Practice Goals Contest

The first week of fall lessons, we begin a practice goals contest that continues until the Spring Recital. Each student who records and reaches prescribed practice goals each week is given a punch in his card. The exercise in diligence and discipline produces a winner or winners who receive an engraved trophy at the Recital. Not all students need this kind of motivation to meet practice goals, but it does work for those who are reward-oriented and makes a difference in the overall approach of goal setting.

Rhythm with Graphics on Roland digital piano

I have connected the digital graphics to a flat screen TV mounted just above the piano. Students must keep their eyes up instead of looking at hands. The colorful graphics that cross the screen as the horizontal score rolls by enable the student to see exactly how long each sound is with relation to the others. Two quarter notes can be held to exactly match the length of one half note, and so on. A chord with several notes can clearly be seen as held evenly and noticed when one or more fingers lets go prematurely. A staccato is a tiny dot on the score so that if in a series, one is too long, the indicating line will be longer than the others. The concepts are easily shown in an entertaining way and students are riveted to the bright colors.

Roland RM 700 Digital Piano

My new RM 700 digital piano is opening up lots of new possibilities for learning and creating music. I am just beginning to understand it features and anticipate using this frequenting in my teaching. Along with my Yamaha Grand piano, I feel that my studio has diversified opportunities for all levels and interest areas. The rhythmic and harmonic accompaniments are incredibly numerous; the ability to record original scores, save and print opens the door to composing; the animation and visual features are delightful and riveting to the students. As I discover attributes, I’ll post them.

1. Recently I have learned to create a digital copy of an original composition, transfer it via USB port to my computer and print out the sheet music. My students are enjoying the possibilities of making their compositions come alive in sheet music form. It has opened a new kind of curiosity and creativity for my students.

2. The Animation effects are fascinating to my students. We have played with the various options and really like the vertical and horizontal staves that used colored shapes, long and short and the rhythm requires. Great addition to rhythm study.

Flash Card Races

Flash card races will take place this week and next. Each student is timed for one minute, both saying and playing the note presented on flash cards. They can “pass” if taking too long.The goal is to recognize notes as quickly as possible.

I take the better score from two tries and give a prize to the winner of each of three categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

The “races” seem to make the students spend more time on the cards and increase their instant recognition of notes. And it’s fun to have a contest with rewards.


tips and techniques

I note hand positions and respond something like, “Those are pancake hands. That’s for breakfast, not for piano playing.” It’s funny but makes a point.

An interesting way to work on scales is to try to balance a deck of cards on the hand while playing. This requires finger crossing without tipping the cards. It makes scale drills a game.

When a student is guessing at a note and looks up at me for a “yes or no,” I say, “Do I have notes on my face? If I do, I’d better go wash my face.” They laugh and realize that I’m not going to give away a chance for them to figure it out instead of guess. Guessing will never create a proficient note reader.

Halloween Recital

Our first Halloween Recital was a spooktacular hit. Forty-eight performers and their teacher were all in costume. Everyone enjoyed the treats and party favors. This will probably become a tradition.

Scroll Down to the bottom of this post to see the 2nd part of the recital video!

Spring Recitals 2011

Two recitals were held on May 22, 2011 at the First Baptist Church at 9th and Trinity. A total of 60 students performed carefully chosen solos, as well as various duets with parents, siblings and friends. There were no duplications so the programs were varied and entertaining.

Awards were given for Consistency of Practice, April Flash Card races,  and recognition was given to those  who participated in the ADMTA theory tests.  Those students receiving theory awards are Evan, John and Aubrey. There was a 3-way tie for  First Place Practice Awards:  Saira, Zayd and Tucker.  All three received personalized trophies.  Flash card races were in 3 catagories: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Sophie won the Beginner; for Intermediate, there was a tie between Tucker and Elena, and Holly won the Advanced. These students received wooden plaques with brass inset.

Eighteen students who participated in the Guild Auditions on May 17th  and 24th  were recognized and presented pins, critique sheets and certificates. The following students played 2  memorized pieces for a judge: Luke, Ella, Madison, Elena, Malli, Evan, Camille, Vivienne, Nitin, Kalyani, and Avery.  These played 3 or 4 memorized pieces: Chinmay, Maggie, Aubrey, Boomer, and Tucker. One student, Noah, played 10 pieces. Every score was a Superior Minus or better. A job well done.

Photos and videos of the Recital will be posted soon.

Parents, if you would like to purchase a professional DVD of your child’s performance, see the links below.


Here is an example of how the video will look:

Christmas Ornaments

As a seasonal business, I create entirely handmade ornaments from wood. The wide variety of styles are personalized with names, dates, and more.  When I heard the DJ’s on Majic 95.5 talking about their love of ornaments, I called to offer a couple of mine for their collection.  Yesterday I went by the studio to deliver them, and was overwhelmed with their enthusiasm and gratitude. Today I am on Kim Stewart’s blog with a photo and mention of my website. 

A couple of my music ornaments are below, but there are many more.  Please contact me for more photos and info.

“She makes these by hand and it’s just so awesome. Thanks Marty!! ”

Majic 95.5 » Kim Stewart   Kim’s Baby Ornament
                                                        She makes these by hand and it's just so awesome. Thanks Marty!!         
 Alex’s Ornament – NO – L


Student and Parent Testimonials

I welcome and encourage comments from current and former students.  Suggestions will only create a better program.

Marty McAllister teaches private piano to many of my students. They all LOVE her, not because she is easy on them. She actually teaches young students how to play the piano, not just practice exercises. I am proud to say I HIGHLY recommend Marty! Melody A. Long Music Specialist Bryker Woods Elementary School Austin, Texas


Marty is a wonderful piano teacher! She teaches theory and technique with a nice mix of classical music and enough stuff to keep my two children interested. She is encouraging and demanding at the same time and my children adore her. Whenever my kids play, people inquire about their teacher—a compliment to Marty.  Carol Brookhart


We have been taking lessons with Marty for 3 years. She is patient and enthusiastic and can adapt her teaching style to all different personality types. A true professional.       Holly Wiese