Happy Mardi Gras, y’all.

It’s been really hectic around here lately because I’ve been doing some major business upgrades.  Plus, it’s Carnival time so it’s just a busy time of year.  Anyway, in honor of one of my favorite holidays, I made quick, free Mardi Gras themed practice chart for students.

From past posts, I also have easy piano versions of Iko Iko and Mardi Gras Mambo available for free download on my site.  They are great for teaching more advanced rhythm such as syncopation (although I tried to simplify the rhythms as much as possible.)

Mardi Gras piano Practice

Mardi Gras Practice Chart

As always, you can find the practice chart and sheet music here.

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Random freebie and how my studio celebrated Valentine’s Day

I hope everyone had a wonder Valentine (or Galentine’s) day this week.  I was going to just share a simple bass clef note reading exercise (saving for another week), but then I ended up with extra interesting stuff because of celebrating the holiday with my students.

So first, I’ll show you the valentines I passed out to my students.  These are courtesy of Joy Morin over at ColorinMyPiano.com.  Joy’s site is a great one for teaching resources, so if you don’t already know it, please check it out!  I added to Joy’s template with some leftover Mardi Gras bracelets that were perfectly suited to the occasion.  My little girl students have been very pleased so far. (Note: I ended up coloring mine in because I was having a printer issue but Joy’s template is colored for you.)

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Second, I used another great resource from Susan Paradis  to create a simple game for beginning young students.  She created this great scavenger hunt where the students hunt for heart shaped cards that have quarter, half note, dotted half notes, and whole notes on the back.  With my 8 year old students (twins), I had them compete to see who could find the most.  At the end, the ones they found only counted if they could name them correctly.  Today with a newly-turned 5 year old who started one week ago, I used the game to have her sort notes that look alike into similar piles.  Then we practiced tapping out the note values together.  Importantly, I didn’t try to explain that this was a quarter note, or that was a half note…instead, I merely lined up the cards into “measures” equalling four beats each and we pointed at the notes as we counted.  She caught on much faster by doing than she might otherwise have so she taught me something today.

My last Valentine’s related activity was created on my own. For adult students, I chose a piece for them to actively listen to and made an accompanying listening worksheet.  For romance, I chose Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 mvt 3:

For the children, I chose a shorter “romantic” piece – Elgar’s Salut d’Amour.  The children’s assignment was to listen to the piece and then draw a picture of what it made them think of or feel.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with!  Maybe I’ll share a few here.  Here’s the piece, if you’d like to listen:

I remember as a child, I had Itzhak Perlman’s recording Bits and Pieces which contained this piece and I loved it from the beginning.  As an early sufferer of anxiety (which I didn’t recognize as such at the time), this piece just made me melt into relaxation when I felt like I needed a quiet moment.  And I still relax when I hear it today.  So perhaps I’ll pass on the love of the piece (and it’s tension-reducing properties) to my students this week 🙂

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It’s officially back…freebie friday!

Dear readers,

I know it’s been a long time since I was regularly posting on this blog, much less sharing my teacher resources.

Well, no more.  I’m back with a vengeance.  This week’s freebie is inspired both by my younger students love of coloring and the adult coloring book craze.


For this project, I took a simple paint-by-numbers image and replaced the numbers with musical symbols.  The symbols included in the exercise are:

  1. quarter note
  2. half note
  3. whole note
  4. eighth note
  5. quarter rest
  6. half rest
  7. whole rest
  8. bass clef sign

To get the coloring page, as usual, please visit my site here.  Navigate to Resources tab > For Teachers and you will see it on that page.  Don’t forget to also download the color code that goes with it!



I hope both children and beginning adults find enjoyment in this.  Let me know if you find it helpful to any of your students in the comments, pls!

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How to Kick The Blues, or, A Chance Meeting with a Living Louisiana Music Legend.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me and, I think, for a lot of people.  One day recently, I had a meeting that was really demoralizing and left me in a total funk where nothing would spark my interest.


Fortunately, the next morning, I had my own piano lesson (a two-hour workout on a Bach fugue, not much time to think about much else) and after the lesson, I decided I would go piano shopping, something I’d been meaning to do for months but just never actually had done. I think I was mainly trying to keep myself busy to distract myself from the doldrums.


