In the lesson, we started by doing some stretches to warm up the body and loosen up the hands and wrists. We then reviewed the sitting position and hand position while playing “Twinkle Twinkle.”

We learned how to play “Magic Tree House” in her songbook. Like the previous songs “Wendy the Whale” and “Katie Scores,” the song has a picture to show where the fingers should be on the keyboard, and which fingers play which notes. It starts in the middle of the keyboard and rises with each repetition of the melody. It follows the pattern “finger 2, finger 2, finger 2, play fingers 2&3&4 together.”

At home: I want Rachel to review “Magic Tree House” with her mom or dad. It will help her greatly to have someone read out the finger numbers and the instructions to her as she plays.

Rachel enjoys making up her own melodies instead of playing what’s written on the page. As a composer, I can understand how this is sometimes more exciting than following a book. So, I encourage Rachel to come up with some melodies on her own this week (as long as she is also reviewing Magic Tree House too). It’s very important to follow the book’s instructions, but I still encourage Rachel to be creative by making up her own music!

In her writing book, the lesson is all about reading notes that follow the contour of the melody. This technique is really useful when students first start out and don’t read the musical staff. To read this kind of music, read from left to right (like a regular book). If the passage starts lower on the page and moves higher, that means the melody is going up. If it starts higher on the page and moves downwards, it means the melody is moving down. In the writing book, page 25, I want Rachel to draw arrows to show if a passage is going up, down, or staying the same.

Rachel should work on her piano for 10 minutes every day.


This week, Chantal showed me all of Group IV of A Dozen a Day and played with strong fingers. She did a great job!

Warm-Up: A Dozen a Day, Group V, exercises 1 and 2. In these exercises, we see the eighth note for the first time! The eighth note is worth half of a quarter note. I encourage Chantal to do these exercises while counting out loud by saying “one and two and…”

Repertoire Book: I want Chantal to review The Lonely Pine this week, as she was unsure about the notes this week and did not feel comfortable playing it all the way through in the lesson. I suggest when she practices this piece, that she:

  • double check her notes in each staff
  • first practice hands separately
  • find where the left hand and right hand play at the same time, and draw a line in pencil to connect them.
  • after feeling comfortable in both hands separate, she can play both parts together
  • a slow and steady tempo is always helpful
  • counting out loud can help too

Chantal should practice for 15 minutes every day.


Warm-Up: Double 3rds in C or D. Continue to spend a little more time on just your left hand to help clean up the notes so they don’t sound as “blurry.” Keep moving your wrist as you play to make sure it stays relaxed. Don’t stiffen up you hand or wrist as you play.

Dragonfly Scherzo: Continue to work on this at a slow tempo. Keep your eyes on the music as much as you can. If you make a mistake while you’re looking at your hands, you may have difficulty finding where you were in the music. This can cause problems in fixing the error.

Menuet in E major: Practice the 2nd portion of the piece really slowly. Start by playing hands separately, then try to play them together.
Before you start playing, think about the key signature, and tell yourself which notes are sharp and which are natural. You can even play an E major scale to familiarize yourself with the sound.

Ivan Polkka: Use your whole body when playing the left hand accompaniment. Don’t make your wrist too rigid while you play. You want to keep it loose so you don’t injure yourself. Use your arm and back to move the left hand. Playing piano doesn’t have to be a stationary thing. Your whole body can move with your hands! This also helps you feel the music.

Try to practice for 30 minutes every day!

Zoe A.

Warm-Up: We reviewed last week’s assignment for A Dozen a Day and then looked at exercises #7 -9. This week, I want Zoe to practice 7-9, while trying to keep her fingers close to the keys as she plays them.

As Zoe forgot her book, we took a look at a song in a book I own. This song showed her where a new D was on the staff. The song also used her right hand and left hand at the same time a lot more than she was used to. But even so, she was able to play the song with confidence!

We also did some ear training with major and minor chords. I asked Zoe to tell me if the chord was happy (major) or sad (minor). We also reviewed some musical terms and staff reading.

At home, Zoe can continue in her Piano Adventures book and take a look at the next song. We will review last week’s assignment and the new song next week.

Zoe should try to practice for 15 minutes every day.

Zoe M.

This week, we reviewed how to sit at the piano and the hand position. The most important thing to remember is to keep the fingers curved, and the wrists arched (like a cat’s claws).

Then we started to look at the book I like to use to teach beginner piano: Step by Step by Edna Mae Burnam.

  • We learned how to find C on the keyboard, and where middle C is on the keyboard and the musical staff.
  • We learned about quarter notes (which are black notes, and are worth one beat), half notes (which are white notes with stems and are worth two beats), and whole notes (which are white notes without stems and are worth four beats).
  • We learned about
  • We also learned about the treble clef, which is used by the right hand and is for notes from middle C up to the highest note on the keyboard.
  • We learned about the bass clef, which is used by the left hand and is for notes from middle C down to the lowest note on the keyboard.

We also took a look at the first song in the book “Hop and Stop” and the second song “Popcorn”, which is written with just middle C. What’s important is remembering which hand to use, depending on which clef C is written on.

This week, I want Zoe to review “Hop and Stop” and “Popcorn.” I have scanned the first two pages of the book so Zoe can start right away until she is able to pick up a copy of the book.


There is a lot of information at first with this book, and we will be reviewing it a lot for the next few weeks. This book introduces a lot of concepts all at once so that the student can start reading the staff right away. After that, the book slows the pace down quite a bit and introduces new notes and concepts more slowly (step by step).

The book can be found at music book stores like Long and McQuade and also on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Step-Piano-Course-Book/dp/0877180369 

Since Zoe is just starting out, she only needs to play for 10 minutes every day.


Warm-Up: Double 3rds in C. This week, pay attention to your 4th and 5th fingers especially as you play, and see if you can keep them closer to the keys when they aren’t playing.

This week, each piece just needs a little more slow practice to totally solidify all the notes before we try to speed things up or add ornaments.

Sunset in Rio: This week, try to add in dynamics as you play this piece. Continue at the slower tempo, just to make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the rhythm and notes.

Sonatina: Start by working on the sectioned-off part on page 3. As soon as you run into a problem, stop immediately and ask yourself “what is it about this part that makes it difficult/awkward?” Then, take the section “apart.” This could mean playing the part hands separately. You can also play really small sections of bars and then try to play the whole bar together once the smaller section has been worked on.

Lied: Take note of where you are having problems, and isolate those sections. You can write in little stars on spots that give you problems so that you don’t forget where they are the next time you practice! You can ask yourself “what makes this spot different from the part I find easier/more comfortable? What makes them the same?” Sometimes assessing the piece like this can help you better understand how the piece is made, and what exactly causes the issue.

Try to practice for 30 minutes every day!