Saturday, December 23, 2006

How to play "Alone in the Ring" by Bill Conti from ROCKY

With the new Rocky Balboa movie out in theaters, I thought it would be fitting to allow you to look over my shoulder and see how to play this short yet beautiful piano melody composed by Bill Conti for the Rocky movie franchise.

Click on this iTunes button to purchase the piece from the iTunes Store:
Bill Conti - Rocky Balboa: The Best of Rocky - Alone In the Ring

Bill Conti - Alone In the Ring - Sheet Music (Digital Download)
Next time we'll get back to our piano pedagogy podcasts with my piano pedagogy students, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chris Reeves Christmas Medley Duet

Over the next several episodes, my piano pedagogy class at Stephen F. Austin State University will present their own podcast episodes.

In this first episode, Chris Reeves talks about a piece he composed for his student. It is a student-teacher duet featuring familiar Christmas melodies that you may recognize.

I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor - mvt. 3

Here is the final movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 performed by Amy Cheng, pianist, and the Orchestra of the Pines directed by Gene Moon.

If you're viewing the embedded YouTube video here on my blog, this is a compilation of all 3 movements along with the interview with Moon and Cheng. If you want to skip to the finale, click on the 4th thumbnail or go directly to:

If you've enjoyed these performances and are interested in making a donation to the Orchestra of the Pines, contact the music office at Stephen F. Austin State University at

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Amy Cheng & Gene Moon Interview

I interview Amy Cheng, pianist and Gene Moon, Director of the Orchestra of the Pines about the upcoming video podcast of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor.

Amy Cheng holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Yale University School of Music. She has studied extensively with Claude Frank and Wha-Kyung Byun and performed in master classes with Emmanuel Ax, Boris Berman, Leon Fleisher, Murray Perahia, Gary Graffman and Mischa Dichter.

If you're interested in making a donation to support the Orchestra of the Pines or the School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University, please call: (936) 468-4602

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to Basics - Minor Triads and Last Christmas

As a follow up to the last online lesson on Major 5-finger patterns and chords, I go over how to change any major triad to a minor triad. Then we apply that knowledge to play "Last Christmas". The song was composed by George Michael and performed by Wham! The arrangement that I teach is based off a remake done by the band, Jimmy Eat World.

Jimmy Eat World - Christmas EP - Last Christmas
Click this iTunes button to buy the Jimmy Eat World version of "Last Christmas".

If you want to buy the sheet music for the Wham! version of "Last Christmas" from, follow this link:

George Michael - Last Christmas - Sheet Music (Digital Download)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Back to Basics - Major 5-finger patterns and chords

In this special Back-To-School edition of The Piano Podcast, learn how to construct any Major chord on the piano using Major 5-finger patterns. Pull up a keyboard and play along with me!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Melecio Ajero (1933-2006)

I'm going back home to New Jersey, but it's for a reason that I wish wouldn't come. According to my brothers, my dad suffered a stroke yesterday August 9 and passed away sometime around 11:30 p.m. He was supposed to celebrate his 73rd birthday on August 14. It hasn't really hit me yet, possibly because of the geographic distance between us. But I know when I see him for the first time in over a year and also for the last time in my life, the emotions might come pouring out and I might lose it.

I know this isn't a piano-related post, but my dad was really instrumental in shaping me to be the pianist that I am today. He would always push me so hard to practice when I was young, always checking on whether I practiced after he got back home from work or was just messing around. Unfortunately, it was usually messing around, so he'd sit there in the living room and watch me to make sure that I did practice piano. And if he didn't do that, then I probably wouldn't be where I am today. I wish that I was able to actually tell him that. However, he was never one for all that warm-hearted talk. Even though he spoke with very few words, I can tell that he cared for his family by his actions and how hard he worked to provide for us.

