On Q Piano

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My name is Melissa (a.k.a. Mrs. Q) and I’m a piano teacher to 45 students.  I offer lessons in my studio and online via Skype.  This blog is a place for me to share the fun that we are having in our piano studio these days!

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Accelerated piano lab!

Posted by On Q Piano on October 14, 2018 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Accelerated Piano Lab

Our music room underwent a transformation over the summer.  I decided to rehome the piano that I inherited and learned on, which my grandfather bought for my grandmother in the 1950's.  That was a difficult decision but ultimately made space for 2 more digital pianos. I also had a transformation over the summer, taking courses on offering this program in my studio.

The number one goal of the program is to turn students into excellent sight readers.  Sight reading is one of the most difficult skills to master as a musician.  About 50% of my private students decided to give the accelerated program a try.  Here is what I have found over the past 6 weeks:

  1. Students are practicing more. Why?  It's because they have their songs near mastery at their lessons.  They get practice time in which makes practicing at home seem easy.
  2. Students say they're having more fun. For groups with students under age 10, I always try to include a group activity or game for the last 10 - 15 minutes of the accelerated class. 
  3. Students are flying through their music.  To give an example, I have one early intermediate level student who struggled with finding time to practice at home.  She started this program at the beginning of September and has gone through an entire level of Piano Pronto (about 100 pages) in the 6 weeks!  Every student has been going at his/her own pace, but in general, kids in the program are progressing faster than in traditional private lessons.

This has been an adjustment for everyone at the beginning but I'm just amazed at the results! 

Fundraising for North Brookfield Townhouse is still going strong!

Posted by On Q Piano on January 16, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The above pictures are from our performance at the North Brookfield library.  We earned over $40 for the townhouse that evening and 15 of my students showed up to play Christmas songs for the public!

So far we have raised over $325 for the townhouse.  Fundraising continues until our June recital.  Our January fundraising song is Cohan's 1917 piece, Over There.  I have to say that this one is a hit - I think most of the boys like this song the best out of the ones we have done so far! 

Rhythm cups also came to On Q Piano this week.  During lessons, we've been using the cups to tap on the piano key cover, our hands and even foreheads.  It's been a blast tapping away with my students!

You're a Grand Old Townhouse

Posted by On Q Piano on December 1, 2014 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I've always been a believer in giving back to the community - trying to use our talents and God-given gifts to help others.  Maybe that's why this year, I'm more excited about our contest than any previous to this!  You may have guessed by my previous post that our contest this year is based on George M. Cohan.  We are raising money all year long to help with the repairs for the historic North Brookfield townhouse.  The picture above shows how some of the kids are using these mini-Cohans to track their funds raised. 

Cohan and his family would put on a show at the end of each summer for North Brookfield residents.  The townhouse was deemed to be structurally unsafe in 2002.  In May 2014, a beautiful new bell tower built by Jeff Samuelson was raised to replace the old one (which was damaged by Hurricane Irene).  Still, the building sits there unused with many repairs needed.

Each month, my students learn a new song written by Cohan and arranged for their ability.  When they play their song for adults present, the adults are asked to donate to the student's fundraising bank.  Since I'm also a parent of 3 students, I chose $0.25/time.  November's song was Give My Regards to Broadway.  Here is the extra sheet the students received with info on Cohan and the song:

If they brought this completed word search back in November, I added an additional $0.25 to their fundraising bank. They'll get one of these each month based on the song of the month.

It's December, so that means the kids are all learning Harrigan (shown below).

I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Robert of the Quaboag Current last week and she did a great article about our contest/fundraiser.  If anyone has any extras of the November 28 edition, I'd love to have them!

I am so proud of all the kids as they've been working SO hard at earning money for the townhouse!  So far, they've raised over $100 (I know it's a small amount compared to what is needed but it's better than nothing)!  They have gotten neighbors, friends, family, even teachers and principals to donate to their funds!  The students who raise the most will get some serious recognition at our recital.  I'm also trying to arrange for a member of the Friends of the Townhouse to be at our recital so the kids can present the total amount to them. 

This Saturday (December 6 from 4 - 5:30) is the Letters to Santa event.  It will be our 3rd year playing at the library for this.  We have permission from the library director to get donations for the townhouse from the public.  What you get in return is listening to some awesome kids play their Cohan and Christmas music plus helping the town.  Since each student has a goal to raise as much as they can by our June recital, the funds donated will be split amongst the students that came to play on Saturday for Letters to Santa to boost their fundraising totals. 

So be sure to stop by, say hello, and support the fundraiser that these kids are so excited about!

Extra special thanks to Brandon Avery (president of the North Brookfield Historical Society), Anne Kidd (director of the library) and of course the phenomenal families of the kids that I teach!

Summer is almost over and fall begins!

Posted by On Q Piano on August 4, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

(above picture: taken after the final performance at Recital 2014...don't the kids look relieved?!)

I seriously cannot believe how quickly this summer went by!  My students continue to amaze me with how commited they are to learning.  This summer, several of them have been working on pieces from their favorite movies or bands.  There is nothing more motivating for practice than wanting to play a song because you love to listen to it!

Recital 2014 was the best one ever.  I say that every year, but this year was special.  Every single student stepped up their game and played their hearts out.  Every single student was more dedicated than the year prior.  I couldn't be any prouder to be their teacher!  Click here to see pictures from the recital.

