Smart music advice for creative people.
Psychology - Piano - Design

What should you give to your favourite person in the world?

What should you give to your favourite person in the world?

You might have more than one favourite person. They may or may not be musicians.

I for one really appreciate gifts. Research suggests that kids who know how to delay gratification will become high performers.

Can we buy happiness?

On one hand, the key to happiness is in how we spend our money. But research suggests that we should buy moments, not material belongings. Daniel Gilbert says material belongings lose their lustre after a while, but memories of experiences last (almost) forever.

Harvard researchers have also found that spending money on others will boost your own happiness.

Here is my guide to gift giving, especially if you want to give someone a gift in time for Christmas. This list may also be helpful for people who find it hard to shop for musicians, or for musicians seeking gifts for lovers of music.

Keep Reading

Become a Better Stage Performer with Dianna David

Dianna David and Grace Miles

When I arrived to the studio, I deposited my bag on the sofa and took my pants off.

Dianna wasn’t weirded out, so I knew we could be friends. And, chill out, it was raining and I was wearing white pants, so I layered sweats on top.

Dianna David is a movement storyteller, and I love her energy. We first met when she spoke at a TEDx talk I helped organize. Her talk was titled “Have the balls to follow your dreams,” which, before attending clown school and becoming an onstage entertainer, she was an engineer.

If you or your parents have immigrated from another country, you might be interested in this, as Dianna talks about how she got here. (Of course, music isn’t the most conventional of jobs, either, so you can apply this whether or not you’ve immigrated.)

In this video, Dianna, who’s the seasoned entertainer, shares ways to become a better onstage performer, plus, tips for people who want to transition into a creative career.

Keep Reading

Why You Need a Homepage (Right Now)

Grace Miles

The internet is one of the most powerful ways to connect with people because you can control how people see about you and how they act.

It doesn’t matter what you do, or what industry you’re in, psychology works with human brains.

For example, if a well-designed website can help music teachers gain more students, and help pianists sell more music.

Here are a few reasons why you need a home page right now (if you have one, then here’s why you should make sure it’s good).

Keep Reading

Dealing With a Student Who Hasn’t Paid (But is Training for an Important Performance)

Dealing With a Student Who Hasn't Paid (But is Training for an Important Performance)

Take a look at this scenario…

You are a piano teacher.

There is a student you like a lot, whom you’ve been teaching for two months. You first heard her playing at her performance recital– and you were impressed.

The mother is well-connected, and kind, but tough, a lady who knows what she wants and will ask for her change when it’s due.

You’ve agreed on an exchange of services. In fact, when it comes to her child, the mother’s goal is to proceed through life getting things sponsored and keeping the wallet shut when possible, on account of her volatile investments.

But mainly, you said yes because it’s a new experience. You’ve never been compensated this way before, and you think it’ll bring your career forward.

Feel free to use your imagination on how the mother offered to compensate you.

Keep Reading

19 Jazzy Christmas Piano Solos

19 Jazzy Christmas Piano SolosThis year, I’m feeling the big-band! I can’t wait to unveil what I’ve been working on.

In the mean time, I’ve collected 19 jazz-inspired Christmas piano solos. I wish I had time to play all these. Sheet music is linked below (ranging from late intermediate to advanced). Enjoy!

The first pieces are loud and boisterous…

New York, New York

A trombone player should jam with me. (Sheet Music)


Sleigh Ride – arr. A. Gentile

Love this arrangement. Edit: A reader, Susan, sent me the sheet music link! Happy dance. Here’s the mp3 from the Steinway album.

Keep Reading

4 Ways to Move Forward (October Ideas)

4 Ways to Move Forward in Music

My new piano student is quite low-maintenance and I spend virtually no time prepping– which was why I took her in the first place.

My friend Kat says I am entrepreneurial, which I think is a good way to describe about my life right now.

Each month, I will be sharing different ideas from what I am involved in. It won’t be a complete account of everything I am working on, but I hope it’ll be interesting to come on this journey with me and perhaps you can learn from my challenges.

1. Be proud of your brand

I revamped my portfolio because my brand didn’t represent what I was about anymore. I’m happy with it now– I’m convinced that this is the only way a person should feel about their brand. It reflects my values and how I present myself to the world.

If you need to further understand your brand, ask yourself why you are doing what you’re doing, and start from there.

Keep Reading

How I Re-Started Teaching Piano in One Week

Starting with students is different for everyone, and I’m not about to sugarcoat. I’m going to tell you how I jumpstarted my teaching again.

A former student’s mother convinced me to teach piano to her daughter again. I don’t let people into my piano studio anymore, so I agreed to walk to their house each week.

At home, I flip through my piano teaching binder, from back when businesses couldn’t run paperless and I couldn’t manage people without stressing.

These are a few lessons I’ve learned from my last round of piano teaching.

Lesson 1: Have a Fair Studio Policy

Most people don’t intend to take advantage of you. They don’t know that they’re taking advantage if the rules aren’t clear.

When I taught Design Lab, the main policy was, if you weren’t happy with the online course in 30 days, I’d give you 100% of your money back, no questions asked. Only one person has ever asked for a refund, and ironically, the red flag was that she didn’t sign the policy document. I gave her the money anyways.

What a policy does is set the ground rules and lets people trust you. It says that you know what you’re doing enough to set it in stone.

I printed a piano studio policy and arrived 15 minutes early to the first lesson to go over it with the parent. It took 2 minutes for the deal to be signed, and we got our lesson started early. Parents love the extra value.

This is my piano studio policy.

Keep Reading