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2002 ❤️

  Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Uncategorized

OMTA Piano Syllabus Level 6 with Honors in November 2002 (almost 16 years ago)... 8 to 11 months of intense music prep with 4 contrasting era pieces memorized to perfection (you know all those details I make you tackle and mistakes I make you fix?), and tons of scales, chords, arpeggios, cadences/progressions, chord inversions, sight reading, ear training, and theory understanding. I'm super thankful for my amazing teachers through the years! OMTA asked me to perform in the special honors recital that year, a day I'll never forget. The 2002 one was with my teacher, Hannah. ❤️

I had already completed level 4, and then went on to do level 8 with my teacher, Chantal. I miss music with these amazing ladies. Their training and love for me and the music they guided me in tackling carries over into the teacher I am today. Chantal even extended my lessons beyond the hour allotted to over 2 hours (and sometimes 3!) each week. It NEVER felt like a long time... and it was always huge to me that they'd spend the time helping me discover my love for music even more.

They (and many other music technology, voice, & piano teachers/mentors that I've had - my Mom, Nilza, Dr. Tuttle, Faith, Tami, Julie, Polly, Monica, Jeremy, Jeff, Yas, Bryan, Brian, Jason, Donna, Sharon, Shelagh, and MANY more) have made it possible for you to study piano at the studio. I'm always going to be grateful. Thank you all! ❤️

Hi Ho Cherry-O Music Game

  Monday, September 17, 2018 | Studio Blog

Links Involved...


I recently rediscovered a photo (during a student's lesson - the table under the game is in the studio) that I took of an adaptation of "Hi Ho Cherry-O", and it has been fun to see it spread quickly across Pinterest!

Hi Ho Cherry-O is a fun game for kids, available in most game & department stores, as well as Amazon (click that link) for $12.98 (with free shipping). My students enjoy the multi-color, multi-fruit option. Instead of the included spinner and puzzle, I purchased colorful cubes to label by hand. I drew 1x whole note, 1x dotted half note, 1x half note, and 3x quarter notes. A large container of them is currently available for $15.29 at Amazon. New, young students get to keep a block to use and adapt with any number of common, fun games at home. Because I play this with mostly young students, I decided to simplify the rules – accounting for only forward progress… and not use the original rules from the original version of the game, in which a player would have to return fruit to the tree. Often, students play this game before they have learned about rests or about the note names (adapt this as needed, based on the student's age & the amount of information you want to introduce each time). Generally, I start by teaching them all 4 basic notes (without the names) at the first lesson with just the counting values for a typical 4/4 time signature, without mentioning the time signature tidbit.

Time to play = 3-15 minutes, depending on how detailed & silly you make it.

Special Variation for older or more experienced students... use rests. The possibilities are endless.


STEPS 4 through 7 = apply in any order ♬

STEP 1: Choose Color Tree/Fruit & Block (one for each participant). Perhaps each use 2.
STEP 2: Fill the tree with fruit, so you START with your fruit in the tree. Of course, you could do a silly version where you PUT the fruit in the tree according to the roll of the block.
STEP 3: Take turns rolling your block. The more gusto, the better!
STEP 4: When the block lands with a note value facing up, together CLAP and COUNT aloud the value of the note… quarter note (1), half note (1-2 = while holding hands closed), dotted half note (1-2-3 = while holding hands closed), whole note (1-2-3-4 = while holding hands closed). You’ll roll more quarter notes than the others, by simple statistics and probability, allowing for a slower game & more reinforcement of one of the most common note values. Perhaps even incorporate a metronome and music track into this activity.
STEP 5: Student then draws that note on the double-sided white board (use a simple, inexpensive one). I like to use colorful, low-odor whiteboard markers.
STEP 6: Introduce or review the NAME of the note if it isn't too much information. Be careful to gauge the student's interest & energy level and leave out this step for a lesson or two as needed. By putting names (something that can be rather tedious) into the routine of the game (something that is always fun), you’ll make the entire experience interesting (memorable AND fun).
STEP 7: Student removes the correct number of fruit pieces from their tree(s) & puts them in a bucket (quarter note = 1 piece) (half note = 2 pieces) (dotted half note = 3 pieces) (whole note = 4 pieces).
STEP 8: Win! ☺ Be the first to have NO fruit left in your tree.


By drawing the notes on the board, students draw correlations between the clapping (action), naming notes & speaking beats (memorization, auditory), and drawing (kinesthetic, visual) processes.  They’ll commit the values solidly to understanding and memory, allowing for fun and easy retention of something that could otherwise be "work". Students also learn to use a variety of approaches to a music practice skill. Many of these actions can be carried over easily into music played at the piano. Ask them how they can do that...


It is also VERY easy to adapt this concept to other games… Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Monopoly, Life, and MANY more. I'd love to hear your stories. Contact me privately and with your permission, I'll add your comments to this post!

Testimonial: Bobbie M.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

July 18, 2017 - via facebook...

  • Thank you Kristin for being an inspiration to me, I look forward to each Monday afternoon lesson with you in the studio.