At the second store I went into — where I fell in love with a grand piano that I probably can’t afford but very well might buy –there was just the owner, a man I’d known since middle school, and an elderly gentleman hanging out in the corner.  (I knew the owner because he had sold my parents their piano and because he used to let us use his store to rehearse five and four piano arrangements back in high school.)  Anyway, I’m talking to the owner and looking lustfully at pianos that cost more than my car, when the owner introduced me to the elderly gentleman in the corner as a two-time Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee(?).  The man, who introduced himself by his real name, not his stage name, told me about his music and after a minute, I asked if I could record him to share with my students and to preserve a little music history, and he said yes.


Unfortunately, I really wasn’t prepared to do a full-on interview, but I learned a good bit talking to him and managed to have sense to film at least a little of it.  His stage name had been Roy “Boogie Boy” Perkins and he was a singer and pianist in the ’50s.


Here’s a few samples of his music from back then:

Not bad, right? I have a particular weakness for this era in music, so needless to say, I was thrilled.

Here’s what Perkins had to say about his place in music history:


Sadly, I didn’t keep filming because he told me that when he was young, he lived nextdoor to his grandmother who had an old player piano that no one played. One day, he heard Lloyd Price on the radio and decided to try to replicate the sound and found out that he could just play. So his grandmother gave him the piano and that was his start. He didn’t mention ever taking any formal music instruction, just learning from the radio.


He told me his stage name was given to him by some country musician he was playing with (I’ve forgotten the name) and he later added the “boogie boy” part to make it go more with the style of music he enjoyed playing. Over the years, he made music, he also worked as a draftsman, worked offshore on oil and gas rigs, and at some point, became a minister. And, man, did he hate the term “swamp pop.” Now, I’ll think twice when I use it 🙂 [Side note: This man knew Elvis and Cossimo Matassa and other amazing artists of his day.  He didn’t care much for Elvis’ dancing, I think, but said he appreciated Elvis’ gospel recordings.]


After a little prodding, he agreed to play for me, even though he said he hadn’t much played in years. Fortunately, I had enough sense to record it (even if I did record vertically (oops)). Interestingly, he didn’t play his own song but played Lloyd Price, perhaps because talking about his early days playing made him nostalgic?  Hope you enjoy:



I nearly fainted with happiness, so I hope this also lifts your spirits like it did mine!


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Another day, another free worksheet. LMTA Rally Prep A free worksheet.

In Louisiana, there is a great program that gives piano students the opportunity for an end-of-year test. It’s called Rally. The students enter 4 separate parts geared toward their grade level: written test, sight reading, musicianship, performance. The Louisiana Music Teacher’s Association (LMTA) provides a syllabus to help students prepare for Rally.

For the first level, Prep A, the written test requires that students be able to do the following:

Ear Training:

Recognize highness and lowness of pitch using wide intervals.

Recognize melodic direction (up, down, same).

To help my Prep A level students prepare, I created this ear training worksheet (with accompanying answer key). It includes both skills required by the syllabus for ear training as listed above, and also includes some additional questions geared to the Prep A level.

The accompanying teacher’s key is merely a suggestion; I often forget what I’ve played for a student during ear training so it makes it rather hard to check their answers! This way, you won’t have my same troubles.


Find the link for the worksheet here.

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Freebie Friday! Easy piano arrangement of Mardi Gras Mambo

It’s that time of year. The first (and arguably the best) parade of the Mardi Gras season is happening this weekend, so, as a personal celebration, I decided to create and share an easy piano version of the Mardi Gras classic “Mardi Gras Mambo.” You can hear it below as performed by The Hawketts:

As with all New Orleans’ music, the rhythm is the only thing that might be a little tricky for beginners. The music uses the triads C, F, and G , and G7  in the positions as below as shown in cadence:

C major cadence (using G7 chord)

It also includes dotted quarter notes, 8th notes, syncopation, and tied notes.

As always, it’s available on my website here. And here’s a preview:

Mardi Gras Mambo

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Free Piano Concert at Tulane this Friday

Tulane Classical Piano Series Presents

            Alexander Korsantia

       Friday, January 30, 8:00 pm

        Dixon Hall, Tulane University

                Free admission, open to public

Alexander Korsantia


Fifteen Variations with the Fugue in E flat major, Op 35                  L. V. Beethoven

Sonata Op 7 in E flat major                                                                   L. V. Beethoven

  1. Allegro molto e con brio
  2. Largo, con gran espressione
  3. Allegro
  4. Rondo: Poco allegretto e grazioso


Pictures from an Exhibition                                                                  M. Mussorgsky

More details here.

Dixon Hall

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