9 Ways to Make More Money Without Raising Lesson Prices

I get it. I totally get it. Things are crazy right now and with inflation driving prices higher every week everyone is squeezed.

Sticker shock at the gas pump and at the grocery store means your money doesn’t go nearly as far as did last year. You want to raise rates…you need to raise rates, but is that a good idea?

After all, prices have gone up for everyone and a rate hike might just be what pushes some families over the edge and into the quit zone.

So, what do you do? I can’t answer for everyone, there is no “one size fits all” solution but I will share some of the things I am doing (and considering doing) to compensate for rising prices without raising my rates right now or taking on a lot of extra work hours.

1- Focus on student retention. It’s way easier to keep the students you have than it is to find new ones. Do your best to keep your students happy and moving ahead. See the post “Student Retention”
2- Start teaching group and/or buddy lessons. Families can save money and at the same time, you can earn a little more by teaching more than one student at a time.
3- Teach online. If you are traveling teach at least half of your lessons online. If you are a studio owner, ask parents to have a hybrid of online and in-person lessons. This will save them and your teachers time and travel expenses. You may be surprised at how much parents like this option. I worked at a studio before COVID. I am still teaching most of my students online.
4- Offer legacy pricing. Raise prices for new students, keep rates the same for the students you have presently.
5- Understand tax law and keep good records. Depending upon where you live you may be able to include music, materials, instrument repairs, travel expenses, and even your home studio as business expenses. This can mean big savings.
6- Consider making some extra money using the “Gig Economy” Yes, you can play actual gigs, but you can also make some extra cash on platforms like, Sheet Music Plus, Sound better or Fiverr writing, playing, editing, or transcribing music.
7- Be sure you are getting reimbursed for any materials you are providing for your students. Let families pay for books and materials. If you can buy method books etc. in bulk at a discounted rate and sell them to your students at the regular listed price. Or join a membership like this one palomapiano.com where you can resell our music and materials to your students.
8- Restructure your schedule and payments to free up some time to make money doing other things or accepting additional students. For example, if you normally charge $30 per lesson and teach 24 lessons per semester cut down to 20 lessons in the same time period.
9- Charge recital fees and fees for participation in events. Sell snacks and drinks at your recital or at least ask parents to bring these things.
10 Hold a fundraiser to help cover things like recital venues, new equipment for your studio, and scholarships for deserving students. Piano teachers never seem to do this but just about every other activity does. For example, my granddaughter’s Irish dancing school sells T-shirts and asks for donations at events.

I personally am not going to raise rates right now. I think most families are squeezed enough and I don’t want to risk losing students. It is often easier to keep the students you have than to find new ones.

Read the post, “Tips for Student Retention”

If you decide not to raise your rates, be sure to let your families know that you are intentionally not increasing the price of lessons right now. Most people will really appreciate this and want to stick with you.

If a family does let me know that they are leaving and I want to retain that student I will follow up with a phone call and offer them some options such as group or buddy lessons, or perhaps a “scholarship” aka reduced rate.

My goal is to be able to earn enough money to keep doing what I love. Teaching people to play the piano! I will do my best to serve my students and take care of my needs at the same time.

I encourage you to keep going. ai believe this too shall pass and things will level out. Remember that you are amazing, and you are doing something that will add so much joy to the lives of your students.

Learn more about Paloma Piano’s Platinum membership!

Free Music??

Free Music??

Ok, confession time… I know the title of this post is a bit of an attention-getter. But I doubt anyone would click on a boring title like “The Process of Publishing Music”


Plus, I see a lot of people looking for free music. I get it, times are tight and we all like free stuff. Nevertheless, I thought I’d do composers a good turn and take the time to give you a look at what it takes to get a piece of music out into the world.


Read on. You may be surprised at just how much work is involved. Depending upon the length and difficulty of the music it can take hours, even days, or weeks to compose and publish a piece of music that is ready to be taught.



Musical Knowledge and Expertise


A composer must have the knowledge and inspiration to be able to compose a quality piece of music.


In the case of piano pedagogical music, the composer must be able to write for students of multiple levels using a variety of genres and styles.


Being able to do this requires a special type of composer, one who knows and understands the needs of piano students and can compose music specifically designed for their motivation and advancement.


Technical Requirements


In addition to composing the piece. A composer must also know how to use music notation software and recording and mixing software. The music must be published somewhere, that is, hosted on a website or other platform.


Getting the music out in front of teachers so they know that it exists, requires that a composer be able to play well enough to record the music or pay someone to do it.