Dad was one of the toughest guys I ever knew. I hope that I can exhibit even just a little bit of that character in raising my family.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

GP3 Forum with Tony Caramia

Just finished the Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy (GP3) Forum, and what a wonderful experience it was. I did a presentation on Podcasting during the lunch break of Day one, and I thought maybe 5 people would show up if I was lucky. It turns out almost EVERYONE showed up and squeezed into the piano lab where I was presenting. What was even cooler was the amount of nationally-recognized piano pedagogues who attended my session as well, such as Sam Holland, Sylvia Coats, Andrew Hisey, and Tony Caramia.
Tony Caramia, from the Eastman School of Music, showed a particular interest in podcasting and was kind enough to record an impromptu podcast with me. In this podcast, he treats us to a snippet of "Get Happy" by Harold Arlen on the piano. If you really dig Tony's arrangement and performance, be sure to check out his new solo jazz piano CD entitled "Tribute". You can find out how to get a hold of it on his faculty website at Eastman. Tony's performance is set to photos highlighting the first day of the GP3 Forum. To learn more about GP3, go to
Many thanks to to all the teachers who made my presentation a success, as well as making the whole forum a success.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Piano Duets

In this video podcast, I talk with Kimberly Dreisbach about some of the benefits of piano teachers and students playing duets. I also play some duets with Kimberly and my student, Shawn Chambers, from a new series called "In Recital: Duets" edited by Helen Marlais. The duets include: "Serenade" by Franz Schubert and arranged by Edwin McLean, "Simple Gifts" - a Shaker melody arranged by Kevin Olson, and "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin and arranged by Kevin Olson.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Home Concert Xtreme Demo

In this video podcast, I demonstrate "Home Concert Xtreme", one of my favorite software programs. It is a learning, practice, and performance environment for pianists. It creates a "smart" accompaniment for any general MIDI file loaded into the program. You can download a free demo of the program at:

I created this podcast episode to demonstrate the program not just because I love the program, but also because of some fun discussions with friends on the forums at on using a computer to display sheet music in place of paper.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Podcasting Audiobooks

I wasn't aware that there has been a movement by podcasters to record and podcast audiobooks of literature in the public domain. This was brought to my attention when Brenda Dayne emailed me asking permission to use one of my recordings from Haydn's Piano Sonata in E-flat Major in her podcast of Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence. Brenda had heard my recordings that I posted up on the Podsafe Music Network. She also informed me that when she is done podcasting The Age of Innocence, she will then add it to LibriVox.

Librivox is a website/podcast that provides free audiobooks from the public domain. I think this is an excellent service that they provide to the public. I think the possibilities for musicians (particularly Classical musicians) to have a new medium where they can collaborate with the storytellers of audiobooks is exciting. It's also a great way to familiarize listeners with Classical music pieces when it's presented in conjunction with these Classic novels.

Podshow PDN {podshow-26e6e26b529d7ffcaded51806865fe8a}

Thursday, June 08, 2006

GP3 Forum

The GP3 Forum stands for Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum. This year's GP3 Forum will be held in our own backyard of the University of Oklahoma on August 3-5, 2006. It is a relatively small conference when compared to MTNA. However, it is more focused on topics directly related to piano pedagogy and group piano.

This will the third time that this forum takes place. It will be the first time that I attend. I originally wasn't sure if I was going to be around during those dates because of the move, but it looks like I won't be moving until right after this GP3 Forum. I'm excited about it because it will be a perfect opportunity to receive and share some tips with fellow pedagogy and group piano teachers from around the country. I think it will really help energize me with fresh new ideas as I take up my new responsibilities at Stephen F. Austin State University.

If you plan on going, make sure you register before June 15 as that's when the early-bird registration fee expires. You can register online at

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How to Play Trouble by Coldplay on Piano

By popular demand, here's another video podcast piano lesson on how to play the song "Trouble" by Coldplay. I also answer email and comments from the first Coldplay piano lesson podcast.

If you find the lesson helpful, below you will find links to buy recordings and sheet music for the song "Trouble" from iTunes and Buying music from these links will donate a small portion of the sales to me, your friendly-neighborhood piano teacher!

Coldplay - Parachutes - TroubleBuy Coldplay's Trouble from iTunes for $0.99

TroubleBuy the music video of Coldplay's Trouble from iTunes $1.99

Click here to buy the Coldplay Parachutes music book which contains "Trouble" from

Click here to buy the Coldplay Parachutes digital sheet music which contains "Trouble from

These links were made through LinkShare.
I think I prefer to use this because I have more control over what is displayed and only show products that are related to the podcast and endorsed by me.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 and a new job

I'm happy to welcome Hugh Sung from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as a subscriber to the Piano Podcast!

