Happy Holidays!

I’m pleased to share a piano method booklet for children that I developed with my Grandfather, Marty Gold. Marty is a wonderful musician who has enjoyed an amazing career in music. In fact, he’s the reason I became a musician. Recently, he told me about a piano “tent” he created to help kids learn the names of notes on a music staff. The story goes that Nabisco was going to put one in every cereal box back in the 1950s, and then pulled the project for fear there were not enough pianos in US homes. We decided to do the project together and make it available to friends of “Debbie and Friends.”

The following widget has a download link for a free copy of the Learning to Play Piano book and piano tent PDF files. A printed version of the book will be available soon. In the meantime, please let me know how the tent and method book are for your children!

Special thanks to Robert Heath of Barkley Studios for designing the keyboard tent, Greg David of Planet Sunday for the cover art image, and Shawn Girsberger for the book layout and design. What a dream team!!!

And, for the adults out there interested in learning to play the piano, I highly recommend the Berklee Keyboard Method online. Classes start Jan. 8.

All the best,


Matt Marvuglio, Flautist, Prof. Performance Division Dean, Berklee College of Music

Memorizing music is an important function for all musicians. Matt Marvuglio, Berklee’s Dean of the Professional Performance Division, has developed a multi-modal approach to memorizing music that can be put into practice and applied immediately.

Below is an excerpt from his Artisthousemusic article entitled Memorizing Music. In addition to being a dean at Berklee, Matt is also a Berkleemusic online instructor and course author. Basic Ear Training and Basic Improvisation are two of his online courses.

The biggest fear of memorizing music is forgetting. Forgetting usually happens when a retrieval strategy breaks down. It happens to everyone if you don’t process the music in a number of different ways. We need to process music in a number of different ways so you will be confident that you will not forget. This way, if one system breaks down, the other one can take over. Maybe a better way of describing playing music without reading it would be “internalizing” the music. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can internalize a piece of music through different memory systems.

Visual is the most common memory system through which we all relate to the world. For some of us, this is the way we learn music. We read it. When you close your eyes, you can visualize the part and see the page in front of you.

Tactile is the memory system through which we can feel the music by fingering the instrument. You can remember how a passage feels and you can reach for it. Through this system you can recognize familiar patterns such as scales and arpeggios. Musicians who don’t read can rely upon this memory system.

Aural is the memory system through which we can hear the music. Solfege is a system of study that clearly identifies the pitches in a systematic way and helps us build our aural perception. Scale degrees are assigned numbers or syllables and you identify chromatic alterations and key changes.

You need to use all of these systems and be aware of what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing when you practice. Also, it is important to isolate each system to fully understand what’s happening. This is a great way that you can put your music theory and solfege to use. Everyone will have a different memory system that is stronger based upon how you practice and learn music. Click here to look at a passage from the J.S. Bach Minuet in G and put it through the different memory systems.

Berklee Shares!

Oct 22 2008
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Berklee Shares is a wonderful educational resource filled with free music lessons based on Berklee’s curriculum. The lessons are in the form of videos, interactive PDFs, Flash activities, MP3s and more.

Since its debut in 2003, there have been hundreds of Berklee Shares lessons available to download and share. New lessons are constantly being added to this educational resource. Below is an example of just one of the many new lessons by Berklee Guitar Professor, Joe Musella.

Berklee Shares is an example of Berklee’s commitment to providing music education opportunities to the music community around the world.

Check out Berklee Shares at www.berkleeshares.com.

We musicians spend so much time doing it, but how can we be sure we’re optimizing our practice time to further our skills, nail the audition, or land that gig? The following is a collection of thoughts on practicing from two renowned musicians at Berklee: Matt Marvuglio, Dean of the Professional Performance Division; and Larry Baione, Chair of the Guitar Department.

In the following Artists House Music video clip, after an incredible jam session with Matt Marvuglio, Larry Baione shares his own personal practice tips, which are designed to increase versatility, ‘hand intelligence,’ and dedication to improving technique.

In his article entitled, “On Practicing”, Matt Marvuglio says we practice for two reasons, 1. Performance: a specific engagement, audition, or a recording session; 2. Mastery: to keep improving on your instrument because you love playing it and you want to learn the literature and master it. He goes on to explain that sometimes the two meet and practicing satisfies both reasons.

On Practicing” also defines and describes three levels of thinking that are going on when we play music or practice: automatic, veiled, and controlled. The purpose of practicing is to process musical information into these three categories of thinking. This article, complete with sample practice routine charts, will help you to approach your practicing in a more thoughtful and practical way.

How do you approach your practice time? Do you make the most of the time and plan out a structured routine? I hope these resources from Berklee’s performance division will help you to improve your practice routine and make the most of your practice time.