The pdf must be published somewhere for teachers to be able to access it. This means the composer must have the ability to operate a website or publish on Amazon or another platform.


A video or mp3 of the music requires that the composer has the know-how to turn the music into something that can be watched or listened to. This also must be hosted somewhere requiring further knowledge including how to publish on Vimeo or run a YouTube channel.


Continue reading “Free Music??”

Tips for Student Retention


The best way to keep your studio healthy and thriving is to keep your students coming back year after year. The fact is, that it can be easier to retain your students than it is to find new ones.

There are two main components to keeping students on board, it’s important that both parents and students see the value in continuing with lessons.


Before we start, evaluate your situation


Is your studio full? Do you have a waiting list? Can you easily get new students? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you don’t need to worry about student retention.


However, if you are like me and the transition from teaching in-person to online or dealing with ongoing COVID shut-downs has left your studio a little “light” You might want to read on and sign up for the “Retaining Students Webinar”


This webinar will be part of a three-part series designed to help piano teachers hedge inflation by saving money and making more money. I will do a deep dive into the following subjects.


Part One – Retaining Students

Part Two – Marketing and Advertising

Part Three – Making Money in the Music Gig Economy

Let’s get started.

Here are my favorite ways to make sure my students keep coming back.

Be sure your students are making progress and their parents are aware of it.

Piano lessons are expensive and time-consuming for parents. Make sure that families are getting their money’s worth. Even students that aren’t that great about practicing can improve and learn new music.

When parents see that their children are learning to play, the last thing, they will want to cut out is piano lessons. Take the time to find repertoire that fits each individual student.


See the post Practice makes progress


Assign music that makes your students sound and feel like winners.

Everyone wants to feel successful, and success begets more success. I have been assigning music that is easy to learn but sounds great in addition to music that is on a student’s level. Continue reading “Tips for Student Retention”

I Love My iPad

I love my iPad! by Doreen M Hall

In July of 2020 my father gave me an awesome gift. An iPad pro. This was before pandemic shutdowns and online teaching became my main way of earning my living. I had no idea at the time how much I would come to love and depend on my iPad for just about everything I do musically these days.

Here are the ways I make use of my iPad. I am only including things that I can use on my iPad that don’t require my student to also have an iPad.

I use the Forscore app.

This app. allows me to have all of my music in one place. I can organize it by genre, I can tag and label pieces for specific students or special events. The app allows me to make setlists for concerts or gigs.

I can either upload and pdf into the app or I can scan it in with the built-in camera. I can also screen share with my student and write on the music in real-time. Highlighting things like accidentals, dynamics, etc. My student and I can go through the score together and add any markings necessary.

Since my website, palomapiano.com features hundreds of pdf files (including method books, scales, solos, classical selections, duets, theory, and much more!) I have everything ready for super easy access. Which for me is a total slam dunk! https://forscore.co/


Speaking of Pdf files the International Music Score Literacy Project has thousands of works in the public domain. These can be downloaded into Forscore in a flash. https://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page


I use the iPad to play games like Note-Rush and Foyumin Music Reading. For Noterush My students can actually play the notes on their instrument and the app. hears it. Fuyomin I have the student call the notes out and I enter them. Cool!


I love to pull up awesome music videos to watch with my students. YouTube doesn’t allow screen sharing however I can set my iPad in in front of my computer (mac book pro) and they can see and hear the video very well.


I can use the iPad to record videos of my students playing. I also do this by setting up the camera so that my student can be recorded from my computer screen.


I have a dice app. that I use to play games with my students. We “roll’ the dice to decide how many times they will play a section or how many times per day they will practice a certain skill. Or who will play a new piece first?


I have a couple of metronome apps. Including “Impulse” and “Speak Beat” these work well online. The Forscore app. also includes a built-in metronome.

Backing Tracks

For my more advanced students as well as for my own practice I use the iReal Pro app. This includes backing tracks for hundreds of jazz tunes. I can set it and my students can hear it and play.

Taking Notes

I also have a notepad app, which allows me to keep notes on each student. This way I always know what they are working on and if I need to send any new music, contact parents, etc.


I also have the Kindle Cloud Reader and a Kindle account. Most piano books are now available as eBooks, so I have a few books on my kindle reader. I have had students show up online with new books such as the music from Harry Potter. When this happens, I just pop over to kindle and purchase the book. It’s not as convenient as the Forscore app which allows me to write and notate on the music but in a pinch, it’s great.


