International Piano Week

Issue 5 of The Piano Teacher magazine is due out next month and we are very excited to be launching a whole new look! Sneek peek below!

We are also thrilled to be launching International Piano Week!

Melbourne composer, Sonny Chua has written a piece he describes as a ‘musical smile’ especially for The Piano Teacher magazine.

To ensure you receive your copy of The Piano Teacher in the post (free!) click here to subscribe.

We are encouraging all piano teachers to have their students perform it during lessons in International Piano Week – September 1-7th 2014

The piece is called Umi’s Lullaby and there are so many ways you can use the piece.

  • Play it as a duet with beginner students
  • Use it as sight reading for older students
  • Include it as one of the 40 Piece Challenge pieces
  • Encourage students to improvise with it
  • Write a variation or arrangement and add other instruments
  • Add words or write a story or performance notes about the piece. Answer the question: Who is Umi?

We encourage students to upload their performances to Youtube and include International Piano Week Umi in the title. Then tweet about the performance using #IPWUmi.

Students might like to perform it at a school assembly or in a concert for family or friends.

Music stores might invite students in to perform Umi’s Lullaby on display pianos.

Teachers might contact a local newspaper or radio and give an interview about how your studio is participating in International Piano Week; write a blog about their experience preparing for IPW or upload outstanding or unusual student performances to 

The possibilities are endless!

We will collate a tally of performances heard and report back in Issue 6 of The Piano Teacher magazine.




Sneak peak of Issue 5! Piano Teachers click here to subscribe. It’s free!


The Piano Teacher magazines:

Issue 1

PTM1Issue 2 


Issue 3 PTM003_Cover

Issue 4 PTM_4_Cover (1)

The Challenge is driving them up the wall!

40 Piece Challenge ChristinaPiano Teacher Christina, from Rockhampton sent through a photo of her 40 Piece Challenge wall with this message:

“I wanted to share with you the bit of fun I’m having with my students at the school I teach at.

Our room has 2 walls carpeted for acoustics, so I thought I’d use this to my advantage and design this playing board for the students.

Each student has been given a little character to decorate which is their playing piece for the year.

I have some very creative students!

We are very excited about the challenge and I have some keen beginners who have already moved up the board.”

Thanks, Christina. We look forward to seeing how your students progress.

Mini Jazz by Manfred Schmitz


Mini Jazz Book 1 – 50 Easy Pieces is ideal 40 Piece Challenge repertoire.

This collection features little pieces of jazz designed to introduce syncopations and melodic jazz inflections to piano students still in the early stages of learning.

Hello, Mister MINI, the first piece in the collection, is featured in the P Plate Piano series and Old Movie Man (number 34) is in Getting to Grade One. The final pieces are reaching a Grade 3 standard.

Schmitz introduces a range of jazz gestures in pieces small enough to not be overwhelming. And, with each piece being perfectly interesting, and (if a student hasn’t played much music with syncopation before) perfectly challenging in its own way, more advanced students (Gr 4 – 8) will gain much from learning these pieces too.

20130447 • From your favourite music store



Parental help with the 40 Piece Challenge

We heard from a lovely piano teacher from WA today, who writes about the challenge:

“I did venture into the 40-piece challenge last year (read about it on one of Tim Topham’s blogs) – well, I gave my students a choice of 20 or 30 or 40 pieces – and found there was quite an even spread amongst them of which challenge they undertook (though I did have one little lad who opted for the 20 piece challenge but completed that in 2 1/2 terms and then asked me for another challenge sheet!!)

I asked parents to give their children a little treat/reward at 10, 20, 30 and 40 pieces and asked the kids to make sure they reminded their parents!!”

Irene – WA

Teachers, to encourage suitable musical “rewards” to be given by parents to students, why not assist with a list of repertoire suggestions. Ensure the repertoire is easy enough so that the student and parent achieve instant musical gratification when the book is gifted.

For example, if a child has just completed their 3rd Lesson Book in a series (for example Level 3 of the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library)

Hal Leonard Student Piano Library Lessons Level 3

suggest one of the books from the correlated series, perhaps a Broadway or Popular Collection. Allowing the parent to choose gives them some ownership or the idea and allows them to hear the music that they want to hear in the home.

00296608Broadway  00296033POP 00296325Classical Themes


40 Piece Challenge- How we roll!

It’s great to read how the Challenge is working in piano teaching studios around the world! We love the “playing bank” especially…

Creative. Piano. Professional

For quite some time my studio has run a certificate system for students completing songs. For completing 10 pieces, they received a green certificate, orange for 20, silver for 30 and gold for 40. This was quite an easy achievement for the beginner students with lots of shorts songs being completed.

Then some time ago, Elissa Milne wrote this about the 40-piece Challenge here. Then Tim Topham wrote about it and the Hal Leonard 40-Piece Challenge website was also launched. An article on this was also published in the Piano Teachers’ Magazine here.

40 Piece Challenge

For my beginner students there was no question of their participation in this challenge. It was very close to the system we were already using.

For my late beginner to intermediate students this presented something of a shift in thinking. My students were normally learning 15-20 pieces of repertoire each year, about a year ago…

View original post 629 more words

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Another great source of ideas for 40 Piece Challenge repertoire is the Piano Teacher Magazine.

Issue 4 of the Piano Teacher Magazine is out now and available FREE from your favourite Australian or New Zealand music retail store, or by emailing your request to

Or you can read it online by clicking the links below:

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 4

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 3

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 2

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 1

Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 3Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 2Piano Teacher Magazine Issue 1

Ideas from Ontario

A big welcome to the 40 Piece Challenge to Megan from Ontario in Canada.

Megan writes that as part of her preparation for the challenge she is planning on having a group lesson at least once every 2 months so all her students can play their new pieces for each other – an ideal performance opportunity in a non-threatening environment.

Good one, Megan!

I wonder how many other teachers are engineering special performance opportunities for their students?


Challenge Poster

Donna Lewis 40 Piece Challenge Chart

Donna from Gippsland writes:

I thought people may be interested in our poster, where students can track their progress and that of other students. This will be on display in my studio and I will fill in the name of each piece along with a sticker. last time I did a similar (30 piece) challenge, the poster really spurred students on, especially those who thought they were in with a chance for learning the most pieces!


Great idea, Donna. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Passport challenge

Di Burt from Banksia Beach in QLD has signed up for the challenge and has come up with a really unique idea.

Di writes:

“I’ve just made up my student diaries for 2013 and have included an international passport for each child together with a colourful map of the world.
The passport has 40 opportunities to enter a completed piece – the cost of flying from one place to another. It’ll be fun to see who doesn’t get home in time for Christmas and who gets around the world once in 40 lessons!!!! Just have to hope Brisbane airport can cope with the extra demand for travel”

Di is happy to send any interested teachers her template for the passport. If you would like a copy to play around with and change to suit yourself, feel free to email me at and I will put you in touch with Di.