May 5, 2017 - via facebook...

  • I love the Piano, it has become my relaxation after work. I also have the most excellent instructor/teacher who's patience and positive reinforcement becomes a driving force. I stumble, Kristin makes sure I'm aware of the barrier and a trick to get me past it. Everyday you inspire me Kristin with your words and presence, you are the best of the best and I can hardly wait for Monday to role around.

March 18, 2017 - via facebook...

  • As a student of yours I feel inspired by your support and enthusiasm at each lesson. Our success as piano players is a direct result of you Kristin Phillips. Thank you!!!

February 16, 2017 - via facebook...

  • My Piano Lessons with Kristin Phillips Small Town Music are the highlight of my week, music lifts the soul. Thank you for your inspiration Kristin.

Testimonial: Cheryl R.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2015 (Facebook)…

  • Kristin is a patient, kind, gentle, knowledgeable, and amazing piano teacher. My daughter took lessons from Kristin for 7 years and I highly recommend her.

Date Unknown (Written Review)…

  • Kristin is GREAT.  Avalon and I love her and appreciate all she does!

Testimonial: Angela G.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2014 (a lovely note)…

  • You’re so nice and fun.  Thanks for being the best teacher ever.

Testimonial: Trish S.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2014 (on Thumbtack)...

  • Kristin provides immediate feedback to inquiries. Her level of detail and explanations are warm, inviting, and incredibly professional. We are in the first steps of scheduling an interview; we are looking forward to meeting her to explore possibilities for beginning lessons.

Testimonial: Tracey H.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2015 (on Thumbtack)...

  • Kristin takes such pride in working with her students and includes a fun variety of musical games and activities. Her communication is always thorough and complete. Her music studio is comfortable and surrounded with a showing of her commitment to her students. Our family highly recommends Kristin for you and your children!

Testimonial: Emma L.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2016 (Angie’s List)…

  • Kristin is an absolutely outstanding music teacher. She teaches piano and voice to people of all ages. I’ve taken lessons from Kristin for over 7 years. She keeps the lessons fun, informative and is all about inspiring the students. Music is her passion and it shows. She, herself, keeps learning and growing. Over the years I’ve had three different teachers, and Kristin is by far the best. She’s happy to meet with potential students and their families. Under her guidance I’ve come to enjoy classical music and truly enjoy learning music theory! She keeps the lessons very positive and upbeat, enjoys organizing recitals at the various senior centers, and takes great pleasure in?watching her students grow. Amazing teacher! Lessons are performed at her music studio.

2016 (Facebook Studio Page)…

  • Kristin is an amazing piano teacher – it’s that simple! Keeps her students engaged and eager to learn more! Kristin loves her job and it definitely shows in her work and the rave reviews she receives. Always gives positive reinforcement, is patient, fun, and full of creativity! She’s been my music teacher for several years and I definitely enjoy my lessons with her!

2013 (Yelp Review)…

  • Kristin has been my piano teacher for a little over four years now.   I absolutely love taking lessons from her.  She teaches people of all ages – is as comfortable with youngsters as she is with us “mature adults!”  She has a passion for teaching, and it shows.  Her credentials are impressive and she, herself, just keeps learning, growing and passing her knowledge on to others.  It’s always fascinating to see what she has in store for us – she keeps our lessons fresh, fun and interesting!  She takes her job seriously and if we have trouble grasping a concept, she’ll present it differently until the desired result is achieved – she’s just an amazing teacher, that’s all.  She has a deep and true love of music in all forms.  She’s knowledgeable, organized, thorough in her teaching programs, resourceful, and, frankly, taking piano lessons from Kristin is just plain FUN!  I wholeheartedly give Kristin my highest recommendation.

2008 (Application Renewal Review)…

  • I find Kristin to be highly organized and accomplished.  She has a wonderfully positive attitude and is the perfect teacher for all ages of people – particularly those of us “over 60”!

Testimonial: Margaret M.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2013 (Yelp Review)...

  • My 6 year old daughter started taking lessons with Kristin about 6 months ago.  I have sat in on some lessons, and am very happy with how Kristin makes learning the piano fun and uses many techniques and games to teach music.  Kristin is very patient and has a calm demeanor, which is great for students who may be shy or feel intimidated by learning something new.  My daughter is learning how to read music, and can sit down and play simple songs with only a little help from me to get started.  I am very pleased with her progress and highly recommend Kristin.

Testimonial: Lisa F.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2013 (Application Renewal Review)...

  • My daughter loves it!!

Testimonial: Nicole S.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2007 (Music Recital Survey)...

  • Wonderful recital! I was at the last recital and I am so impressed with all the kids’ improvement. You are obviously a great teacher and good role model for these kids. Thanks for caring!

Testimonial: Niki V.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

2007 (Studio Recital Performance)…

  • Great job as always!

Date Unknown (Written Review - upon renewing registration)…

  • Kristin is an awesome teacher!  Her dedication to her students and her studio is to be applauded.  She is a blessing to all of her students.

Testimonial: Grace W.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (Email Review)...