I take my iPad to choir practice weddings, funerals, and anywhere else I would take sheet music or music books. You can even get a page-turner foot pedal. Although, I have not found this necessary as page-turning in Forscore is easy. One caveat is to disable SIRI because sometimes a random sound will cause her to turn a page when you don’t want it turned. (I found this out the hard way. But once SIRI was turned off I had no more such problems.)

In conclusion

I am sure I will find even more uses for my iPad. I have the 12.9 inch iPad pro 4th generation. I knew I would be using it a lot, so I went for the 512GB memory. But the 128 or 256GB is plenty for most needs. The iPad comes with many great features. I also have an iPencil which helps with writing while screen sharing. I also purchased a magnetic cover to protect the investment.

The iPad Pro is not cheap, and you can do all of these things with a smaller model. For performances and rehearsals, I like the bigger screen.

The iPad has been great for use during in-person lessons and a Godsend in running my studio online.

If you are interested in getting an iPad I recommend you shop around for the best price. And don’t forget to save your receipt, in the U.S. this purchase is considered a business expense and is tax-deductible.

Happy Teaching!

Please check out palomapiano.com for all kinds of great piano teaching resources! While you are there check out our membership options.


Making Online Teaching Easier

We have all been thrown into online lessons whether we wanted to be teaching online or not. I have been teaching online since 2016 when I moved from South Florida to Cleveland Ohio. I have several students who wanted to continue their lessons with me, so I started teaching using FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or Rock Out Loud Live.


I have learned quite a bit over the last few months so I am sharing some new things here. Happy Online teaching!


For Yourself

Get comfortable. Get a comfortable chair, set things up so you can stand if you need to. Being physically comfortable is step one in making online lessons easier.

Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite drink. Treat yourself, you deserve it!

Change your schedule. Online teaching is more demanding for us. However, just about everyone has some flexibility right now. I set my schedule up so that I don’t have more than seven or eight students in a row.

Keep a pen and paper handy to take notes.

Invest in a webcam for over the keys. I use this tool at every lesson to demonstrate how things are to be played. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.


When Working With Your Students

1 –Assign easier repertoire. Cut your students (and yourself) some slack. Take a step back and assign some fun easy to learn pieces.

2 – If a student is struggling, work in small chunks. Learn a measure, learn the next measure then put them together, and so on. Cover what you can and assign this to your student for practice. For more advanced students who can read well and work independently, this may be a great time to take on some new challenges. But for a lot of students taking a step back and assigning something easier to learn is a good way to go.

4 – Offer to check in with students during the week. I have been telling my students that if they are confused about something or run out of things to do to contact me and I can jump on Facetime or Zoom and help them out or give them some more work. (I do this even when in-person lessons are taking place.)

3 – Games and videos. I find these essential. About midway through the lesson, my students and I play a game, or I choose a short piano or music-related video for my student to watch. The mental break does wonder for my student’s focus and attitude. It also helps me.

4 – Choose a theme of the week. Last week I had my students focus on reviewing musical terms. We played a musical terms game. This week the theme is Baroque music, next week we will explore the Classical period. This not only is educational but fun as well!

5 – Be encouraging. Our students are getting used to this new way of teaching as much as we are. Tell them how great they are doing! Pump them up, help them to feel good about giving online lessons a chance.

6 – Keep track of assignments. A simple notebook is the best way of doing this. Jot down any notes that will help you remember what students are working on.


1- Use a computer or a tablet with a large enough screen so that you can see your student easily. Be sure your student has a good view of your piano.

2 – Make sure your student also has a large enough screen and has it set up so that you can see their hands and body.

3 – Invest in a webcam and boom stand so that you can change to a view of the keys when needed.



Check your computer’s audio output. If needed invest in a separate microphone so that your students can better hear you.

Speak slowly and clearly.

Some platforms like Zoom automatically adjust the volume. In my experience, this becomes a problem when I play something for my student. Zoom turns my output down and then my student has trouble hearing me speak.  If this happens go to audio settings and unselect “Automatically adjust audio”



In order to conduct online piano lessons, you and your student must have a fast enough internet connection. 2 MB per second for upload is recommended for video.

You can check the google speed test to find out if your speed is fast enough. The big issue is the upload speed. You can go to Google and search “speed test” to check your speed.

I know that I have a super-fast connection and still, there are sometimes glitches. However, it is getting better and the whole situation is getting better overall. Technology is always advancing.

If there are a few glitches I just relax and roll with it. If we are experiencing a particularly glitchy day, I reschedule the lesson.


