Discovering Peace and Prosperity

I am so honored and excited to present this guest post from my friend and colleague Sarah Buckley, owner of Keys to Success. In addition to being a piano teacher, Sarah uses her business and organizational know how to help musician entrepreneurs to who are discovering  peace and prosperity.

Discovering Peace and Prosperity

By Sarah Buckley

As musician entrepreneurs, we are specially equipped. We have been trained to practice long hours, always look for improvement, and appreciate the sweet joy of music every day. On the flip side, we are often also trained to be accustomed to long, crazy busy days, last minute changes, and sacrificing for our art. Some of this training is amazing for running a business. Some, not so much.

Last year, I applied my hunger for constant improvement to big life changes. You might be able to relate to feeling like you have to choose between a balanced family life with a ‘9-5 job’ or following the call of music and resorting to a less balanced family life. With the help of a mentor, I set out to follow my call AND create balance.

“Tiny hinges swing huge doors.” – Ray Edwards

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Time to Say Goodbye

How and When to Let Go of a Piano Student

Ashley is an eighth-grader and she’s one of my favorite students. She’s been coming to lessons every week for the last five years and had been doing pretty well. Until lately. She missed a few weeks of practicing…and then a few more. It’s been taking her forever to learn a new piece. I’m finding myself looking for easier and easier music for her to play, and trying to find ways to motivate her. Nothing is working. Time is going by. There’s no denying it. We’re going backward, and we’ve been going backward for the past year. I’m losing her. It’s time to say goodbye.

Continue reading “Time to Say Goodbye”

Free Piano Sheet Music

The other night I desperately needed to print out a simple version of “Amazing Grace” for a Tuesday night choir rehearsal. I know that this song is in the public domain so I figured it should be no problem to find the free piano sheet music, print it out, make some copies and bring it to choir practice. Actually what I found were several sites that claimed to have the sheet music, however in order to download the music I needed to click on a green button and install a “PDF Converter”. I was in a hurry… so I did it. Big mistake! I ended up with all kinds of junk on my computer. Anti-virus, malware, who knows? All I do know is that I never was able to get the “Amazing Grace” music. What I got was a slow computer instead.

This got me to thinking… I have a free piano sheet music website, maybe some people think that I have this kind of stuff on my site. I don’t. If you want to get “Paloma Piano’s” music all you have to do is join our email list. The music is already in PDF format so you just have to download and print it. It’s legal, as I own the copyright to all of the music on the site.

I decided to do some research and see how many how many truly free piano sheet music websites there are out there. I looked for sites that didn’t have the PDF converter button or ask for a credit card to get piano sheet music. I included sites that give you a good amount of free piano sheet music even if there is some music that you have to pay for. I looked for websites with music that teachers could use right away with their students. This means that the site had to offer complete pieces not just samples of pieces. Most importantly, I only included music that can be legally downloaded. Here’s what I found;

Free Music Websites.

      1. “IMSLP” stands for International Music Score Library Project. This site has complied almost all of the public domain classical music you can imagine. They have works for piano as well as all other instruments and many ensembles. “IMSLP” is a tremendous resource for musicians. Everything is free and in PDF format ready to print out. There is a “Donate” button on the site. The engraving varies and some of the scores available from “IMSLP” are better than others.
      2. Similar to “IMSLP” “The Mutopia Project” has a lot of public domain classical music for free download. Most of the scores are Editions Peters and all of the ones I saw looked very nice. Some of the older music such as the “Bach Inventions” did not include piano fingerings in the sheet music.
      3. This website by Swedish composer/music teacher Peter Edvinsson is really nice. The music is super and there is a lot of free piano sheet music you can use with piano students of all levels. The website features Edvinsson’s original compositions as well as arrangements of folk songs and Christmas music. He also sells piano music by other composers through sheet music plus. Note: when I clicked on the URL to this site it seems to have added a green download button However I was able to scroll down and click on the individual pieces which came up in PDF format. Don’t click the green button!
      4. “Piano Play It” offers lots of free piano sheet music that piano students can play. There are different levels of music offered on the site. I really like that the “easy” music really is easy. To access the music you have to join the email list, but after that it is easy to download what ever you like. “Piano Play It” also sells various courses for people who want to learn to play the piano at home.
      5. I used this site when I need music for church. There is not a lot of piano solo music on the site but there is piano/vocal music available as well as music for other instruments and ensembles.
      6. “Piano Street” offers a free silver membership. This membership allows you to download and print public domain classical piano music. For a yearly fee you can access all of the music on the website which is very nicely edited and very comprehensive.
      7. Composer Edward Weiss has a website called “Quiesence Music”. He calls his music New Age Music and his website is created for people who want to learn to play beautiful piano music by watching his videos. The music is easy to learn and very motivational for students. At Blogspot he offers the sheet music of his pieces. He is very generous with his offerings. “Quiesence Music” is geared toward people who want to learn at home. I especially recommend this for adult piano learners.
      8. Of course I had to include my own website. This site features method books and educational materials as well as supplemental pieces for beginning through intermediate piano students. You have to join our email list to gain access to the music. There are hundreds of pages of free piano sheet music on the site. If you are not already a member;


