Montessori Piano Teacher

My Piano Studio

Sorry I have not posted in a while. I was super busy moving into our new house & now we have a baby on the way, so life is even more busy!

Lets go from where we left off. On the last blog I posted some photos of an empty studio space. Now it’s time to show you what it looks like full!



As you can see the room is made for the child. I have child sized furniture, shelves and the artwork is hung at their height. The things that are mine are kept next to the piano.

I find that the children are drawn into the space as soon as they walk in. Usually a piano teachers teaching space is very un inviting and does not look child friendly. My main aim is to teach them piano, but to teach them about music as well in a fun and engaging way using hands-on materials. My favourite age group to teach is probably the 3-5 year olds as this set up works so well for them.

What’s on my shelves?

Now I will show you what is on each shelf! Each shelf is a different colour and corresponds to a different music category (composing, note recognition, note value, musical instruments/rhythm & note reading). The shelves are changed slightly each term. If I find the children are not drawn to an activity I change it. I also add Valentines/Easter/Halloween/Christmas activities when its the appropriate time.


This is the composing shelf. I will list the activities below

Very Top Shelf

Coloured bells

can be used as an aural activity- Choose a bell and find the matching note on the piano. These are also used for the painting activity at the bottom where students compose using the bells.

Top Shelf

Romantic composer book– Colour in the composer and create a book. Music by the composers can be played as the child colours in. I created these books myself. I was inspired by the little books they make in Montessori classrooms.

Composer flip book- I focus on one composer each term. This term I have chosen Brahms. The child can listen to music by Brahms while creating this book which includes facts about the composer. This activity is from teachers pay teachers. Simply type in composer flip books

Composer bookmark–  The child listens to the composer and colours (from teachers pay teachers). I use spotify to play music from my phone.

Composer finger puppet–  The child also listens to the composer and colours a fingerpuppet (from teachers pay teachers)

Middle Shelf

Composer Colouring– The child listens to the composer and colours (from teachers pay teachers)

Play a story- I found this idea online and made my own. There are picture cards the child picks from to make a sound story at the piano. They get to experiment with creating sounds.

Boom whacker Composing– The child uses coloured crayons to create a composition using boom whackers (pictured on the right) Depending on the child they either draw coloured circles to represent their notes or they draw the circles in the correct position on some staff paper.

Bottom Shelf

Composing with Bells– The water colour paint is used to compose this time. I use water colour paper for this activity. They draw a circle to represent the note on the paper. If the child is more advanced they can use staff paper.

Composing with Xylophone– This is the same as the boom whacker composing but using a xylophone.


This is the note recognition/writing shelf. In the future I’d like another shelf just for writing. My father in law makes the shelves and at the moment he’s been too busy with other things to make another.

Top Shelf

Hungry Caterpillar bass and treble clef sorting– Here the child sorts the bass/treble clef cards under the bass or treble clef caterpillar. I made this one up myself.

Note Pegs– On each peg there is a note. The child matches the peg to the same note on the pink circle. Opening and closing the peg reinforces playing the piano on fingertips.

Car Parking– Each car has a musical symbol on it. The child matches the car to the correct parking spot. They love driving them into their spots! This was made by Tracy King

Middle Shelf

Alphabet cards & objects- Here the child learns the musical alphabet. First they put the cards in order and then match the objects to the cards.

Playdough– Here the child learns the letters in the musical alphabet, how to write them and where they are on the keyboard. I usually get them to make the letter with playdough first.

Writing treble clefs- Treble clefs are quite tricky to write, so I found a simple worksheet online where they can practice writing them.

Bottom Shelf

writing musical notes- I made these cards myself. The child traces the notes and the name of the note. I do also have sandpaper notes which I should put back out, but I need more space! (they will be on my future writing shelf)

Music note book- Here the child makes a book. They draw the music note and write it’s name.


This is the note value shelf. For some reason the children are drawn to this one. I think this is my favourite shelf to change each term.  As you can see I love minions & the hungry caterpillar!

Top Shelf

Playdough – each page has a lolly jar and the child puts the correct amount of playdough lollies in the jar according to the value of the note.

How many ducks?– The child puts the correct number of ducks in the pond according to the value of the note.

Note value dominos- I made these using paint chips from Bunnings. One end has a note and the other a note. They match the notes to the correct number value

Note value stamping– The child stamps the value of the note. A crotchet gets 1 beat so they put one stamp.

Middle Shelf

Shopping– They look at the shopping list and put the number of items in the cart according to the notes value.

Minion race- I made this myself. This is a 2 player game. Each minion starts on the banana. Take turns picking a card and moving according to the value of the note and see who reaches the finish first.