Sending Music


I have all of my student’s music in pdf format making it easy to email to parents. Of course, most of the music I use is on my website palomapiano.com. Teachers pay a small membership fee and are licensed to download everything on the website and use it with their own students for as long as they are members. (There are a lot of free things available right now.)


All of the music includes either mp3 or video performances of the pieces to be learned. This can be sent along to your students.


I recommend imslp or pianostreet for standard repertoire. Imslp is free to use pianostreet requires all users to have a membership, students must have their own account.


There are many other composers offering printable music with studio licenses. Making storing and sending super easy.


Keep it simple. Choose a few pieces at a few different levels for your students. For right now it’s Ok if multiple students are playing the same piece.


I also invested in an iPad pro. (Yes it was expensive but worth every penny). I use the Forscore app to store my music. Because I have a mac computer I can screen share my music with my student. I can even write on the score, things like fingering numbers, beats, etc. can be copied easily by my student.


Rock Out Loud Live allows you to put a pdf on your student’s screen so that they can just hit the print icon and print it immediately. Zoom allows you to upload a pdf in the chat. No more sending emails to mom or dad and waiting until the next lesson. Yay!!

Zoom allows you to upload a pdf in the chat.



I love my piano parents! Every one of them is focused on what is best for their children. I really want to make sure they know that I appreciate them. If you have young children at home and out of school right now you know that this is an especially challenging time. Here are some ideas.


1 – At the beginning or the end of the lesson be sure to say hello to parents and ask how they are doing.


2 – Send emails regularly with updates and music and resources for the students.


3 – Send a text letting parents know when their child has had a great lesson.


4 – Be caring, be concerned, stay positive.


5 – Plan an online meeting and get together with families for some enjoyable and music educational activities.


I am working hard to provide the resources that my students need and I am sharing everything with other teachers. I am making more music and resources free so as to help teachers organize and plan their week. I have been sending an email out sharing my weekly theme including resources and a list of free pieces on a regular basis.


To get your freebie visit www.palomapiano.com and join our email list.


Keep going, teachers. We all have a positive part to play. This crisis will pass hopefully soon.

Stay safe.

Many thanks to our health care and essential workers.


AuthorDoreen HallPosted onMarch 31, 2020CategoriesPiano PedagogyPiano Teaching Life StyleEdit”Making Online Teaching Easier Updated”



10 Tips for Teaching Transfer Piano Students

“Hello…Ms. Hall?” “Yes, this is she” “My name is Sherry I am looking for a new piano teacher for my daughter Angie do you have any openings in your studio for  new piano students?”

“Hmm, a transfer piano student,” I think to myself. Am I excited because I may get a student who can play well and is ready for some great repertoire? Or am a filled with trepidation thinking about all of the remediations I may have to do? To be honest, a little bit of both. But transfer students are part of the game so here are 10 tips that will help you book those transfer students have great success.


  1. Have both the potential student and her parents attend the first lesson. You really want to be able to speak with whoever is responsible for booking the lesson. Ask that the student bring along any music on which she is working. Let them know that you will be expecting the student to play for you so that you can place the student at the correct level.


2. Be well prepared and ready for anything. Make sure your teaching space is neat and free of distractions. Have many levels of music on hand for the student should he show up without any music to play.


3. When potential transfer piano students first enter the studio have the student sit beside mom or dad while you sit at the piano. Take this time to get to know them a little. I always ask how long the student has been playing, how much practicing they are normally doing and most importantly whether or not they enjoy playing the piano. I want to make sure the student feels at ease and not as though they are at an audition.


4. Be ready to play something yourself. Parents love this! A nice, short but flashy piece is sure to impress both student and parent and set you up as the expert.


5. At some point, it is time for the new student to play something for you. Ask him to play something he likes and knows very well. Be sure to point out all of the good things you see and hear. Does he have great technique? Perfect rhythm? Does he sit up straight and tall? I am sure you can find something good to say. After that, do some teaching. Dive in and show your stuff. Parents want to get an idea of your teaching style and your expertise.        Read the post about “Sight Reading”


6. Refrain from asking questions about the previous teacher or criticizing his or her pedagogy (or lack thereof). Keep everything positive. You will have plenty of time to remediate problems and teach new concepts later.