I am really excited about all of these websites. Of course, composers need to earn a living and websites take money to run so please look at what these generous website owners are selling. If you like a websites’ content go ahead and donate or become a paying member. Share the site with your colleagues and on your social media. I hope this post will help you in running your studio. Thanks so much for reading!

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Playing Piano Over the Summer


I posted this article about why students should continue playing piano over the summer last year I am reposting it with a few changes. Feel free to share it with you student’s parents or send them over to piano where I have a similar post about playing piano over the summer.

I had a conversation with a guitar teacher friend the other day and the subject of summer vacation came up. I asked him how his summer teaching usually goes. He admitted that summers are usually very slow and that he wasn’t looking forward to summer vacation at all. I would have to say that most studio teachers (myself included) share that experience. Which leads me to the question, should students take the entire summer off of music lessons?

My answer would be a resounding no! Here’s why;

1. Summertime is a time when students can really focus on practice without the pressures school.

2. Piano practice is a better pastime, than television and video games.

3. Children actually have the time to practice more and add new music to the repertoire list,
learn new skills or try a new piano method.

4. Taking summer off not only results in students failing to moving forward with their playing,
they actually lose skills and forget pieces.

5. Most kids who take the summer off usually DO NOT practice on their own.

6. Eight to ten weeks of not practicing results in a loss of skills acquired during the school year.

7. Your teacher likely has more time to devote to your child during the summer.

8. Summer is a time when parents also have more time to be involved in their child’s piano education.

9. This is your teacher’s job He/She probably wants to work during the summer.

10. Most accomplished pianists always took lessons over the summer. I’ll bet your teacher did.

If you are going to be away all summer arrange for your child to take lessons anyway.

Bring a weighted keyboard with you to your summer home. Arrange Skype lessons with your teacher or find a local piano teacher to work with your child.

If your teacher will be out for the summer, ask for a referral. We all know other teachers. I would be thrilled to have my students continue over the summer with a colleague. This is a well-accepted practice in the piano teaching business. My friends refer summer students to me and I always send them back to their teacher when summer is over.


If your teacher gives summer intensive classes or summer camps why notice advantage? These summer programs will boost your child’s playing to the next level.

Summer is a tough one for piano teachers and students. We all need a break! especially parents! Take a vacation enjoy the beach and the park, but try to continue playing piano over the summer. You won’t regret it!

Yes, Students should continue playing piano over the summer!

Parents, Teachers

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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The Piano As a Second Instrument

Learning the Piano

The piano isn’t just for pianists. Why not consider the piano as a second instrument? Did you know that the world’s most popular instrument is also the world’s most popular second instrument? That is, more musicians choose the piano above any other instrument as a second instrument. In fact, at music schools and conservatories, the piano class is mandatory. Because musicians know that there are some things about the piano that just make it an indispensable tool for anyone interested in music. In high school, I sang in the chorus and I also played the violin in the orchestra. I loved both of those instruments but it was always the piano that captured my imagination.