I came across his blog/podcast recently and discovered we shared similar interests in technology, music, and podcasting. I was particularly flattered by his comments in a recent post that he made where he stated that I was added to his podcast playlist and how much he enjoyed the group piano video podcast episode with Julie Knerr.

Hugh invited me to be interviewed on his podcast in the future through the magic of audio chat software (likely going to use the Gizmo Project application).

I probably won't be able to do anything with that until June as I'm tied up with an online course that I'm teaching for the University of Oklahoma intersession these next few weeks. Plus, I'm happy to officially announce that I accepted a job with the music school at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas! I'll be Coordinator of Class Piano and Piano Pedagogy. Needless to say that I'm excited and grateful for this opportunity. So if you're looking to major in music and piano or piano pedagogy, then consider Stephen F. Austin State University! Maybe I'll see you in class!

Hugh also obliged me by putting his pin in my Frappr map. So if you haven't added your pin yet, go ahead and add it today!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

MTNA Podcast Presentation 4 - Video Podcasting

Wow! It took over a month, but we've finally reached the end of my MTNA presentation on podcasting. In this last part, I cover video podcasting in music education, talk about copyright issues, and the alternative of using "podsafe" music from the Podsafe Music Network.

I hope that viewers and attendees found this presentation to be helpful and informational. My main goal was to inspire other musicians and music teachers to start their own podcasts. If I was successful in this endeavor, I would be happy to hear your story and share it with others.

Duration: 14:02
File Size: 59.9 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Update: I'm putting the YouTube playlist of all 4 parts of this presentation on podcasting in this blog entry, so that it ties everything nicely together!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Random Access

Yesterday I had my first multiple-person video iChat conference with Shana Kirk and George Litterst...sort of. As you can tell from the photo here, we weren't successful getting George's video working for some reason. Shana suspected that it was a Comcast problem or the fact that George has so many shareware and freeware programs on his computers! Nonetheless, George was still able to connect with us in voice and spirit. It was neat how George was at home in Massachusetts, I was at school in Oklahoma, and Shana was at a hotel room in California.

The reason that we "got together" was that it was agreed that we would all be contributing to the "Random Access" column in American Music Teacher Magazine. George has been writing the column for the past 5 or 6 years which appears three times a year in American Music Teacher (AMT). Shana and I are now on board with what I suppose is the new "Random Access Team". For those of you not familiar with Random Access in AMT, it is a column devoted to technology-related topics in music education. Hopefully if any subscribers to this magazine are reading this, they will email me, Shana, or George to give some feedback or a wishlist on music technology topics that they want covered. We threw around some good ideas during our video iChat yesterday, so it should be an exciting experience to say the least.

Next time will be the conclusion of the MTNA Podcast Presentation series. The last part covers video podcasting in music education.

A special hello to all the people who put their pin on my Frappr Map during the month of April: Matt from Tennessee, Robert from the Netherlands, Philip from Germany, Andy from Pennsylvania, Mark from Chicago, Charmaine in Milwaukee, Jon from Wisconsin, Sono from Mexico City, Karlo from Calgary, Natalie from Kansas, Glen from Georgia, and Rafael from Massachusetts.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

MTNA Podcast Presentation 3 - GarageBand Demo

This was probably the most interesting part of my podcast presentation from MTNA. Part 3 covers how to record audio and enhanced audio podcasts in GarageBand 3. I also discuss other applications for PC and Mac for recording podcasts. I was most appreciative of the lively audience's participation in this segment.

The next video podcast will be the conclusion of this MTNA series. After that, I'm hoping to get to some more online lessons along the lines of the Coldplay-Clocks episode. I've been receiving a lot of emails from viewers who had some special requests, and I will try to accommodate the requests as best as I can! Keep the emails coming!

Duration: 13:39
File Size: 79.8 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

MTNA Podcast Presentation 2

This is Part Two of my presentation on podcasting from the 2006 MTNA National Conference in Austin, TX. I cover how to listen to and subscribe to podcasts through iTunes and other resources. I also discuss educational uses of podcasting.

By the way, we now have TEN people who put their pin on my Frappr map. Thanks to all the guys (and 1 gal!) who put their pin in. If you haven't put in a pin, make me feel special and add yourself to the map!