7. Assuming things go well. Five or so minutes before the end of the lesson be sure to book the next appointment. Now is the time for them to sign up. Have your schedule ready, any parent materials you want to give them including your studio policy. If mom or dad is not prepared to pay your monthly or semester fee at that moment let them bring it to the next lesson. There is always a chance they may not come back but you have a much better chance of getting the student if they have an appointment set up. Read the post “10 Ways to Make Your Piano Studio More Profitable”


8. During the second lesson, it’s time to get to work. My number one most important tip for working with transfer piano students is, always assign repertoire that is about two levels below where you think they should be playing. There are two reasons for this; first, most transfer students have some gaps in their learning and second, it is much better to speed through some easy music and boost a student ahead then it is to have to pull back and assign an easier piece. Working through some easier music builds confidence and gives the student a chance to review some skills and fill in some gaps while having to step down to something easier is discouraging.


9. As you work with your new student you will discover her strengths and areas that need to be worked on more. You will most certainly find things that you would have done differently than her previous teacher. I recommend reserving judgment and gently steering your new student in the direction you would like to see her go.


10. Keep an open mind about everything. It will take time for you to develop a relationship with your new student. There are many reasons students change piano teachers. Some are wonderfully trained and are coming to you because of a move or because the former teacher has retired. Others have had a bad experience with a teacher or may have been dismissed from a teacher due to a lack of practice or some other situation.

I hope that these tips will be helpful when getting started with transfer piano students. I have had many over my years of piano teaching. By and large, they are a pleasure to teach and do very well. I find that I am challenged and learn a lot from each and every one.

Thanks for reading. If you like this post please share it. To download hundreds of pages of free music and resources for your piano studio join Paloma Piano’s forever free Gold Membership


If you like this post check out my book,

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”


Ideas for Keeping Online Piano Students Over the Summer

Summer is coming, and it’s a tough time of year for piano teachers even when we are not going through a global health crisis. I (along with many others) am concerned about students dropping out of piano lessons for the summer and maybe leaving altogether. I did some research and put together a plan to try and retain students.

Stay Connected

I want my students to know that I really care about them. Everyone is feeling isolated these days. So, making an extra effort for some social time seems to make sense.

1 – When I log on to teach a lesson, I give my students and their parents a little time to talk. I make it a point to ask them how their day is going, and how their week was.

2 – Host a group. Every other Saturday I have been hosting a piano party on zoom. It’s free and the kids and their parents love it. I do too!

3 – Send a postcard in the mail. One teacher I know is doing this and her students really appreciate it. I plan to give this a try.

Include Some Variety

Variety may be the spice of life but during online lessons it’s essential. Online lessons require students to be more independent which can be more mentally taxing. I want to make sure my students are feeling relaxed and having fun.

1 – Take a break mid-lesson. About 15 minutes into the lesson I have the kids play a game watch a short video, play a name that tune game or do some flashcards.

2 – Take a few minutes to learn some music history, tell an interesting story about a composer or the history of a piece of music.

3 – Do something surprising. Tell a joke, do a magic trick, sing or play a silly song. Change it up each week, your student will look forward to seeing what you have in store each week.

See the post Making Online Teaching Easier

Make Sure They are Making Progress

It’s really important that both students and their parents feel that piano lessons are worth their time, effort, and money. Things are uncertain right now. Young families, if they are fortunate enough to be working are working from home while trying to homeschool their children, or they are essential workers which is very stressful. As much as they want to keep things normal and do the best for their children the last thing they need is to have to worry about piano lessons. Therefore, I want to do whatever I can to have things go as pleasantly and as smoothly as possible.

1 – Err on the side of easy. I have a few students who love to be challenged, I can throw anything at they and they will prevail. But for most, I feel that now is the time to make sure the music I assign is something that they can learn without too much trouble. I am assigning shorter pieces that can be learned fairly quickly. This helps keep students motivated and feeling good about what they are doing. Parents appreciate hearing new music more frequently which they tell me is more pleasant than hearing the same piece week after week.

2 – Point out successes. Call attention to everything your students are learning and doing well.

  • They are coming to the lesson on time and ready to go with their music and a pencil and notebook.
  • Good posture/hand position.
  • Attention to phrasing and dynamics.
  • Correct notes and rhythm.
  • Improving focus and attention at the lesson.
  • Learning about music history or music theory.
  • Improving ear training and playing by ear.

You get the picture. Take a moment to speak with parents or caregivers if possible. Send a text or an email highlighting their child’s success.

Here are a few additional ideas that will help students stay connected and highlights their success.

1 – Host an online recital. This is a great way to show parents and students that piano lessons are a valuable part of their lives.

2 – Have your student record a piece he knows and send it to a friend or relative.