Hungry Caterpillar– I also made this. The aim of the game is to see who gets the most food cards. As you land on a food you collect that many cards according to the notes value.

Bottom Shelf

Bowling– In the bag there is a wooden bowling set. On each skittle theres a note. The student rolls and adds up the notes they knocked over. To help younger kids add up they can use the small erasers in the blue bucket.

Threading– On the tray there are note addition cards. The student threads the beads according to the value of each note. Then they add them together.

Snakes & Ladders- This game was made by Sharon Ellam, another piano teacher. They are available to purchase on teachers pay teachers. You can sit near the piano to play. Its like regular snakes and ladders, but the music version! This game is very popular.


This is the musical instrument/rhythm shelf.

Top Shelf right of plant

Orchestra toy– On the top shelf is a very popular toy used to learn about instruments of the orchestra. It plays a variety of pieces/songs. As you add an instrument they start playing together.

Matching felt instruments to cards– It’s a bit hard to see but on the top right I have a few felt instruments in the green basket and their matching cards. They lay out the instruments and match with the cards.

Top Shelf

Percussion instrument book– This is like the composer book but musical instrument. I change the types of instruments each term.

Bass Drum flip book–  The child colours & inside are facts about the bass drum

Middle Shelf

Matching instrument objects to cards– Here they lay out the cards and then match the objects to the cards.

Rhythm Listening– The child sits with a bingo card. Play a rhythm on the piano. The child identifies which rhythm you played and puts a stone on top.

Making Rhythms– The child chooses a card and makes the rhythm using toothpicks for bar lines and stones for the notes/rests/time signature.

Bottom Shelf

Percussion instruments & rhythm cards– Show the child a rhythm and they pick an instrument to play it. The cards vary in difficulty. Yes that is a pig dog toy you can see. It makes the most amazing pig sound!

Rhythm hands– These are handmade. Each hand has a rhythm and an action. For example clap behind your back or knock on the door.

Lego rhythms– I got this idea online. The child makes a rhythm. The lego corresponds to the notes value.


This is the note reading shelf. This shelf was only temporary. I want another one made for this spot.

In front of plant

Bass/treble clef note cards– These are used to help some children with their note reading.

Top Shelf

Keyboard pillows & alphabet erasers- My mother in law made these pillows. Each one has a button on them. The child matches the correct letter eraser according to the note the button is on.

Note reading colouring– For this activity the child can take the note cards if they need to help them with note reading. They colour according to the colour and note listed at the bottom. These are from the book Color Note by Sharon Kaplan

Note word stamping– Using the letter stamps, the child stamps the correct note. Each page makes a word

Middle Shelf

Peg the notes– There are keyboard reading note cards & also notes on the staff cards. The child places a peg on the correct note name (letter). These are from Susan Paradis

Car parking note reading– This was made by another teacher. There is a letter on each car and they park it in the correct spot by identifying the name of the note.

Beanie note reading– Kids love beanies! In the basket there is a dice labelled with note names. I also have a staff mat.  They roll the dice and then put a beanie on the note on the staff. This can also be played as a note race or a stepping/skipping race depending on where the child is at.

Bottom Shelf

Search & Find– These are also made by Susan Paradis. One tray is treble clef notes and the other bass. The child only has to find one note at a time on each sheet. For example they may have to find all the treble Es and put a button/stone on them.

Teach Piano Today Games– I am subscribed to Teach Piano Today. Each month I get some new games. I usually change the note reading games often. They all come with a set of instructions. This one is called Billy the Bendapillar. When playing this game the child learns to reading notes in the middle C position.


This is the lending library where a book can be taken home for the week. Below I have several practice pets they can also take home to practice with.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any ideas for future topics please let me know! Also if you have any questions about any of the activities send me a message.


P.S more teachers should teach the Montessori way! Get inspired by some of these websites below!


Some useful websites

My facebook page Montessori Music Materials-

Montessori Inspired Piano Teachers Facebook Page-

Susan Paradis-

Color my Piano-

Teach Piano Today-

Sharon Ellams Snakes & Ladders-

Composer flip books-





Montessori Piano Teacher


Setting up my brand new studio!

Since it is the holidays I finally have time to post! I thought I would announce that I’ll be moving my studio space in February! I cannot wait until I have my dream studio space!

My piano studio will be located at the front of the house so it is separate from the main part of the house. I am looking forward to not teaching next to a fridge. Across the hall is toilet just for piano students!!! I am looking forward to decorating the powder room in a musical way. If you have any ideas please post below!

