Arrange-Con II


The culture for making music the property of piano students themselves, through arranging, improv and composition, is developing.
We had two piano recitals this year. Students participated in each others’ performances by actively listening. They shared energy and inspiration to become more creative with their music making.

2020 TMTA Teacher Enrichment Grant

The Texas Music Teachers Association awarded me the Teacher Enrichment Grant to further my study of Music Learning Theory applied to Piano at the advanced level professional development course to be held by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning in Quincy, MA, in August 2020. Naturally the course was canceled because of the pandemic, but TMTA said I could keep the funds for when GIML offers the course again in the future. Thanks, TMTA!

Connecting through Music through the Internet

For me, the effort to make online piano lessons work is all about human connection through music!

While CCISD schools are closed for physical distancing, all piano lessons will be conducted via Web — no in-person lessons. For the online lessons, desktop or laptop is preferable for a side view of the student and keyboard and to turn Original Sound ON in Zoom’s desktop/laptop app’s Audio-Advanced settings. If you only have a tablet or smartphone available, let’s make do! I am also willing to try out my Google Meet account, Skype, Facetime, and What’s App. Just let me know of your interest!

To get ready for your first Zoom lesson, create your free basic Zoom account at . When it’s almost time for the lesson, click on the link in the lesson reminder text. You will be prompted to download the Zoom app, which improves quality. Project your voice toward your device’s microphone.

Before each lesson, log in to your Musikhaus Texas Portal to read News and Lesson Notes so you know what to expect from the coming lesson. Close other Internet browser tabs. Place all piano lesson books, recordings and a pencil and eraser within reach. Ask others in your household to refrain from using the Internet during the lesson.

Attached are peeks from beyond the screens of my current online lesson setup.

Signing on with Liam Du-da-di T-Rex, who brightens my day. Top of the laptop already tilted down for side view of the piano. Notice light source is from behind the camera, not in front of it.
Getting ready to sit at the piano. I like this distance and elevation of the laptop for the side view.
Overhead view of my hands on the keyboard through the iPad on the stand. I’ve also attached my iPhone7 to the iPad stand with rubber bands, and it worked fine. iPhone and iPad’s Zoom Meeting Settings have “Auto Connect to Audio” OFF and “Always Mute My Microphone” ON. This prevents feedback painful to the ears.
See Zoom’s “gallery view” on the laptop? It’s a setting on your Zoom meeting screen that shows the student, my piano and myself. It would be nice if I had a larger laptop, but my 2011 MacBook Air is more than sufficient for now. Wow, it’s older than several of my students.
Going to turn my whole body back to the laptop for away-from-the-keyboard audiation skills, which may also be done standing up for longer activities. I just tilt the top of the laptop to show my upper body. I’d like students to be agile about turning toward the laptop when necessary.

Easy Zoom piano lessons through April 1, at least

Hi again, Musikhaus parents and students!
I will no longer send you Zoom links for piano lessons. It’s much simpler for you to set up a free basic account at and “Join” me on Zoom by inputting my Personal Meeting ID. That’s what I’ll be sending you this week, and you’ll join all lessons with it even when we reschedule. Use a desktop, laptop or tablet for the lesson so the screen is big enough to see what I am doing.
Online piano lessons are getting better day by day!

Students and parents, this set-up gives me a side view of the student’s hands, and the laptop/ladder is super easy for the student to move to show the face up close or movement activities if student backs away. Use “gallery view” to see me and how you appear to me.