3 – Work on some music composition with your student give her parents a beautifully engraved copy of the sheet music. If you aren’t familiar with music notation software, you can find people who will engrave music for you very inexpensively.

Stay Organized

1- Have plenty of music and resources in Pdf format ready to send to your students. I recommend sending plenty of extra music. I know this is a challenge. It is even for me, and I run a music publishing website!

Note: Be sure that you are sending music legally. You must own a studio license to copy and send music that is not in the public domain. This includes arrangements and engraving. For example, Bach’s Two-Part Inventions are in the public domain however, you can not scan Alfred, Schirmer, or any other editions and email them to your students.

You may share the music at Paloma Piano with your own students for as long as you remain a member. Gold members can share Gold level music. Platinum Members can share everything. Your music comes stamped with your licensing agreement so your students will know you are legally sharing.

2 – I have to take notes while I am teaching so I remember who needs what. On Sunday night before I send an email to Paloma Piano teachers. I send out all of the music I think my students may need for the coming week. (No small task.)

There is always free music and resources at palomapiano.com if you are in a pinch (and don’t forget Platinum members get everything.)

3- If your students are buying books, be sure to order in advance. (I am sure you all know this.)

Consider changing the way you charge for lessons.

I know some studios that usually charge for the semester are switching to collecting payments monthly or even weekly. This may be a good idea because nervous families won’t feel as though they have to make a long-term commitment.

If you do have students who say they want to “take a break” ask them why. It may be a problem you are able to solve. If it’s a financial decide that is another matter. Now is the time to decide what you will do in these cases. Unfortunate as it may be the fact is that no matter where you live the economy is probably going to take a hit. Think about what you might do in these cases should they arise.

I will be posting about the topic of students leaving for financial reasons next week.

Keep going teachers, you are doing a noble job. I pray you and your family and friends are safe and well. I know all of you join me in thanking all of those on the front lines bringing us medical care, and essential services.

Visit our sister-site pianoparents.net

Two Great Books!

Free Piano Teaching Games You Can Use Online

Online Piano Games


I am so very heartened by people’s response to the pandemic. So many people are pitching in to help. I want to help too, so I am making all of the printable games at palomapiano.com free until 4/10/20. That’s right, Free piano teaching games you can use online.

All of the free printables can be found at www.palomapiano.com

I know that just about all us are going to online lessons these days and who knows how long that’s going to last? So why not include some games?


Imagine how excited your students will be to receive a colorful printable game in their parent’s email!  

Not only that! Parents will be delighted to see how much fun their child is having.

You will inspire confidence, and thus, retain students!


Lessons over the internet may be different than in-person lessons but that doesn’t rule out fun! My students love games. For preschool students games are essential. For older students, games are a great way to give them a two to three-minute break from the music and reset.


Here are some great games you can play games with your students online including 3 free printables that you can download and send to your students. Many of these are featured in my book “The Ultimate Preschool Piano Activities Book”



 Dice games



You can purchase musical dice, or you can make them yourself.

I make mine out of wooden cubes I got at a craft store. I write musical symbols on each face of the cube.


I use separate cubes for the finger numbers 1 through 5 and R and L for the right and left hands. I write treble and bass clefs on a die. You can also use the dice to practice rhythmic symbols and accidentals.




At the craft store purchase plain wooden blocks. These come in various sizes. Depending upon the size of your teaching space you may want to choose larger or smaller blocks. Use a Sharpie to write on each side of the block.

In the studio, students roll the dice but you can make the dice and roll them and have your online student do the activities.


  1. Fingering Block – Write finger numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and * on each side of the block. (If the student rolls the asterisk, they get to choose which finger to use).
  2. Note Name Blocks – Using two blocks write a letter of the music alphabet on each side. (Some letters will be written more than once.)
  3. Clef Blocks – On each side of the blocks write a treble or bass clef.
  4. Right and Left Blocks – Write and R or L on each side of the blocks.
  5. High-Low Blocks – Write H or L on each side of the blocks.





  1. Have your student roll the dice and find the note.


  1. Roll the dice and find all of the notes with that name on the keyboard.


  1. Roll all three, then find the note with the corresponding finger and hand.


  1. Same as 3 but with treble (high) and bass (low) clefs for high and low notes.


  1. Have your student roll the dice several times, write the notes on a paper or chalkboard and play them in succession.


  1. Roll several dice with note names. Have your student set the dice on the piano music stand play the notes in succession.