The part I’m looking forward to is not so much the moving, but decorating my new space. Below is some of my ideas for my new room.20171209_120850You enter the room through these sliding glass doors, which are going to look great once they touch up the paint. On the walls I decided on dulux palmer. It is such a relaxing colour and I was surprised how good it looked on the wall. To the left of the doors I was planning on putting a couch for parents who like to sit and wait. Somewhere next to the couch I’d love to have somewhere to put some puzzles/colouring for siblings who are waiting and would like something fun to do.


This is the pendant I handmade myself using a paper lantern and lots of paper circles. I included some of mine and my students favourite pieces. I haven’t actually seen the pendant with the light on yet (I can’t wait!!)

20171217_111141 This is a view from the sliding glass doors. As you can see there is so much light!! The flooring will be bamboo and the windows are going to have beautiful plantation shutters which will not be arriving for some time as they take 10 weeks!

The piano is going to be on the left wall on the closest side to the door. Next to the piano will be some beautiful handmade child-sized shelves (there will be 5 in total in the room). The shelves are each going to be painted a different colour. Each colour will stand for a different music category (note value, note reading etc..) I am looking forward to choosing the activities that go on the shelves. Between the 2 windows will be a child-sized table which is a good size to use for group activities (I may need to order more chairs for that though!) I will also have my current smaller child-sized table in the room, but I haven’t decided where to put it exactly yet, maybe in that right hand corner.

Below I have a design I quickly drew up, it may help you picture how the room might look. The skinny rectangles are all the shelves. I am also looking forward to putting some pictures up on the wall. Each year I create a frame with all my students in it who I taught that year. I currently have 4 (once I make last years). I’m not sure if they will take up too much space though, so I will have to see. I could get one of the ikea picture shelves as then I’ll be able to swap them around (theres no way once i’ve been teaching 10-20 years i’ll be able to fit that many on the wall so I may have to rotate them!).


I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek of my new piano studio! It’s going to look great once the floor is down and those white shutters are on. I look forward to making a post once everything is all moved in! I may even do a tour video!

Stay tuned for the next post!

Laura xx

Montessori Piano Teacher

Note-reading is a very important topic to cover during piano lessons as student’s need to learn to read music. I believe this needs to start early on in a student’s piano journey.

Maria Montessori believed that children aged 3-6 have an absorbent minds. I think it is important to expose children to note reading before they are past the absorbent mind stage, as the child is more likely to take in the concept of note reading an absorb it without consciously thinking about it. As they move past this period their mind transforms, from the sponge-like absorbent mind to the reasoning, thinking adult mind. During the reasoning mind period, the child has to think consciously and study in order to learn.

Below are some games I use with students that help them learn to read music. All of these games can be used with children as young as 4!

Note- Reading Games

Steps & Skips Game

This game the student is learning to identify steps and skips, they are learning to read by intervals. This is very important when learning to read music, it is almost a shortcut to reading. They learn that a step is a note from a line to a space or a space to a line and a skip is a note from a line to a line or a space to a space.  I only created a steps and skips worksheet but other intervals could be introduced in the same way.IMG_5582

Search and Find Game

Here the student has to search and find particular notes. This game is great for any age as each note is isolated (they are only required to find 1 note). Thanks Susan Paradis for this fantastic game!


Staff Wars (iPad Game)

This student is playing a fun iPad game called Staff Wars! This game is great, as you can select what notes you would like your student to learn, and the game is played on the piano! The aim of the game is to play the notes that appear on the screen and not to let them hit the treble/bass clef20170208-IMG_5115

Composing with Bells

This game below is a composing game!! This student is 6 years old and she is having fun while learning to read the notes. This activity is set out so the student can self correct their own work. As you can see some notes are not quite in the right spot (this was before she self corrected). If the student is younger like this child I get them to lay out the note cards so they can easily find where they go on the staff.IMG_5456IMG_5460


This student below is older and more confident with note reading so he does not need the note cards.20170329-IMG_6349


The iPad is so handy to snap a photo! This student enjoyed playing his composition on the piano. I would love to make a bigger staff mat one day, so student’s can create longer compositions.20170329-IMG_6364


I hope you enjoyed reading about my note reading games! Stay tuned until next time!!



Montessori Piano Teacher

Sorry I have not posted in a while, life has been super busy!

Here are some note value games I use during lessons. Note value is important for students learning piano to understand. Each note is held for a certain number of beats. I create a number of games/activities for students, so they can learn and remember how many beats each note gets. This helps them to develop a sense of rhythm in their playing.

I hope you enjoy reading!

Troll Note Value Game

To play this game you add up the note values. To help students with adding they can put the right number of trolls under each note.


Note Value Easter Game

Here the student simply puts the correct number of eggs under the notes indicated on the chicken egg.


Ice-cream Note Value Game

This game is a favourite in the studio, all kids love ice-cream! I created this game because I love ice-cream! I found the ice-cream set at Kmart and the ice-cream erasers at the Reject Shop.  Here the student puts the correct number of ice-cream erasers under the wooden ice creams according to the note on the front.


Flower Note Value Game

I got the idea for this game from the theory book used in lessons. The flowers are from Ikea and the vases from Ebay. The student puts the correct number of flowers in each vase according to the value of the note.


Let me share the all time most popular game at the moment.

Drum roll……….

The Shopping Note value Game!

This has to be the most popular game. Kids love shopping, so why not create a musical shopping list!

To play the student puts the correct number of items into the shopping trolley according to the values of the notes.


I hope you enjoyed reading! Stay tuned until next time!


Montessori Piano Teacher

Sorry I haven’t been posting regularly, this term has been super busy!! Here is what I promised you some note recognition games.

This game the student learns to recognise the bass clef and treble clef. This activity also helps them to develop their fine motor skills when putting the sticky dots on.



When the student is doing this activity they20170323-IMG_604320170323-IMG_6049

This game boys especially love! I think all boys love cars. Each car has a music symbol on it. The aim is to park each car in its correct parking spot. While the student is doing this activity I may say “This car has a crotchet, a 1 beat note, can you find its parking spot?”. This way, the student is learning the names of the music symbols. They are also learning to recognise them.


Here is one of my Easter games. Here the student is learning to recognise notes by sorting them. Each rabbit has a note drawn on it and the student matches the eggs accordingly. I might say “This is a minim, a 2 beat note, can you find the matching rabbit?”


Here is a student learning to find the notes on a large keyboard mat. I ask “Can you find middle C?”, “Can you find the rest of the Cs?” They love this activity as it involves beanie toys! They love to choose which one to put on which note. If they are still learning to recognise the groups of black keys, you can also ask them to find those.


Here is the same student. She is learning to recognise notes on the piano. (this time on small pillows!) The buttons on the pillows represent a note and they match the correct rubber letter to the note.20170221-IMG_5217

I hope you enjoyed this post. Next time I will post some note value games! If you have any questions about the games, please feel free to ask.



Montessori Piano Teacher

I thought I would share with you some of my games I use during piano lessons. First I will introduce you to some musical alphabet Games.

Musical Alphabet Games

Below is the main alphabet game I use in lessons. The child simply puts the alphabet cards in order and matches the object to the correct letter. As you can see in the photos the child has a choice to sit at the table to work on the floor on a mat. The mat represents the child’s work space and it also protects the materials from getting damaged.

I made the cards myself and purchased the erasers online from Iwako


The second game I only made recently. The Theory for Young Children book inspired me as there is a similar task in the book.

To play this game the child lines up the alphabet stickers in order above their paper before sticking them on. When they stick them on, they find a sticker that starts with each letter. I have found that children love anything to do with stickers!

As you can see the child is sitting at a child sized table! It is very important that the furniture caters to the child.


Stay tuned until next time and I will introduce you to some note recognition games!!

Happy reading,


Montessori Piano Teacher

What Parents need to Know about Piano Practice


I know I said I would introduce you to some of my activities I use in lessons, but first since it is the start of the school year, I think this topic is an important one.

Your Child will need help

  • Up until about age 11 your child will need hands-on help with their practice.
  • Your help with practice will make a difference to your child’s progress.
  • Go through practice notes with your child and assist them where they need help.
  • Ask your child what their favourite piece is and to play it first (it is important to start the practice session off with something they can play on their own).
  • If you think your child is ready to practice with not as much supervision, stay close by and listen, even if you are in another room. If something doesn’t sound right go and ask your child to play that part again (while you sit and listen).

Organise a Practice Routine

  • Help your child organise their practice time. Practice needs to be part of your everyday routine (it is like brushing your teeth!). It needs to be done!
  • Set a practice time each day. It might be before school or after school after they have had their afternoon tea.
  • Shorter practice sessions to start with and gradually increase them until they are practicing around 30mins a day.
  • Practice directly after a lesson. Your child will remember what is expected from their lesson if they practice after their lesson.

Encourage your child

  • Encourage your child to practice. Give them a choice would you like to dry the dishes or practice the piano.
  • Attend your child’s piano concerts.
  • Invite friends and family over to listen to your child play.
  • Put aside some time to sit down and listen to them practice, giving them your full attention.

Your child needs a piano that is enjoyable to play

  • Buy your child a quality instrument that gives your child the ability to make beautiful sounds (not a toy piano from the toy department). Go to your local music store.
  • If you are unsure with what to buy, ask your child’s teacher (there will be some great affordable options).
  • Your child will progress a lot more if they are practicing on a quality instrument.

Provide a positive practice environment with no distractions 

  • Avoid practicing the day before or on the day of their lesson.
  • Stick to the practice routine.
  • Place the piano in a room that is central without distractions (turn off the tv, occupy younger siblings).
  • Try to avoid tucking the piano away in its own room. You and your child are most likely to forget about practicing if the piano is not seen everyday.
  • Help your child to decorate the piano area. They might like to play their favourite toy on top of the piano or display a picture they have drawn on the wall next to the piano (It is important to help your child make the piano area their own space, so it draws them to practice).

Communicate with the teacher

  • If you are unsure about what the teacher has written for practice, ask!
  • In order for your child to progress there needs to be a teacher, parent, student communication triangle.


  • Check in how lessons are going with your child’s teacher.
  • Ask for help if your child is finding something difficult at home.
  • Let the teacher know when practice weeks have gone extremely well (or not so well).


I hope you all enjoyed this post. Next time I think I will introduce some of my activities. Happy reading.


Montessori Piano Teacher

Setting up the Piano Studio the Montessori Way

For my next blog post,  I am going to talk about how I set up my piano studio so it reflects Montessori.

The space should look beautiful

  • The piano studio should invite the child to come in and learn/work.
  • The teaching space should be neat/tidy, uncluttered.
  • Decorate the room with real plants and flowers. I think plants make the room feel more homely and relaxing. I also love fresh flowers, they brighten up the room.


Child-sized furniture

  • In my studio I have a child sized table for 4-6 year olds. I use my dining table for the older children. When I get more space, I will have a table that is slightly smaller than my dining table. I find that it’s a bit too high. Also because my dining table is in the middle of the room, all students are drawn towards it, so the smaller table doesn’t get much use.
  • The activity shelves are at the child’s height. I teach mostly children in the age range of 4-7 so the height of my current shelves will suit them. If I had more space I would probably put some higher shelves for the older children.
  • I have an adjustable piano stool so it can be at the correct height for each child. I also have a foot stool that can be changed to different heights.


Open, accessible shelving

  • The children can independently choose and pick up their own work. If there is time, I usually let the child choose an activity. If they pick something that they are not ready for, I simply say, you are not ready for this yet and ask them to choose something else.


Music Activities Arranged in Categories

  • These categories include: Music Alphabet, Note Recognition, Note Value, Composers, Musical Instruments, Writing, Note Reading and Rhythm.
  • I first present the activity first to the child.
  • Each activity I created, so the child can do it on their own without help (once shown first).

Imaginative, hands-on Activities

  • Each activity on the shelf is well thought out, so it stimulates the child’s imagination. I include things such as stickers, stamps, paint, lego, play dough, toys, which children LOVE!
  • All activities involve your hands!!


A non-competitive environment

  • I believe children become self-motivated when they have choice over what they are doing and have a sense of control. This does not mean they can do whatever they please. Rather, they find themselves in a prepared environment, which stimulates them to learn! 20170124-img_4922


  • Through observing, I discover where each child is at and cater to their needs and interests.

Teacher as a Guide

  • Instead of the teacher directing “You played this note wrong, it’s a C, play C”, the teacher guides the student “Have a look at this bar, did you play it correctly?”.
  • The teacher does not give the student the answer, but leads/guides them to discovering the correct answer on their own (“Help me to do it myself”).
  • As Montessori said “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed”. It’s not about what you feel the child can do, or what you feel is the quickest or easiest way to do it, but what he feels he can do.
  • This student in the photo was learning a new piece. She wanted to play it on her own, without my help. I accidentally said something as she was playing, and she said “let me do it myself!”.


Thanks for reading my post about how I incorporate Montessori into my piano studio. I think the next post I may talk about the individual activity categories, and go through some of my activities. I haven’t decided if each category will be a separate blog post yet. Stay tuned! I look forward to running through some of my Montessori based activities!


Montessori Piano Teacher

When did I get to Know Montessori- Part 2


I decided to sit down and write part 2. I was going to post weekly, but I couldn’t wait for this one! I added the photo below so you can see where I’ll be typing my blogs. As you can see I have many plants!!20170114-IMG_4822.jpg

Before we continue where we left off, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I grew up by the beach in a small town called Tathra. I began piano lessons from the age of 5, probably with the only teacher available in Bega. I remember doing exam after exam, from when I was around 8 years old, until I had completed all grades until 8th grade. I also did music theory exams up 5th grade. I remember my lessons always having a routine. First the teacher would ask me to play scales, then pieces, then work in my theory book. My piano lessons as a child were somewhat bland, I remember only sitting at the piano, not doing anything fun away from the piano. In saying that my teacher was very nice.

I am also a very arty person. I started art classes when I was around 5 years old and went for a number of years. It wasn’t until later that I became interested in photography. I think I got my first camera around age 8 for my birthday, it had film and one of those buttons you scroll to take the next photo. I remember my grade 4 teacher she was kind, funny and caring person… she reminded me a bit of Miss Honey from Matilda! I remember sneaking into the classroom with some friends and taking random photos of her on my camera, I remember she just laughed (lucky I had this same teacher for 3 years in a row!). I didn’t get into photography until I took it as a subject in high school. The teacher I had was inspiring, energetic and really made you laugh. I think if the teacher was bland, like a piece of stale bread, my love for photography may not have taken place. This teacher believed in all of her students. She once said to me”If you can dream it you can do it”. From that moment on, I think my mind was on becoming a professional photographer. I think if I had this teacher as my piano teacher, maybe I would have practiced for hours! I also might have thought “I want to be a teacher just like her”. When I was taking piano lessons, being a piano teacher was not on my mind at all. Well this teacher did inspire me to be a photographer. I set up my own photography business. 4 weddings and a few portrait sessions later, I decided to close up shop. There was just way too much competition, plus camera equipment is quite pricey, not to mention getting all the right shots, it was too demanding.

Let me just go back a bit to high school again. You probably read earlier that I was an arty person, so I took art as a subject along with photography. The teachers were total opposites. I think my art teacher was out to get me or something because I never got very good grades, the teacher obviously had her favourite students. So art sucked at school but luckily my Mum found art classes in Canberra called Lavender Art Studios. This teacher had a different personality to my photography teacher, maybe not as crazy! He was a lot more quiet, a bit like myself. He had the same qualities as the other teacher though, inspiring, positive and believed every student could be artistic in their own way, he never said anything negative about anyones work. His art classes were a happy place. This teacher started his own business from scratch!

So there you have it 3 inspirational teachers who I look up to. All had different personalities, but the same qualities.

Lets talk about the present. I still attend Lavender art studios. I did take a bit of a break during uni and when I got married, but I found I wasn’t doing much art, so I enrolled myself in classes! Now there is no space left on the walls because I keep churning out lots of art! I think I have been attending Lavender Art Studios for over 6 years now. I still do photography for fun. This is where I need to get back to where we left off in Part 1 so I can tell you how everything came together.

How it all came together- Montessori, photography, art, piano teaching

So lets go back to where I was teaching at the Montessori school. I was so interested in the Montessori way of teaching that I thought I wanted to be a Montessori teacher. I signed up with Age of Montessori and studied online. My teacher trainer was Mary-Ellen Maunz. She was another inspiring teacher. Mary-Ellen was so passionate about Maria Montessori, the way she spoke about her, was almost if she personally knew her (She did know Elizabeth Caspari who was a friend of Montessori’s!). I had to go over to Bozeman, Montana for the intensive workshop, where I learnt how to present every Montessori lesson (there were so many!). The lessons were so well thought out and put together. In a way they were quite artistic, like a work of art. I would like to share my 2 favourite Montessori lessons. The first one is the metal insets, where the child traces using the correct pencil grip. Once they have learnt to trace the basic shapes, they can move on to creating patterns. I love it because you can get really creative. The second activity is plant polishing. There is quite a number of steps involved in this activity, just to set it up, so it is a lot for a child to remember. I love to polish my own plants leaves!!


After practicing all the lessons, it was hard to believe a child could sit there for a length of time and do them. Before a child can do a lesson on their own, the teacher has to give them a lesson, so it’s up to the teacher to make sure they show the steps clearly (most of the time without speaking). Even though I’m a quiet person, I still find the no speaking part very difficult (I remember one of my piano students playing through a piece and saying “Don’t say anything, let me do it myself!”). I was very happy when I finished the intensive training, met lots of teachers from all over the world and got to explore a different country, it was an adventure. Here is a picture of myself with my 2 trainers: Mary-Ellen and Mary-Susan.img_4180

I finished the Montessori course in 2014. Afterwards I thought I wanted to teach but realised Montessori teaching has the same flaws as mainstream teaching (long hours, long meetings, endless paperwork). I finally decided teaching in schools was not for me. So I thought where can I still use Montessori, photography, art and be involved with kids? I thought, well I can play the piano, so how about piano teaching!! Laura’s Piano Studio was born on the 1st of June, 2014!

The Piano Teaching Journey Begins! When I began teaching I think I started with around only 5 students, then 11, then more! The numbers kept increasing. In the beginning I only had a few music Montessori activities I created myself to see if the children were interested. Creating the activities allows me to be creative and be artistic. I set these up on a small shelf.  I remember this child (pictured below) she kept taking the same activity from the shelf every lesson. She also didn’t repeat the activity once, it was many times! This was just a simple note sorting game, where the child sorts crotchets, minims, dotted minims and semibreves into the same bucket. As you can see, she is in deep concentration.piano-5991

The same child did the same thing with this activity she kept wanting to do it every lesson.  I made my own sound cylinders. The aim is for the child to match a pair with the same sound, so a pink bottle with a yellow bottle. She was curious to look inside to see what was making the sound, so I let her look of course.piano-6065.jpg

So I discovered the children loved these activities, so I had to create a lot more and add more shelves. So this is all I can fit at the moment in the space I have! Once I have more space, I would have a lot more shelves and plants!


These activities allow the child to explore musical concepts away from the piano. When children use these activities they learn:

  • Note values
  • To recognise different notes (crotchet, minim, semibreve)
  • To read notes
  • To compose
  • To create different rhythms
  • About musical instruments
  • About composers

The activities work particularly well for the children who have trouble focusing/concentrating while sitting at the piano.

As you can see from the photos, teaching piano allows me to also involve photography. My camera is always nearby to capture special moments (of course I get parent permission first).

So when I teach piano I can create (make Montessori music activities), I can photograph (take photos of the children at work) and of course bring in to my teaching what I learnt from my Montessori studies.

To help others learn about Montessori so they can teach the Montessori way I have listed some links and book titles below. Enjoy being inspired by Montessori! Now to decide what my next blog post will be about. If you have any ideas post them below!


Age of Montessori

North American Montessori Center


Intro to Montessori video

A Montessori Morning video

Montessori Toddler Program video

Montessori Vs Mainstream video

Montessori= Creativity Unleashed video


Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education– Trevor Eissler

Nurturing your Child’s Inner Life– Mary-Ellen Maunz

Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work– E.M Standing

The Secret of Childhood– Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind– Maria Montessori

The Discovery of the Child– Maria Montessori

Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive– Daniel J. Siegel MD, Mary Hartzell

Montessori Spontaneous Activity in Education: The Advanced Montessori Method-Maria Montessori


Montessori Piano Teacher

When did I get to know Montessori- Part 1


So I decided to start writing my first blog…. while currently eating an ice cream (I love ice cream!). At the bottom of this ice cream are lots of m&ms, which currently represent all the ideas I have to put into this blog (yes I eat ice creams quite fast).

Why did I decide to write a blog? To start with, I thought it would be fun. I also thought that it would be great to share my ideas with others and my current piano parents can finally read about where my teaching style came from.

In this blog I would love to share how I bring Montessori into piano teaching, the wow moments that happen during lessons, and the activities I create that my students love. You are probably wondering who is Montessori? Montessori discovered how children learn by observing them. Children are able to make their own choices and the teacher helps guide them. If I was to describe Montessori, I would say hands-on and child directed. Now I better begin to write about what the title says or I’ll be here all night. So when did I get to know Montessori?

Lets start from the very beginning. My younger sister who is now almost 22 attended a Montessori school when she was 4. All I remember is her bringing home buttons that she had sewn herself onto fabric and that she loved polishing shiny objects. If you had asked me years ago, if I would give a 4 year old a real needle, I would say no way, they will stab themselves. When my sister was starting school, I was 10 so I was not thinking about Montessori at all back then, but thinking about it now, my sister loved maths at school, and I think its because she learnt maths in a hands-on kind of way and it made sense!(A little bit of background, the Montessori maths materials are so visual, the child learns actually how multiplication works). I better get on with the rest of the story now, as there is a lot to tell.

Now lets flashback to finishing school, it’s 2007 (10 yrs ago!). At this point I decided I wanted to become a primary school teacher because I loved working with kids, and I thought going to work would be fun, so I went to uni to study a Bachelor of Education for four long years. During this time I had to do some work experience out in schools…it was not very fun, so I hoped it was somehow, not like that in the real world when I finished uni. With uni I remember visiting a Montessori school and I remember seeing these children cleaning the floor. At the time I thought why would parents pay to send their child to school to clean, they are not learning anything by doing that. I didn’t think much of Montessori after that.

I finally finished uni and got my first job and it was exactly the same as the uni pracs, always finishing late, work always following me home, but the only difference was, I was in a classroom on my very own! The workload, hours and stress did not work with me, so 6 months later I decided teaching in schools was not for me, so I walked out and said goodbye! During the period I was teaching in schools, I discovered Maria Montessori. I was studying a short course online. I remember sitting at my desk, instead of doing school related work, I was answering my assignment questions related to Maria Montessori. I think the course only took me 3 months to finish because I really whizzed through all the questions (I was really into it). I was beginning to see the difference between a mainstream school (where I was teaching) and a Montessori school.

In mainstream schools they:

  • Do not allow the child to learn at their own pace (they have a time limit!).
  • Do not allow the child to choose what they are interested in learning (it’s up to the teacher & the curriculum).
  • Do not have organised and tidy learning environments (they were always so messy and cluttered!!! as you can see below)


  • Do not have freedom of movement around the classroom (they are expected to sit at a desk  or on the floor for how long???, of course it’s up to the teacher).


Kids were expected to do all of this while sitting on the floor.

  •  Do not always allow the children to be learning with their hands (kids have to sit on the floor and watch the teacher without moving!)
  •  Do not deliver different lessons to every child (The teacher gives the same lesson to every child! Every child learns differently not the same!!).
  •  Do not focus on the child’s love of learning, instead its about test scores and grades (It was just test after test when I was working in a school).
  • Do not encourage internal motivation (the same lesson is given to every child, they get bored, and there is no internal fulfilment so they use sticker charts, give out stickers, have a prize box so the child feels like they are being rewarded for their work). I remember doing work experience at a school and they had a sticker chart. I remember saying if you do this, you will get a sticker next to your name on the chart and the kid said “I don’t want a stupid sticker” (his exact words).p1000191

Example of a chart

  • Do not introduce children to practical life skills (maths, reading and writing are the main focus!!).
  • Do not have child sized furniture (usually the walls are covered with posters that are too high for children to read).

In saying all of this every child is different so a mainstream school may suit them and Montessori may not. This is another reason I left mainstream teaching, it was not my teaching style. I am a creative, arty person so I like to use my hands a lot.

When I left mainstream teaching I really wanted to land a job at the only Montessori school in Canberra (the same school I visited during uni), so off I went and personally delivered my resume to the school. Not long after that I was put on the casual list for assistants (I didn’t have any Montessori training yet so I couldn’t run the class). I began working and really enjoyed it. This is what I loved:

  • The children were so engaged in their learning, if you stood behind them, they would not even notice. I had to take a lot of photos while I was studying and the children would not know I was there.
  • They got to choose what they were interested in learning. I remember this one child loved maths. The child was writing on a small piece of paper with a grid, each column represented ones, 10s, 100s etc… This child started at 1 and was eventually into the 100s, then the 1000s! They stuck all of these small pieces of paper together and one day decided to see how long it was… it went from one side of the room to the other!! (would a child be allowed to do this in a mainstream school??? I don’t think so). I remember thinking I wish I got to LOVE maths like this!! (In school I hated maths).


  • The children were free to move around the room. They were not stuck at one table. They could choose to work at any table or on a rug on the floor.
  • Children did not need any stickers or prizes. They were so happy they could do something on their own, without the teachers help.
  • It was like there was no teacher in the room, the children were their own teachers.
  • The learning environment was beautiful. It was neat, organised and felt like a home, not a school. I also have to say I got my love of plants from Montessori!! I think plants brighten up the room and bring a sense of peace and calmness.practical-life-photos-1329mont-1648
  • They learnt how to do practical life activities such as pouring water into a jug, setting the table for lunch and mopping the floor after spilling paint. Before I thought this was such a waste of time but the second time round it made sense. The children were learning! They were learning to coordinate their movements and to become independent human beings.practical-life-photos-1315edited-1334
  • Surprisingly the room was not loud, even though the children were allowed to move around and chat quietly to their peers.
  •  The children loved to learn. Because of their love of learning, they were self-disciplined. When I worked in mainstream, there were so many behaviour issues, but the children in the Montessori school were very well behaved and I think this is because they enjoyed what they were learning.

I think this post is quite long enough and I’m beginning to fall asleep now, so you will have to wait for part 2. It’s a shame I can’t put up a photo of a Montessori child working, so you can see the concentration on their face, but you will see something similar later on!

I would like to thank Montessori for discovering how children learn!!

Part 2 will focus more on where Montessori fits in with piano teaching.

I hope you enjoyed reading! I am very excited to share my blog with you all.