or suggestions! Thank you!

announcements concerts

Concert Happenings Oct 24-26, 2019

Tulane is having a vocal arts celebration this weekend!

Here’s the schedule. I hope some of you can attend some part of the event. Because one of the tricks of playing piano is to try to imitate the legato that is truly only done best by singers.

I highly recommend the master class (either), the lecture on performance anxiety, and the final concert.

Tulane Vocal Arts Festival Schedule of Events

Friday, October 251:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Tulane Voice Faculty Recital:

Leonard Raybon, Michael McKelvey, Amy Pfrimmer & Aigerim Magavina (Dixon Annex Choral Rm)

2:00 PM – 2:50 PM

Welcome – Coffee and Conversation Break (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

3:00 PM – 4:15 PM Guest Artist Master Class: Michael Hix (Dixon Annex Choral Rm) Collaborative pianist – Aigerim Magavina


  • Melanie Albert, soprano Vedrai Carino from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Madison Jones, mezzo soprano A Foggy Day by George Gershwin
  • Natalia Glavnenko, soprano Piangerò la sorte mia from Giulio César by George Frideric Händel
  • Reid Bowman, baritone Lydia by Gabriel Fauré
  • Kim Chatelain, soprano (alternate) À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn.
  • Wayne Amedee, baritone (alternate) Lasciatemi morire by Claudio Monteverdi

4:30 PM – 5:45 PM Guest Artist Presentation: Ingela Onstad: “Courageous Artistry: Understanding and Conquering Performance Anxiety” (Dixon Annex Choral Room) 

6:00 PM – 6:50 PM Festival Reception (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

7:00 PM – 8:15 PM Guest Artist Recital: Malinda Haslett, soprano and James Kelley, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM

Guest Artist Master Class: Malinda Haslett (Dixon Annex Choral Rm) Collaborative pianist – James Kelley

Grace Patterson, mezzo soprano Der Blumenstrauß by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Emma Schreier, soprano Elle a fui la tourterelle from Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach 

Sammy Maza, soprano Notre amour by Gabriel Fauré

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

Guest Artist Recital:

Michael Hix, baritone, Ingela Onstad, soprano and Michael Borowitz, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

1:30 PM – 2:20 PM Coffee and Conversation Break (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Sing Free! A Festival Singers Musicale, James Kelley, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

  • Nicholas Rains, baritone
    • Erlkönig by Franz Schubert (1727-1828)
    • Shenandoah arr. Jay Althouse (1951-present)
  • Kim Chatelain, soprano
    • Lascia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo by George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)
    • À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
    • Lasciatemi morire by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1743)
    • Amarilli by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618)
  • Olivia Gilbert, piano
    • L’isle Joyeuese, L. 106 by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
  • Haley Lindsley, mezzo-soprano
    • Que fais-tu blanche tourterelle from Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
    • O del mio amato ben by Stefano Donaudy (1879-1925)
  • Eric Anderson, baritone
    • Die Forelle Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
    • Ich grolle nicht Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
  • Arynne Fannin, soprano
    • Apri le Luci from XXXXX by George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)
    • Porgi amor from Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

piano technique

Strengthening the Left Hand from Day One.

Glenn Gould dazzled the classical world with his 1956-released recording of Bach’s at the time, dusty, out-of-fashion, piece called the Goldberg Variations. There’s much to write on both Gould, the music, and his history and much has been written (or documented by film). But one of the universally-agreed-upon reasons for the jaw-dropping playing that took the world by the collar and shook it was that Glenn Gould had an exceptional independence and control over the fingers of his left hand. (More on his technique referenced here.)

A common challenge pianists of all levels (whether righties or lefties) is that their left hands are less agile and fatigue quickly. In my studio, I’ve been employing some strategies to help counter the right hand supremacy from the first lesson.

Have students read and play LH pieces first.

Many method books start with RH reading and playing, which tends to focus the student on the right hand and teach them that the left hand is secondary,. Where you can, always start with introduction of left hand playing and reading bass clef.

Do technique exercises with LH first when playing hand separately.

This forces students to focus on reading the left hand/bass clef part first and in contrast to my observation that students prefer to read the treble clef in the beginning.

For technique, practice the LH exercise 3 times for every one time you play it with RH.

This will allow student to really focus on technique, and make sure the LH develops more swiftly to keep up with RH, which often in pieces carries the more technically complex passages.

Play Bach. A Lot.

Bach is a composer whose music treats RH and LH roughly the same. It’s great for developing independence of the hands and one of the areas Glenn Gould focused on in his student days.

Practice RH passages in pieces with LH.

Obviously, this one can be very irritating as you have to re-finger everything, but in pieces such as those composed by Chopin, you could really challenge the LH this way.

Practice etudes that are designed to develop the LH equally to RH OR that focus on LH.

There are tons of pieces written on for just the LH. Berens has an entire set; The Art of Finger Dexterity, Op.740 (Czerny, Carl) is my preference du jour; Persichetti has a set of “mirror etudes” where the hands play the same thing interesting ways. IMSLP has a whole host of recommended pieces (some quite advanced) and etudes if you need to look for additional resources.

Here’s another set of links from a slightly different search term on IMSLP.

This book below is a little advanced for the beginner but good for later elementary players. (And right now it’s only $4.79 on sheetmusicplus!)

look inside For Left Hand Alone – Book 1 National Federation of Music Clubs 2014-2016 Selection Later Elementary Level. Composed by John Thompson. Willis. Instruction, Recital, Left Hand. 16 pages. Willis Music #8369. Published by Willis Music (HL.414630).

And last, but not least, teachers, write exercises or pieces designed to target the LH that suit your student’s level!

Have any strategies that you use with your students? Or have any opinions on mine? I’d love to hear your feedback, comments, and any questions you might have.


Announcement: Live stream and Twitch Lessons

Hi everyone,

Today was a first in that I used Instagram live on my personal account (@frecklesnola) to livestream my practice session. It was interesting to do and I think I’m going to try it again in the future. For now, I’m going to keep doing it from my personal insta because I have more followers there, but my hope is to transition to my piano account (@piano_nola) eventually. Anyway, please follow either or both if you want to check it out.

I should warn you though – I will NOT be performing. I will being doing very detailed practice of small passages of music, like I encourage my students to practice. (And hopefully I”ll make my piano students watch it every once in a while.) Because instagram is kinda of difficult to embed things, I don’t think I”ll be able to embed the streams in this blog, so sorry for that.

Second announcement is this: I am going to start a beginning piano class on Wednesday mornings at 9 am central time. Of course, I don’t advise anyone learning piano without a teacher (you can learn some really bad technique without feedback), but I’ve always wanted to try to teach over the internet, so this will be an experiment. Perhaps I could make a way for students to send me videos and provide feedback, but I’ll have to look into that. Anyway, I’ll be streaming those sessions on Twitch, where my username is @frecklesnola. So feel free to follow along, comment, provide feedback (no one is perfect), and participate if you are interested.

Wish me luck! And please join me even if you are an experienced player and want to discuss or provide feedback.

music history playlists printables

Listening Homework; Bach

Students will be learning about concertos for a bit in my piano studio. We will be using this book (pictured) and picking pieces therefrom. To start, we will be listening to the Bradenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach. There are six concertos, so it’s a fairly long listen, but some of them are quite short. Notice the use of the harpsichord instead of the piano as well as other instruments common at the time of composition.

The Concerto by Michael Steinberg

Below, you can read about the Brandenburg Concertos, listen to a playlist of the complete set, and download a general listening sheet for students of the intermediate level.

Excerpts on Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto from Steinburg’s The Concerto.

Performances by the Freiburger Barockorchester from Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

And here’s an accompanying listening worksheet that I give to students of the intermediate level. I would recommend filling one worksheet per piece concerto.

Listening Worksheet – General

Let me know in the comments if you used this worksheet or have any thoughts or questions about anything related to this!


Freebies: Color by Musical Note Worksheets for Beginners

I’ve been making these sheets on my own for students. I’d tried using the Color by Note series, which is great, but it doesn’t match the other methods I use with these beginning students. So I’ll be sharing a lot of these over the next few weeks.

Here’s a preview of the worksheet.

piano worksheets
Seal Coloring sheet with CDE on keys and quarter note.

To download, go to PianoNOLA > For Teachers. 

Feel free to collect some of my older resources while you are visiting.

Happy teaching!

announcements concerts performances vocal performances

Symphony concert not to be missed – Mozart’s Requiem

On November 21, 2019 and November 23, 2019, the Louisiana Philharmonic will be performing Mozart’s Requiem, and I highly encourage everyone, even those who are rare symphony-goers to attend.

You see, a work of this size requires a full orchestra, a full choir, and a set of opera singers for its success. That’s a lot more musicians on the stage collaborating than in your typical symphony concert where you’d have a full orchestra playing with a soloist and then just a full orchestra. And it is something to be appreciated.

Also, works like Mozart’s Requiem are particularly soul-stirring in my opinion. This work was one of the last works that Mozart composed before his death – he worked on it in the second half of 1791 and died in December 1791, leaving the work unfinished (ultimately finished by a student of his, named Franz Xaver Sussmayr). Parts of the requiem were performed for Mozart’s own funeral mass. The history of the work has been enshrouded by myths and untruths by scholarship since its inception – a most recent example is the film Amadeus, so the work itself has some spectre surrounding it. But even without knowing any of that, it is sublime to hear, see, feel, and experience. It touches my soul.

You can read more about the history of the work in Michael Steinburg’s excellent Choral Masterworks: a Listeners Guide. Oxford University Press, 2005 (pp. 219-229).

IF you can’t make the concert, add it to your future events to look out for (along with all great choral masterworks). If you’d like to hear a performance from youtube, please see below and enjoy!


Download: Music Math and Rhythm Quiz

If you follow my blog, you know I routinely share worksheets and resources that I make for my own piano students. Toda

I created a new worksheet or quiz that is a mix of the following types of questions:

  • music math questions,
  • circle incorrect measures
  • complete the measures

The worksheet is intended for beginner students and includes the following:

  • quarter notes, quarter rests
  • half notes and rests
  • dotted half notes
  • whole notes and rests
  • 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures

Here’s a preview of the worksheet, which will be available without the watermark to subscribers under the “Downloads” tab of the website.



Free music flashcard template

I’ve been struggling with how best to make or have my students make good flashcards, so the other day, I sat down with Illustrator and made a printable template. I can’t be the only one that has this problem, so I thought I’d share it with you today 🙂

You can download for free here.

music & computers Music Ed and Tech

Some music apps I recommend for piano students

1. Note Rush – $3.99 on iOS App store

This app is a great app for training students to quickly connect notes displayed on the staff with the actual key that it connotes. The app works by calibrating first to middle C. After that, the app listens to what you play in response to the”questions” which are the notes on the staff. The app can be adjusted to select specific note ranges or levels, so it works for any student who have started to read notes on the staff.

This app in my experience has been enjoyable for students of all ages and is a MUST in teaching.

2. Multirhythms Rhythm Trainer

This app is available for iOS devices. $4.99


This is what the app does according to the app developers:

Multirhythms’ features are designed to help you master tricky rhythms and limb independence:


• Practice along with an endless variety of multirhythms

• Includes common metronomes, polyrhythms, Afro-Cuban claves, and clap-and-wave patterns for Carnatic and Hindustani talas

• Easily create additional multirhythms with the built-in editor

• Program the tempo to automatically speed up and slow down

• Precise timekeeping with 22.7 microsecond accuracy


• Hear complicated multirhythms you want to learn through the built-in editor

• Input and play back up to 16 simultaneous rhythms

• Supports odd meters (e.g., dividing every 17 beats into 7 subdivisions)

• Choose from dozens of real percussion sound samples

• Includes example Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and popular drumset multirhythms


• Practice multirhythms while away from your instrument

• Tap notes as they scroll across the screen

• Get immediate feedback on your accuracy

• Accelerate your mastery with tempo that adjusts to your skill level

• Focus on specific parts by setting individual rhythm volumes

The great thing I like about this app is the metronome. You can pick pre-built multirhythms OR you can enter the specific challenge you are faced with. For example, I was looking at Chopin Prelude Op. 28, No. 1 recently. It has the following notation:

Notice the notation has a rhythm of 5 against 6 over 2 beats

In the app, you go to polyrhythms, select 5 against 6 first.

Voila, you have a polyrhythm metronome

I’ll be writing about more app recommendations in subsequent posts, so stay tuned!

music education music history music theory

Check out this great explanation of Trap music on PBS!

PBS has more to offer than you’d think.

In this video, you learn the components of a trap beat (and how to emulate) as well as the genre’s history. Great ten minutes to spend!