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Italian for Beginners (or people playing the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven) Parli italiano?

Uncategorized Sep 28, 2020

Do you speak Italian?

Personally, I can recognize when Italian is being spoken, and I can usually recognize when it is written, in italics, in my music. Recognizing it is being spoken or written doesn't mean I understand what I am hearing or seeing. I tune out and stop paying attention to things I don't understand, often.

To make it easier for you, I pulled out all of the Italian words in the music and have given you their musical definitions.

Sonata quasi una fantasia

Sonata almost a fantasy

The sonata is written in the style of a fantasia which is a free form and improvisational. This one is almost a fantasia...

adagio sostenuto

sustained slowly

This is the first movement of the 3 movements of the Moonlight Sonata. It means to play the piece slowly throughout.

Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino

This piece must be played very deicately and without mute

sempre pp (pianissimo) e senza sordino

always very quiet and without mute



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Building a graphic library, one 7th at a time (Major and Minor 7th chords)


Playing around with the major octave scale lead me to a much deeper understanding of Major 7th Chords. 

Take aways from this-

Using a progress bar can give your students a nudge. It is easier to hit a target when you can see it in front of you.

Getting students to play all of the keys on the piano regularly, even before they understand how to read the notes makes it easier for students to make progress.

Graphic libraries can boost your online teaching.

When you create graphics to share with your students, minimize the stuff on the page. 

Happy Teaching!


The full graphic library for the Major 7th chords is an added bonus to the 4 Note and Octave scale graphic library here


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Playing around with the F Major Scale


Rethinking how to teach scales. 

This is the second iteration of teaching a full octave scale.

This is for getting the sounds in your ear and the geometry of the scale in the hands.

After going full circle with the full octave scales you (or a student of yours) should have a really solid idea of the difference between half steps and whole steps. 

(A whole step is two keys with a key in between, and a half step is two adjacent keys.)- 

Another takeaway from the videos is the tonic-dominant relationship. While I am not actually saying what they are, I am introducing the vocabulary. This is priming a student for future learning. 

At this point, I don't care if they know scale degrees or their names. I also am not focusing on reading the notes on a staff. The point is to play the scales all over the piano, and not just in one location. 

These are not one hand scales. As a two handed exercise, it is great for getting connections between both halves of the...

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4 note scales


Do you teach 4 note scales? They are often called tetrachords, but I am moving away from the term to make playing and understanding them easier for students.

This summer has been the summer of deconstructing how I teach. I want to make it easier for my students to learn what I am teaching, and I want to increase the efficiency of online teaching.

Once again, I'm  Chicken-and-egging-it to have students learn scales and key signatures. 

For teaching root position triads, it is helpful to have a student learn 5 note scales. 

However, for full octave scales and 7th chords, using the 4 note scales is more useful. And, teaching the 4 octave scales by going around the circle of 5ths backwards seems to be an effective way of reinforcing the relationships between the keys.

All of this seems really complicated in words, but the graphic library for the 4 note scales I'm working on makes it easy for a student to do in a lesson. 

Every online lesson I am now...

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Without a name, a key becomes invisible


Have you ever had a student play a "B flat" when you asked him to play a "C flat?"

Or an "F sharp" instead of an "E sharp?"

Earlier this year I started making mini videos to help my online students (which is all of my students, at the moment) learn 5 note scales and root position triads for all of the keys. 

The video series includes the enharmonic keys like F sharp/G flat. I ended up making 7 1-minute videos for the names of all the keys, including all of the black keys. No musical staff here. That comes later. People learn the names of their friends before they learn to spell them. Right?

The 7 minute mini course is free and you can find it here:

Know the keys of the piano by name

Happy playing!



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Getting Right Hand Right!


Getting left and right confused is a really common problem for piano students (actually, for people in general). 

In this video you will learn a simple exercise that you can teach your students to set them on the path to getting right right. All of the time.

Once you teach it to your students, have them repeat it 20-30 times a day for a few weeks (it only takes 5-10 seconds each time). 

I learned it at Alderwood Vision Therapy when my son was having vision therapy for a learning and processing issue.

Happy Teaching,


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