School will be starting in a few weeks.  There are some exciting things we'll be doing this year as a studio.  Our Bach party was a hit last year, so I'll be planning another one based on another composer.  Our contest will have to do with someone who was a major influence to Broadway - and called North Brookfield home!   You'll have to wait until November to find out who that is if you don't already know.  :)

On Q Piano students play at the North Brookfield library

Posted by On Q Piano on December 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

We had the opportunity to play at the Haston Free (North Brookfield) Public Library on December 7.  The students provided background music playing their Christmas songs as families came in to write letters to Santa and make ornaments.  Two of our students even got their pictures taken for the Quaboag Current. 

Here's Mr. Q helping out to set up the digital piano in the library!  Without him, we wouldn't be able to play at Brookfield Orchards earlier this year and of course, the library!

Above is one of my Wunderkeys students (piano for kids ages 3 - 5).  She was so shy at first but her parents assured me she practiced Jingle Bells so well she had it memorized! 

My son playing O Come All Ye Faithful

My oldest daughter, Rebekah, plays Joy to the World (and I always say that she is MY joy)

Brianna playing Jennifer Eklund's arrangement of We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Angelina came to play some songs she had learned on her own!

Chalice plays Jolly Old St. Nicholas (love that smile!)

Zack's family tells me he plays these Christmas songs year-round.  So he was well prepared for his performance!

As of today, Damien holds the first place spot in Piano Strong!

Liam concentrates on Deck the Halls (and I'm standing next to him).  He played it beautifully!

Did I mention that these kids also earned 30 points toward their Piano Strong goal?  They are that much closer to earning trophies at the recital!  Keep going students, you can cross the finish line!

Piano Strong - Are YOU Piano Strong?

Posted by On Q Piano on November 4, 2013 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Mr. Q is the best!  Thanks to his amazing graphic skills and creativity we are able to do this incentive program for the piano students this year, based around the Boston marathon.


Each student has weekly goals that earn them 5 points on the Piano Strong route.  They must complete all 3 goals in order to earn the 5 points.  These goals are:

  • Sight reading (level appropriate)
  • Technique (with correct fingering)
  • Theory

The following are monthly goals that are only available until certain dates.  These require more effort but the reward is greater.  These will give you 30 points:

  • Goal 1 (expires November 22): Research Alice Herz-Sommer. Make a birthday card OR letter AND write a paragraph about something interesting you learned about her.  Cards and letters will be sent to her home in London; paragraph will be given to me.
  • Goal 2 (expires December 7): Perform at least 5 Christmas songs at the North Brookfield library on December 7.
  • Goal 3 (expires January 31):  Earn a perfect score on the NoteWorks app on the iPad. Study your note names!  You can have multiple tries until you get the perfect score.
  • Goal 4 (expires February 28 ):  Memorize 5 songs. ONLY pieces learned since September 2013 can be used toward this goal.
  • Goal 5 (expires March 31):  Post a video of you playing a favorite piece on your piano, to the On Q Piano facebook page, located at www.facebook.com/onQpiano 
  • Goal 6 (expires April 30):  Create your own unique variation of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. 
  • Goal 7 (expires May 31):  Compose an 8 measure song. Must include both treble and bass clef parts to count for this goal. 

What happens if you’re unable to complete all the monthly goals but you’re still determined to finish strong?  Since you’re running a marathon you can earn cups of water along the way. Go above and beyond and you could be given a cup of water. For example, if you selected a piece of music in your level, sight read it, practiced it all week to perfect the rhythm, articulation and dynamics that would be worthy of a cup of water as you did this all on your own.  Five cups can be redeemed for 30 points! 


This year’s challenge includes all levels and ages. Prizes will be awarded at the recital if you prove that you are PIANO STRONG!


Street Pianos Boston 2013

Posted by On Q Piano on October 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Thanks to the Celebrity Series of Boston, seventy-five uniquely decorated pianos were placed around the city from September 27 - October 14.  Since I heard about the Play Me, I'm Yours project I have longed for them to make their way to Boston!  So Mr. Q, being the wonderfully supportive husband he is, agreed that we take a trip to the city and go on a scavenger hunt to find some pianos to play.  My oldest two girls were excited, but my son wasn't thrilled with the idea.

I had the girls pack their backpacks with music that they'd want to play.  That proved to be unnecessary as it was a breezy day and their music kept blowing!  So they mostly played from memory.  We New Englanders have a reputation of being cold or unfriendly at times.  The people in Boston were anything but that to my kids.  They were encouraging, friendly and attentive.  The kids got so many positive remarks and even a student journalist (who was also a pianist) for the Boston College newspaper asked for permission to write about my kids in her article!

We made it to only 7 of the 75 pianos.  Some of our time was spent trying to locate one near the New England Aquarium (which we never did find).  It was such a great experience and I hope one they will remember for a lifetime. 

Here are some other pictures from our day in Boston:

(ABOVE: Rebekah plays In the Mood)

(ABOVE: See, my son was happy to find a tree to climb at Boston Common while his sisters played the piano)

(ABOVE: He did play a little bit though, when he wanted to!)

(ABOVE: We know the piano tech. that donated this piano!  It was located in Government Center and here my daughter is playing the theme from Fiddler on the Roof)

(ABOVE: This piano was located at Faneuil Hall Marketplace)

(ABOVE: Two pianos at Dewey Square! This guy asked my daughter to play something and he improvised along with her. He was great!)

(ABOVE: This was at the other side of Boston Common, near Tremont St.)

(ABOVE: My girls loved this piano and wanted to take it home...no they really didn't move it)