For one thing it is just so versatile, pop music, jazz, classical,
show tunes, you could play anything on the piano and what’s more, you
could play with others or by yourself. All of your music friends
always needed an accompanist especially the singers. You could even
sing and play by yourself like Billy, or Elton (in your dreams). But
there was one other really cool thing about the piano, it seemed that
the guy who played it was always the smartest guy in the group.


ball notes pubdo


This is not to disparage other
musicians in any way… at all. As a half-baked, mediocre violinist
I can tell you how hard that instrument is to play. And
sight-singing is certainly not for the faint of heart. What I am
trying to say is that the piano player always seemed to know what was
going on and be able to pull it all together. Now that I am that gal
I think I know why.

Reasons to Play the Piano as a Second Instrument

It has to do with the way the piano is
set up. The 88 keys are all laid out in a logical pattern. We
pianists can literally see the topography of music before our eyes.
The black and white keys are like a map of intervals, scales, and
chords. These are all of the things that make music make sense.
Learning some piano basics is helpful, if not essential for some
people, in the understanding of music. I believe this is the reason
pianists usually excel at music theory. Especially written music
theory. As far as aural theory (listening) goes, while it’s true that
pianists don’t tune our instruments, the piano is a chordal
instrument so we hear multiple notes at one time.

The piano is great for those people
who wish to write music. All of the notes used in the musical
spectrum are covered by the 88 keys on the piano. No matter which
instrument or voice you want to write for, the notes are there for
you to hear and play. That’s probably why composers are always
depicted as having their left hand on the keyboard as the right-hand
scribbles musical symbols upon manuscript paper. This image is a
little bit silly, great composers of the past surely wrote music away
from the keyboard, and no one uses manuscript paper to write music
anymore. I can tell you though, as a composer myself the fastest way
to turn ideas into sheet music is to plug my computer into my midi
keyboard and play the notes onto the staff.

Read the post. “Piano Teaching Games”

Another great thing about the piano is
that it is a very marketable instrument. As an average professional
musician, I am always able to find work playing the piano. There
always seems to be someone who needs a pianist. I can play at church,
parties, and accompany soloists. As a singer, I can’t imagine why you
wouldn’t want to have decent keyboard skills. Not only is it fun to
be able to play and sing, but if you looking to make a career out of
music, being able to accompany yourself doubles your employment
prospects. And as far as private teaching goes, the piano is the
number one most popular first and second choice instrument. A good
piano teacher should always have a full studio.


So there you have it, another case for
taking up the piano. True, I am partial to the piano, though it
actually was my second instrument. I played violin from age eight and
didn’t begin piano lessons until the ripe old age of twelve.
Obviously, I’m really glad I did learn to play, and I invite any of
you who are thinking about trying a second instrument to make the
piano your first choice!

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Starting a Home Piano Studio


Many people aspire to have a home business, After all, what’s not to like? No overhead, no commute, no boss. I have taught piano lessons at music stores, in public school, at my home, and I have traveled to students homes. I really like teaching piano lessons in my home. Starting a home piano studio is not without its challenges but I believe the pros outweigh the cons.


First and foremost, if you are considering starting a home piano studio you need to be able to play the instrument yourself. Decent playing skills and a good knowledge of piano technique, music theory etc, are a must if you want to have a successful home piano studio. I firmly believe that as teachers we should always be learning and growing both as pianists and teachers.
After determining that you wish to teach piano lessons it is important to be sure you are permitted to teach lessons in your home. Where I currently live in South Florida, many homes are in neighborhoods where businesses are not permitted to operate. Be sure to check with your town’s governing board before you get started setting up your home piano studio. You would hate to have 30 or 40 students and then be told that you have to move them to another location.


The next thing to consider is space. Where will the lessons be taking place within your home? To conduct effective lessons you will need a space that is virtually free from noise and distractions. If you live with other people choose a room away from household activity. A spare bedroom, garage room or finished basement are all good choices. A living room can be a good choice as long as it is relatively free from interruptions. You need to have a place for parents and incoming students to sit and wait. (I have personally never had a waiting room and this has always worked out fine). Your home piano studio should be a professional looking space that is inviting and decorated to reflect your life and your personality. Be sure to have places for your student’s parents to park and be sure studio parking does not infringe upon your neighbors.

A Word About Neighbors

Even if you have permission from your community to teach at home, you must have the support of your neighbors. Be friendly and explain what you are doing, Assure them that if there are any problems you will solve them immediately. Invite them to your recitals, remember them at holiday time. Remind your piano families to always be considerate of your neighbors. Disgruntled neighbors can cause big problems for your home piano studio so be proactive, talk to your neighbors, and get off to a great start.


