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March 2020

Notes from M&J


What a month March has been so far! At the beginning of the month, few of us could have imagined staying home full-time to contain a pandemic. Thanks for your flexibility as we migrated our lessons to an online format! We're so grateful to see our Music Makers every week via Skype and FaceTime, and we hope that music will bring joy into your lives in this challenging time. One silver lining? All this has been an opportunity to grow as teachers in a new medium.

Stay tuned as we navigate the months ahead. We're already brainstorming virtual group lessons and recitals, if need be. Stay healthy, and enjoy this time with your loved ones at home!

Melia & Justin

Zooming In


As I reflect on my own musical journey, it seems like 75% of learning to play an instrument is learning how to practice. Practicing is not just about the amount of time we put in, but also about the quality of our focus and attention during our practice session. One of the best ways to make our practice time count is "zooming in" on problem spots—that note we keep missing, the fingering that never seems to stick, the transition that always catches us off guard.


Once we notice our mistakes, we can turn our attention to fixing them, rather than playing through the entire piece and reinforcing that mistake. At Yellow Door, one of our core learning objectives is Life Skills, and the critical thinking and problem solving skills we develop through independent practice will help our Music Makers long after they've forgotten their spring recital piece.

So what does "zooming in" on a mistake or challenging passage look like?

  • Identify the mistake or challenge.

    • "I consistently miss this note in the RH at measure 17!"​

  • Brainstorm possible reasons the mistake is happening or analyze the difficult elements of a passage.

    • "Hmmm... I wonder if it's because I'm moving from a white key to a black key, and my hand is not far enough into the keyboard to play it?"​

  • Propose a solution for the problem.

    • "Maybe if I move my hand further into the keys before I need to play that black key, I won't miss that note when I need it?"​

  • Try out your solution!

    • If it worked, practice it several times to help your brain remember.​

    • If it didn't work, imagine another solution, or try to see the problem differently.

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"Zooming in" on mistakes and challenges helps to focus our attention and make our practice more rewarding!

Practice Tip

March's Practice Tip

In the midst of a pandemic, it seems that routines are always in flux. As you decide what each day will look like at your house, set aside time to practice the piano. While it might feel like hard work to carve out that time, the incremental, daily progress towards your music-making goals is worth it!

Piano in the News


Stay tuned for updates on our studio schedule as we continue navigating life in a pandemic.

We still plan to have Spring Break (no private lessons) during the week of April 6-10.



Check out how music is bringing Italians together in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic!



Student Spotlight


Follow us for news about the studio; you may even see your own student’s skills on display!


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Congratulations to Justin's student Jackson, who performed in a masterclass with Dr. Helen Marlais at The Gilmore Education Department's KeysFest last month. He performed "One Special Moment" by Martha Mier.

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