  1. Roll the dice and place a bead on each key that has that note name. (Students can use a penny or other small object.


  1. Use the hourglass timer with any of these activities. (The hourglass timer is a small game timer that I use to keep things moving. If you have board games at home you likely already have one.)




Hi-Low Flash Cards

These can be downloaded for free at palomapiano.com


Only one set is needed. Pick a card and place a penny on the corresponding key.

Example; Middle group of two is D





Here are some of the other games you can play using wooden dice.


  1. Have students roll several dice at once and play all of the notes.


  1. Have students roll the dice and write the note rolled on the staff. I use a chalkboard with the staff drawn on with a permanent marker.


  1. Use the dice with the fingering numbers to decide how many times a student will play a certain piece or passage.


  1. Use the numbered dice to decide how many minutes you will work on a given activity during the lesson.




Origami Fortune Teller (2 versions beginning and intermediate).


This printable Origami Fortune Teller is part of the free Online Game Package at palomapiano.com


Download and send one to your student. Have fun doing the folds together. Then your student can play along with you and follow the prompts.

Find it at palomapiano.com



Advanced Beginner and Early Intermediate Students


Students with a bit of experience can play some fun games as well.


Here are a few games I like to play that just use the keyboard.


Name that tune – See how many notes it takes for your student to identify a song. It could be a familiar folk tune, pop song, or something from their repertoire.


Play Back – Start with one note and have your student find it on the keyboard. Add notes one by one, see how many your students can get right. Your student can test you!


Clap back – same as above using rhythm.


Sing Back – Same as play-back except your student sings.



Rhythm Card Deck.


They are so much fun!


Print a set for yourself and have your students print out their own set.


You can play games like battle or concentration.


To play battle each of you chooses a card from the deck, whoever has the higher note value wins the cards. If you get the same note value, turn three cards over and then one up. The highest note value for that card takes all. Keep track by each of you making two plies of cards so that you can count who gets more cards at the end.


Here’s how to play with a regular deck of cards.





Intermediate Students


Intermediate students can play games too!

They can play most of the games above.

There is an intermediate version of the Origami Fortune Teller.


Here are some fun games to play with older students.


Name the composer – This game could be played a few ways depending upon how much experience your students have with music history. You could give some clues about a composer and see if they can guess who it is. You could name pieces and see if your students know the composer, or you could play examples and see if they can identify the composer.


Name the musical period or genre – Along the same lines as Name the composer. Except that you would be playing examples for your student or having them listen to a video or recording.


Join as a Free Gold Member 

I have many more ideas so stay tuned. To access the online materials, you will have to join as a free Gold member and log in. You never have to pay anything, and I don’t sell your information or anything like that. Paloma Piano is supported by a number of loyal Platinum Members.


You will then be on my email list where I will be sharing more materials and information for you as you move forward with online teaching. You will also have access to other free resources including method books and music.


A few last words,


Be confident, you know what you are doing. Online is not much different than in-person your students are paying for your knowledge and expertise.

Have fun, let your students know that you plan to have a great time teaching them online. Take time to stand up and do a crossing the midline activity at the beginning or mid-point of the lesson. Play a game, let the children meet your pet (if you have one) kids love this.


We’ve got this! People are pulling together in amazing ways!


Love to you all!

Here is a blog for piano parents.






Piano Studio Program Statement


In my book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town” There is a chapter about the piano studio program statement. I believe most teachers already have a studio program statement. Teachers know intuitively what kind of studio they are running. I think it can be beneficial to think about this or even take it one step further and put it in writing’


Thinking through your Piano Studio Program Statement will do two things.


  1. It will help you find students that are a good fit for your program.


Teaching students who want to learn what you are teaching makes sense. Piano teachers are all so unique so are piano students. Teaching students who fit with your program helps ensure a successful experience for both of you.


  1. Having a program statement will help you feel organized and confident.


Piano teachers are unique. Knowing that you have thought through what you want to teach and how you want your studio to run will you stay on track. You will participate in the things you have decided are important and take on students who you are going to thrive under your tutelage.



My studio program statement is something I do for myself. I generally do not feel the need to share this with students and parents.


This is my Studio Program Statement each teacher will have his or her own.






  • How would I like my ideal studio look and feel like? Relaxed or competitive?

A relaxed but focused environment. A place where students who want to learn to play the piano can come and learn without stress or judgment. Students who want to learn the piano as a hobby or as a second instrument are welcome as are students who want to learn to play at a professional or semi-professional level. However, all students must practice at home and make progress.


  • What are my hopes for my students?

That each one will have a positive experience studying with me. That piano lessons will enrich their lives. That they will have a life-long love of music.


