Music. Experience it. Live it. Make it.


This is what Dorla’s Piano Studio is all about.  Music.

Sometimes we get bogged down by recital deadlines, practice requirements and performances, but when it comes down to the last line in the score, it’s all about the music.

Experience it.  Of the many ways available to experience music, participating in a group is at the top of the list.  This is one of the many reasons DPS offers group lessons for beginners. It’s fun.  Children play music games, they sing together, they make music together, play for each other and learn from each other.

Live it.  When you wake up in the morning singing “Mouse, Mousie in the Housie”, “There’s a Worm At The Bottom Of My Garden” “Wake Up Pointer Panda” or any of your songs from music class, you know that you are living the music! It might me annoying at times to have a song stuck in your head, but that is exactly what needs to happen in order for you to play it on your instrument.

Make it.  Each and every lesson should be about making and creating beautiful sounds. Even if you are playing only one note at a time – you should make them the best.  No banging! Instead, tell a story with drama and flair.  So what if you can only play Hot Cross Buns! Play it in a way that is unique. Improvise, change the ending, change the key.  Whatever you do…make MUSIC.

No More Dead Composers!



This is was my motto for about a week.

I was trying to find new repertoire to practice and thinking about an audience that would want to listen.  My audience (family, friends, students) seem quite young or not interested in Classical music. A few even believe Beethoven was just a dog in a movie when I mention the name!

That’s when I decided to only practice music of musicians that are alive. John Lunn (Downton Abbey Suite) and Yiruma (White Shadow) were my choices and I have enjoyed every minute of their music.

And now? I feel like I’ve been eating sweets all week.  Downton Abbey is a fine piece of music and the piano score is great.  But it really needs to be connected to the PBS series.  And White Shadows? Well, it is a beautiful piece but it’s missing some meat and potatoes…


So I pulled out Schubert’s Fantasie in f minor (4 hands) and I have the privilege of playing with Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu on my iPhone.  This piece has a lot of meat and potatoes and is a great mix of repertoire with Lunn and Yiruma.

But wait! Schubert is dead! (1828 to be exact…)

As I said at the beginning of this post.  That was my motto for a week!

Intelligence and Music Lessons

Music lessons at Dorla’s Piano Studio involve love of music, love of nature, composition and improvisation.  But did you know that improvisation requires a special kind of intelligence?

First of all, what is improvisation? it is simply creating music “in the moment”, coming up with a new idea “right now”.  Some children are naturally creative that way with music.  Think of your child singing his “own song” based on a song he already knows, or sitting at the piano and making up a tune that you think is really weird.

Dr. Dee Coulter, a renowned Brain Science Educator tells us that “Schools feel driven to produce high test scores and to do that, they coach children on how to take in and understand factual information.  This helps them develop “fixed” intelligence which is great for recalling correct answers.  However, it is not very useful if the challenge is to come up with new ideas, or solve problems that have more than one right answer.  For that, a child needs to develop “fluid” intelligence and the very best exercise for that is learning to improvise.  It asks a child to stay focused, to be aware of the overall form of the composition and then come up with a fresh idea that can fit in!  They key to success with fluid intelligence is “flexible persistence”, a special blend of paying close attention to the form (the persistence part) combined with an ability to think outside the box and come up with a new idea (the flexibility part).  Fluid intelligence lets us think for ourselves and bring new ideas to old problems, so it is usually regarded as the highest form of intelligence we can offer our children”. (from Musikgarten Delivers! Partnering with Parents, Set 3 #3 Please Inspire My Child to Improvise)

Next time Ms. Dorla’s asks you/your child to improvise think HIGHEST FORM OF INTELLIGENCE!

Comprehensive Musicianship at the Keyboard


“The goal of [our group piano classes] is to lead children to true music literacy by means of a comprehensive musicianship course which holistically addresses both the child and the music.  Comprehensive musicianship denotes an appreciation of many facets of music – performance and improvisation (playing by ear, playing from memory, and playing from score); an understanding of rhythm, melody, harmony, and form; and an acquaintance with the historical and theoretical contexts of music.

This method offers children the gift of active and thinking music-making.  Children are offered many ways to express themselves through music- by playing the keyboard, singing, responding to music through dance, and enjoying the community of group music making.  In addition to the joy which comes from making music, they also experience the sheer enjoyment that comes from listening to great music”.

(from Music Makers: At The Keyboard, Year 2 Teacher’s Guide p. 7)