Once you have your teaching space you will need a piano. I like for my students to learn on an acoustic piano whenever possible. Having a good instrument in your studio lends credibility to your business, Do not skimp in this area! get the best piano you can afford. Be sure your piano is tuned and keys and pedals are working properly. Have proper benches, use foot benches for very small children.

Piano Method

Now that you have your place squared away you will need to choose a piano method with which to work. A set of books that you can use to teach people the skills and knowledge necessary to become pianists. There are many fine methods out there but as you are on the Paloma Piano LLC website might I recommend the Paloma Piano Method. This method is skill based and comprehensive, and it’s the only method that allows you as a teacher to become a member and then print the materials your students.

Studio Policies and Other Considerations

When starting a home piano studio. You will also need a Studio Policy that can be signed by both yourself and your student’s parents or whoever is responsible for the lesson attendance and payment (We have some examples here in the Parent Information Book). I always make sure my homeowner’s insurance is up to date and includes “Home Office Exposure”. There are also some tax issues that come with running your own business so check with an accountant for information.
So now all you need are the students. But that’s indeed is another entire blog post. Don’t worry though you are more than halfway there. To quote the movie Field of Dreams “Build It And They Will Come”. Take special care in starting a home piano studio and before you know it the students will be coming in droves.

I hope one day to have a large studio with beautiful studio rooms, and a big room with a grand piano in which to conduct recitals and workshops. But I’m not there yet. I know that some of you are, I would love to hear about all of your teaching situations. Please leave a comment below or better yet send a pic of your studio home or otherwise.

If you are interested in starting your own piano studio check out the resources at


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How To Get More Piano Students and Grow Your Studio



How to Get More Piano Students

If you are just starting out as a piano teacher and dream of having a large, vibrant studio: here are some ideas on how to get more piano students.

Piano Teaching is a Great Job!

If you’re looking for a job that makes a difference in people’s lives, it’s hard to beat teaching. Especially private piano teaching. We have our students for a long time, and we teach them something that they can enjoy for a lifetime, or even pursue as a career. But what does it take to have a great studio? Is it even possible in today’s tight economy? Can’t students just learn to play online? Does anyone really want to play at all anymore?
Sure times might be tough, but fear not! – piano players have been around for centuries, and that’s not going to change. People love music and the piano is the most popular instrument. Research shows that music study is excellent for the minds of young and old alike, There is less music being offered in schools, yet parents want their children to be exposed to music. People of all ages are discovering that they can experience the joy of playing the piano, and the best most tried and true way of doing it is with a teacher, like you! So you can absolutely get more piano students.

I have been teaching the piano since I graduated from college. I also worked as a classroom teacher. I decided to leave my school teaching position and open my own studio in September of 2001. I placed some ads and waited for the phone to ring but, of course, it did not. It took a couple of months after the shock of the 9/11 tragedy to get back to focusing on my business but I knew I had to get more piano students to stay afloat.

Here is how I grew my studio from 0 to 45 students in 2 years;

1. I decided what kind of studio I wanted to have. I decided to focus on teaching children and teenagers, beginner through advanced classical music. I wanted a formal style studio with bi-yearly recitals.
2. I wanted to teach at my home and have 40-50 students. I drew up a schedule with time slots waiting to be filled in with the names of my new students.
3. I created a mission statement for my business.
4, I created a website (not nearly as nice as this one** ) and I posted my contact numbers, qualifications, fees, and pricing for the lessons. (I priced the classes competitively, I did not want to be the cheapest, or the most expensive.)
5. I made business cards and handed them out to everyone that I could.
6, I sent a note to local music teachers making them aware of my studio and offering my services as an accompanist.
7. I put ads in local papers. (I would also recommend church bulletins if they have advertising.)
8. I offered a free introductory lesson and I gave a free lesson to students for referrals.
9. Don’t forget to choose a great piano teaching method! Of course I hope you will choose Paloma Piano online piano method.
This is what I did to get started. In another post, I will discuss how to build upon the successful studio.
I would love to hear how all of you teachers got started with your studios. why not leave a comment?


If you would like a free online method to use in your studio,