  • What kinds of things do I consider important for my students to be involved in order to fulfill my Mission Statement?

Students must practice independently at home.

Students must listen to a variety of great music.

Students should participate in performance opportunities (recitals, festivals, school accompanying, online recitals, etc.)


  • Will I have students participate in recitals, evaluations, festivals, and competitions?

Bi-yearly recitals, No festivals or competitions at this.


  • Do I consider it imperative for my students to continue studying the piano over the summer and during other school breaks?

Students are highly encouraged to take lessons a minimum of six weeks during the summer break. If a student will be away lessons can be conducted online or a teacher can be found where the student can study locally.

Students who take the whole summer off may lose their slot for the fall.


  • Am I willing to teach adults? Preschool students? Special-needs students?

Yes, all students are welcome.


  • Will I teach siblings? If so, will I use the same method for each one?

Yes, siblings are welcome. Method and music selections will be determined according to the needs of each individual student.


  • Some students want to take piano lessons just for fun and may not be very motivated about practicing is this acceptable? or would I prefer more serious students?

Every effort will be made to help students establish and execute a workable practice routine.

Students show some effort and make progress. Students who are consistently coming to lessons unprepared, missing lessons and not making progress will be put on the last chance program.

Read about the last chance program – Time to Say Goodbye

Exceptions will be made at the teacher’s discretion for students who may be going through challenging situations.


It’s OK to Make Changes

I reevaluate my studio program statement each year. I may decide to participate in festivals next year as I have in the past or I may decide to focus on teaching adults. The main point is that if I know where I am going, I am more likely to get there and get there with the maximum amount of peace and joy.


If you like the post – Why not read the book

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”


Invite you to browse the website, There are many excellent resources for you and your students.


Teaching Piano When Life is Stressful

No one ever talks about this, but teaching piano lessons can be hard on days when you are stressed, sad or overwhelmed with concerns outside of the studio. It’s difficult to keep your mind on what a student is doing when you are weighted down with personal issues. Watching and listening to someone else play (especially beginning students) takes tremendous mental focus. As piano teachers, we aren’t able to excuse ourselves and leave the lesson. We can’t take phone calls or seem visibly upset during a lesson. We work with children; we must remain calm and cheerful, this can be challenging if there is a lot going on to distract you.

I know a thing or two about teaching during life’s challenging times. Keeping my own mind engaged and free from stress is a tall order on some days. I do my best to have a positive perspective at all times. But I am gloriously human and sometimes have trouble with this. I might be worried about a sick child, an upcoming recital, global warming, the price of tea in China, or anything else. If I let this overtake my mind, my teaching day can become a bit trying. Actually, it will become painfully difficult.

Here are some things that work for me on days where my stress level and concerns outside the studio are high. These ideas may work for you as well.

  • Leave Your Worries Outside

I imagine yourself leaving your troubles outside of the studio. This is your workspace. The ability to leave your outside life and focus on your work will take time to cultivate. If you are struggling more than usual on a particular day, write yourself a note about whatever is troubling you and leave it in another room or in your car. Tell yourself you can read the note and get upset or worry after you are finished teaching.

  • Live in the Moment, Focus on Your Student

Focus on the student. Look at your student—really look and consider the fact that you get to have this amazing person in your presence for 30-60 minutes. Enjoy her! She is unique and special.

I learned something about a from a Zen teacher.  He said to look around and survey your surroundings.  Consider that at this very moment nothing is wrong. Enjoy this moment.  Live in it be present. I look at whomever I am teaching at the moment and try to be thankful that I am able to be the teacher. I choose to be thankful for the impact I have on this wonderful person.

  • Be kind to yourself.

Have some fun!  Pick out a duet to sight read with your student, play a piano game, sing a song, tell a joke. Look at how cute your little ones are.  Have a short conversation with an adult student about the music they are working on. Ask your teens and tweens how their day is going.  Celebrate the work you are doing and be inspired by how far your students have come.

Sometimes a little treat can help. A small piece of dark chocolate can pick you up and boost your mood. The theory is that chocolate stimulates the neural activity in the regions of the brain associated with pleasure and reward.  A hot cup of tea on a cold day or a cool drink on a hot day can make you feel better on days when you need a little extra pampering.

Positive Perspective

Bad days will come and go. As musicians, we are especially skilled in the area of mental discipline. We are better able than most people to leave our worries behind and focus on our work.

This post is taken from the book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town”

Read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. Also available as an ebook or paperback.