PPP057: Learn about creativity at the piano with Heather Nanney

Home / Podcast / PPP057: Learn about creativity at the piano with Heather Nanney




Heather Nanney is a teacher from the St. Louis, Missouri area. She has been teaching 15 years and sees about 45 students each week where she encourages them in their own creative musical journey.

Heather was one of the first people to reach out to me and encourage me about this podcast when I first started it. She graciously invited me to interview with her on her blog at www.FunKeyMusic.blog.  

You can read the interview here.

We first met at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in 2015. She caught my eye the first day of the conference and I am so glad we introduced ourselves to each other before it was over. Since that time, our friendship has continued to grow.

This picture was taken when Heather and I first met at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago in 2015.



Were you a good student?

Yes and no. I enjoyed practicing but I also remember frantically finishing my theory homework on the way to my lesson.

I also remember a time when I wanted to quit piano lessons. My parents suggested that I stick with piano lessons for another six months during that time I started to love the piano again and didn’t quit.

Is there something you often say to your piano students?

Whenever I’m working with a student on a challenging piece or section, I tell they need to be willing to play their music more than they actually want to. In this digital age, everything is moving so fast so I feel that students aren’t used to having to work at things again and again. I really like this quote:

Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. ~ Julie Andrews.

I try to offer ways to make their practicing interesting for them but ultimately it’s getting them comfortable with repetition.

What do you find that you often tell your piano parents?

I’m always here to answer any questions.

If an assignment is unclear, I’m happy to answer a text or an email to help clarify the instructions. If there is a concern, talk to me about it early; let’s see what we can do to work through it. Keeping the link of communication open between parent and teacher is so important.

What keeps you motivated as a teacher?

Two things:

  1. My teaching tribe – through technology and social media, teachers have the opportunity to stay connected and encourage one another through online communities.
  2. I always ask myself, “Am I enjoying this experience?” If I’m not enjoying it, I know my students aren’t. This helps me take a step back and reevaluate to find ways to make lessons an enjoyable experience for both of us.

That’s great advice for piano parents too. Is your home practice an enjoyable experience? Piano practice does require discipline but it should not be a source of stress. Find a way to make it enjoyable.

Technology Heather uses in her lessons:

Mind the Beat app

Yamaha Chord Tracker

(Both of these apps were part of our favorite apps list in Episode 046 with Becky Laurent)

Which composer would you spend an afternoon with and why?

Heather’s composer pick is Frederic Chopin. His music includes such raw emotion. Listening to his music is an emotional experience.

Listen to her favorite piece below:

Heather is a composer as well!

Heather is a composer through the Piano Pronto Composer’s Community. Follow these links to the pieces we discussed on the podcast:

Silly – a playful, upbeat piano solo for beginning students. It’s also a great listening song for preschoolers

Latin Lingo – a festive and energetic piece for beginning students; and they get to learn some Spanish words too!

On the Run – this fast paced piece will have your piano kid’s fingers flying! I love that Heather was inspired to write this piece while she was “on the run” in her car!

Until I See You Again – Heather wrote this expressive piece as a tribute to her mother.

See more pieces written by Heather at the Composer’s Community of Piano Pronto Publishing.

Listen to Episode 053 to learn more about how you can purchase just the right piano music for your piano kid.

Advice for new piano parents

It is ok to give your child time to explore and create sounds on the piano. It may sound like noise to you but they are learning and listening.

It is great for them to go back and play pieces they’ve already mastered. This is a great quote from Kris Skaletsky of www.KiddyKeys.com,

“Review leads to comfort and confidence.

Comfort and confidence lead to competence.”


Piano students in the St. Louis, MO area can contact Heather through her website at www.FunKeyMusic.blog.


Have you signed up for the September #3020 Practice Challenge? Complete the form below and sign up today!

Join the #3020 Challenge

September practice challenge

Sign up today to receive a practice calendar and weekly practice reminder emails.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
%d bloggers like this: