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!

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!

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!

Freebie Friday! More Color-by-Note worksheets

This worksheet reinforces finding C, D, and E on the keyboard as well as asks students to recognize quarter notes and half notes.

This sheet is a little more advanced. It asks students to recognize C, D, and E on the treble clef and recognize quarter, half, and whole notes.

I hope you enjoy these resources for your piano students. Please share and consider liking us on Facebook (link).

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!

Google Doodle on Bernstein!

Reprinted from Google Doodles:

Happy 100th birthday to American music icon Leonard Bernstein! The youngest conductor ever to lead the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, he was also the first U.S. conductor to gain international renown, leading a 1953 performance of ‘Medea’ at La Scala in Milan, Italy’s foremost opera house.

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Bernstein discovered music around age 10 and overcame his parents’ resistance to his passion for the arts. His creativity and talent spilled over from one artform to the next, and throughout his life, the most persistent criticisms of his work were that he did too much. “I want to conduct,” he wrote late in life. “I want to play the piano. I want to write for Hollywood. I want to write symphonic music. I want to keep on trying to be, in the full sense of that wonderful word, a musician. I also want to teach. I want to write books and poetry. And I think I can still do justice to them all.”

Today’s Doodle celebrates Bernstein’s life set to one of his  most iconic works—the score to West Side Story. The tale, following the turf war between two rival gangs and star-crossed lovers in the west side of Manhattan, was brought to life through Bernstein’s gripping score. The original 1957 production was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical. Explore the history and legacy of the iconic musical by visiting Google Arts & Culture.

A larger-than-life personality, Bernstein held the baton with emphatic mannerisms, reacting to the emotion of the music mid-performance. As Director of the New York Philharmonic, he exposed generations of young people to musical programming on television. Before Bernstein’s tenure, no widely-aired television show existed to educate youth through musical performances. In this way, and as a popular commentator about music on radio and TV, he made intellectual culture more accessible to the public at large.

Bernstein was also a skilled lecturer—winning a Grammy in 1961 for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (other than comedy). He published books about music and lectured on poetry at Harvard University.

His legacy endures as a musical polymath, a creator of culture, and an example that sometimes more is more.

Happy Birthday, Leonard Bernstein!

Here are some articles celebrating Bernstein from around the web:

Life With Leonard Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein watches her father, Leonard Bernstein, conduct the New York Philharmonic at a rehearsal for one of his Young People’s …

Here’s a fun example of Bernstein’s compositions performed by Kristin Chenowith:

Here’s an example of Bernstein as both a conductor and pianist:

And here is an example of Bernstein as an educator:


Freebie Friday! Worksheet for identifying tonic, subdominant, and dominant in basic major keys.

Here’s a quick worksheet I made for a student who is learning about the concept of the tonic, subdominant, and dominant.  It does not require the student write out the chord; it only requires that the student name the chord.

It covers the following major keys:  C, G, D, A, E

It is designed with an intermediate student in mind.

To download, follow this link.





Get in the Halloween Spirit with this Halloween Practice Chart

I’m not sure what happened, but all of a sudden today, I’m obsessed with Halloween.  I’m paper mache-ing a costume (inspired by a costume seen on a televised opera production), I’ve bought goodies for students, and I have strung faux spiderwebs and orange lights outside my door.

So, while I was at it, I made this chart (click on link to download):

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Free Notespeller Timed Test

I loved timed tests in math as an elementary student.  Maybe you did too.  One thing I’ve noticed teaching lately is that despite having students do sight reading assignments weekly (from Faber’s Piano Adventure’s Sight Reading books), my students in both my group classes and individual lessons are weak on quick note reading.  So, I’ve decided to start putting them under a little pressure with timed tests.

This one is aimed at students who can read both clefs, lines and spaces but uses little to no ledger lines.  Download by clicking on the image below!


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