Duration: 14:09
File Size: 80.9 MB (Sorry, another big one!)
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

MTNA Podcast Presentation 1

This video podcast comes from the 2006 MTNA National Conference in Austin, TX. This is from my presentation on podcasting in music education. Part One is an introduction to podcasts and RSS feeds. Stay tuned for the rest of this presentation to be video podcast over the next couple weeks.

Duration: 14:38
File Size: 83.1 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

MTNA Enhanced Podcast

This enhanced audio podcast comes from the 2006 MTNA National Conference in Austin, TX. I speak with Fanchon Charnigo and Ryan Ashley to discuss their conference experience. I interview Shana Kirk from Timewarp Technologies about Home Concert Xtreme. I also catch up with Charmaine Siagian from Willis Music. Keep in mind that there are synchronized images and hyperlinks through this enhanced podcast. If you don't see them, make sure you install the latest version of iTunes and Quicktime onto your computer for free. Don't forget to add your pin to my Frappr Map!

Duration: 19:26
File Size: 19.8 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Enhanced Audio Podcast (.m4a)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Group Piano Ideas with Julie Knerr

In this video podcast, I interview Julie Knerr about successful group piano activities that she uses in her studio. She shares video clips of her students to illustrate.

This is one of the largest video podcast files I've made at close to 90 MB. I hope you're patient and give it a chance to download. I think it's worth the wait.

If you use any of these activities with your piano students, let us know how they work out!

Duration: 14:42
File Size: 87.1 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

How to Play Clocks by Coldplay

In this video podcast, I show how to play the piano part to the song, "Clocks", by Coldplay.

Duration: 4:34
File Size: 24.1 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Update: As of August 1, 2006, the YouTube version of this video podcast has received over 10,000 views and has been favorited 176 times. Pretty cool. Of course, when I see that other videos are up in the hundreds of thousands of views, then it's a bit more humbling. Nonetheless, this is by far the most popular podcast episode of the bunch. Hopefully once I get settled into my new job and home, I'll be able to do more followups to this.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Group Piano 4 Harmonization Video

This video podcast shows me teaching a Group Piano Level 4 Class. We work on harmonizing a melody by ear. The melody in this case is "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings. Feel free to leave comments or suggestions on the blog, or pull up a keyboard and play along if you want!

Duration: 11:45
File Size: 56.32 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Copland Piano Sonata VIDEO Podcast

As a followup to the last enhanced podcast on the Copland Piano Sonata, this video podcast is a recent performance that I did of the first movement. I hope you enjoy it!

Duration: 9:00
File Size: 52.28 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 Video Podcast (.m4v)

Click here to buy Copland's Piano Sonata from

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Copland Piano Sonata Enhanced Podcast

Here's my first attempt at an Enhanced Audio Podcast courtesy of the new podcasting tools that come with GarageBand 3.

I take a closer look at the first movement from The Piano Sonata (1939-1941) by Aaron Copland. I talk a bit about its structure and history.

I don't know if this format is very browser friendly, so it's recommended that you listen/view this through iTunes 6 and be sure to have Quicktime 7 installed.

Duration: 18:04
File Size: 17.25 MB
File Format: MPEG-4 AAC Enhanced Audio Podcast (.m4a)

*Update: After some technical difficulty, the support team at the host server of The Internet Archive has worked to get this enhanced podcast to download properly through podcatching software and in web browsers with Quicktime. Many thanks to them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Practice for Musical Styles Exam 2

Here's another listening quiz for those of you preparing for the musical styles exam in a couple weeks. I play through four different excerpts and see if you can name that tune or at least make an educated guess on what time period it comes from.

Duration: 12:16
File Size: 11.4 MB
File Format: MPEG-3 Audio Podcast (.mp3)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Practice for Musical Styles Exam

I play 3 different musical examples to help doctoral students preparing for the musical styles section of the comprehensive general exam.

I got this idea of doing a classical music quiz from The EdTech Musician podcast.

I'll be doing a presentation on Podcasting in Music Education at the 2006 MTNA National Conference in Austin, TX. My podcasting presentation is on March 28, and I'll let you know more details as we get closer.