Piano Festival

I’ve been a member of the local Music Teacher’s Association for three years now, but I’ve never actually had students participate in their events. School or sickness always got in the way. But this year I was determined to do at least one event, so I worked with my oldest student to compete in the National Federation Music Festival.

Our competition was today, and I was worried. Thursday’s lesson was a bit of a train wreck. And when I asked (out of politeness) if she wanted me to watch her, she said yes. I was hoping she’d say no, because I get so nervous watching my students perform. Couldn’t stand watching my speech kids, either.

I’m half-asleep as I’m writing this, so I’ll just get to it: she played. No memory lapses. A few dynamics I wanted her to use were absent. I need to remind her how to pedal. And she was being adjudicated by a judge with very high standards. Standards that my student must have met, because she earned a Superior rating–the highest possible rating.

I was thrilled. So in honor of this first successful venture into a competitive piano event, here’s a poem about what music can do.

In Commendation Of Musick by William Strode

When whispering straynes doe softly steale
With creeping passion through the hart,
And when at every touch wee feele
Our pulses beate and beare a part;
When thredds can make
A hartstring shake
Can scarce deny
The soule consists of harmony.

When unto heavenly joy wee feyne
Whatere the soule affecteth most,
Which onely thus wee can explayne
By musick of the winged hoast,
Whose layes wee think
Make starres to winke,
Can scarce deny
Our soules consist of harmony.

O lull mee, lull mee, charming ayre,
My senses rock with wonder sweete;
Like snowe on wooll thy fallings are,
Soft, like a spiritts, are thy feete:
Greife who need feare
That hath an eare?
Down lett him lye
And slumbring dye,
And change his soule for harmony.


  1. that is a wonderful story! i can't help but ask, though, as a pianist and someone who has never taught piano, i've often wondered how you can explain or teach pedaling. i'm not even sure i would be able to recognize it being done incorrectly. suggestions?

    by the way – i love your april celebration. it actually made me miss teaching for a bit. just a bit. but april is so close to the end of the school year and poetry can be so fun. kids… they're cool. keep up your good work!



  2. Sarah–teaching pedaling is a pain. I start with the basics: keep heel on the floor. I model A LOT. Make them watch my feet. Slow down the action of pedaling so they can see all the components. Most of my students eventually get it, but it's hard.

    Poetry IS fun! But don't miss teaching too much. I love what I do, but sometimes I wish I had other options.



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