Holiday Cheer at Stam's

Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Brooke Reninger Duke | recitals

Last weekend we had our very first Christmas recital here in Ames. We were lucky enough to be hosted by Chocolaterie Stam’s in Ames, and what a great location that turned out to be! We had a great audience as many friends & family members came to support the performers.


All of the performers did excellent, and I’m so proud of them. However, three students stood out as having worked exceptionally hard: Erik H. for preparing 3 difficult pieces in a short amount of time; Amelia T. for learning a brand new piece just 3 days before the recital; and Kaitlyn N. for being the most prepared by getting her songs polished several weeks in advance.

Great job, everyone!


A Piano Teacher's Gratitude List

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 by Brooke Reninger Duke | thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and it’s a time we often try to reflect on the things in our life we are thankful for and show gratitude to others. As a piano teacher, I have a very specific gratitude list, and I wanted to take a moment to show my thanks and appreciation.

  1. All of my wonderful students.
    I am so thankful for each and every one of my students. You are all amazing, and I am so blessed to get to work with you all. Bringing you music and knowledge is a highlight of my life.

  1. All of my studio families.
    We could not be successful without all of the supportive parents, grandparents, siblings, partners, and friends. Many of our families even have multiple students in their family! You are all a pleasure to work with, and I am so grateful for you.

  1. My students & families understanding the struggles of a working parent.
    Sometimes my childcare doesn’t pan out, or my child is sick, or she’s just loud and disruptive. I do my best to have someone here for her during piano lessons, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. All of my students and parents have always been nothing but gracious, for which I am extremely thankful!

  1. My supportive partner and family.
    I wouldn’t be able to have a piano studio without the support of my husband and parents. Whether they are watching my toddler, helping me brainstorm, or attending recitals, they help me in so many ways.

  1. Getting to do what I love and still be at home with my toddler.
    Having a piano studio means I don’t have to leave my toddler every day, AND I get to do what I love as my profession. I get to make music for my job! That’s incredible, and I’m extremely grateful.

As a piano teacher, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and I will be dwelling on my gratitude list this holiday season. What would go on your gratitude list?

How to Practice Piano (hint: it's easier than you think)

Monday, November 18, 2019 by Brooke Reninger Duke | piano practice

I recently came across this infographic about piano practice, and I immediately thought, wow that sounds horrible. There’s nothing wrong with following this advice, but for most people it is completely unrealistic. Not to mention extremely boring. 

Things like practice every single day, practice on holidays, practice after a lesson, and practice before bed might sound great, but most people just don't have time for that.

So, ignore that. I’m going to give you the secrets to piano practice that won’t make you fall asleep.

  1. Practice the very next day after your lesson. This is when the material is freshest in your mind. Getting a practice session in then will cement it in your brain!

  1. Try to practice at least one day out of the weekend. I don’t know any piano teachers that actually expect you to practice on holidays.

  1. Having a set practice time works for some people. Other people just go to the piano at different times throughout their day. Whatever works for you is fine.

  1. Listen to music whenever you can. Listening to music helps develop your ear, which is essential to your musical skills.

  1. Practice in different, mixed-up ways. This week we start the 12 Days of Christmas piano practice challenge. You’re going to learn all sorts of different, interesting ways to practice. You’ll never be bored during practice time again!