  • Kristin is a great teacher because she understands how much encouragement and praise helps to teach.

Testimonial: Michael P.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (email review)...

  • I am an acoustic & electric guitarist & songwriter. Kristin is an awesome pianist.  She has been playing for many years and is very skillful and artful at playing.  She composes her own music, writes her own songs, and is very good at it.  She is respected by many, she is determined, reliable, kind, considerate, organized, and friendly.  Kristin has been serving God for many years with her piano, literally touching many people’s hearts with her music.  It is definitely a good investment to have her teach you or your family.

Testimonial: Jeff H.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (Website Review)...

  • Kristin’s website clearly shows that ‘simple is better’.  I’m a web designer & music teacher.  I’ve noticed many sites where the designer spent more time on the ‘look and feel’ rather than the content.  While the site doesn’t have any fancy animations or effects, it’s still pleasing to the eye, and finding the information you need is extremely easy.  Kristin displays an incredible amount of enthusiasm and passion for what she does; and not many “older” teachers have that.  Young people are certainly lucky and blessed to have her for a teacher.

Testimonial: Katy W.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (registration renewal review)...

  • Kristin is a wonderful teacher! She is kind and encouraging. Even when I make mistakes, she doesn’t laugh, but instead helps me fix them non-confrontationally. She conducts herself with professionalism and is very organized. Her love for teaching shows in everything she does and her dedication to her students is a testimony to her love for music.

Testimonial: Amanda C.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (registration form review)...

  • Kristin’s music-teaching style is fresh, with creativity and energy! She puts all her effort into best teaching her students. Thank you for the blessing you have been to my kids!

Testimonial: Brenda M.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (Written Review)

  • Josh’s playing for worship at church went wonderfully.  He is so excited and practically lives on the piano practicing the worship songs.  We just love hearing him play them and it is going to open up new avenues at youth group for him.  Thank you again for being such a great influence as a teacher for Josh.  We are so happy with how far he has come in a short time.

Testimonial: Janette D.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (Website Review)

  • I love you, Kristin. You’re the best piano and voice teacher ever.  Thanks for being a great teacher and continuing to be such a great friend. You never cease to amaze me.

Testimonial: Talitha S.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (website review)...

  • Kristin, I know that you don’t teach me anymore, but I just wanted to say thanks for being the best teacher I have had and giving me the opportunity of being your student and being willing and so patient. Your friendship is so important to me and I am glad I get to be a part of it! Thanks so much! I love you!

Testimonial: John A.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Unknown Date (registration form testimonial section)...

  • It has been great to watch our daughter’s progress after just 1 & ½ years with Kristin.  The recital is well put together and it was a pleasure to watch all the students perform.  The choir class was also a wonderful addition to studio lessons.

Testimonial: Britton L.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Unknown Date (registration form testimonial section)...

  • I like my teacher, Kristin, because she teaches me very well.  She is also very kind.  She has taught me all the note names and how to play great!

Testimonial: Cheryl O.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Date Unknown (Yelp Review)...

  • We highly recommend Kristin as a piano teacher. She works great with younger children. We have been very pleased with our experience.

Testimonial: Michele M.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

Unknown Date (registration form testimonial section)...

  • We thoroughly enjoy you Miss Kristin. You do a fabulous job and you are such a sweet teacher. Thank you so much!

Testimonial: Lynn S.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

July 18, 2013 - via facebook...

  • Kristin loves children and loves music. The blend is ideal. She is kind, gentle and talented. Definitely a pleasure and a delight. I would love to have her teach my grandchildren, if they were just a tad bit closer in distance.

Testimonial: Melissa G.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

November 17, 2014 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is an amazing teacher! She has taught many of my kids and we love her!!

Testimonial: Sarah D.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

February 1, 2015 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is an amazing teacher. My daughter loves taking lessons and feels so comfortable with her at the studio. Kristin is extremely organized, patient, and encouraging. Her passion for music shows in her teachings. I am so happy to have found her..... She is worth our long drive each week!

Testimonial: Natalie R.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

February 9, 2015 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is an excellent music teacher! My daughter took piano lessons from her for seven years. Kristin is patient, kind, and empowers the student to do the best job possible. Kristin also keeps lessons interesting, allowing the student to choose songs to play whenever possible. Kristin's prices are very reasonable. She communicates well with both students and parents. I would highly recommend Kristin to anyone considering taking piano lessons!

2012 (Application Renewal Review)...

  • Kristin is a fantastic music teacher, encourager to students and a wonderful role model!  She is a blessing to our family.


Testimonial: Allison Y.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

March 11, 2015 - via facebook...

  • A very lovely lady and teacher. Taught my cousin amazingly, very friendly as well!

Testimonial: Madeline K.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Miss Kristin is a wonderful piano teacher! So patient and encouraging!

Testimonial: Linda P.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Kristin's love for her students is evident every day. She doesn't just teach - she inspires, encourages, and supports her students with passion. She is a great teacher. By understanding each student's learning style, she is able to find creative ways to bring a love of music and fun of learning to each one.

Testimonial: Marissa S.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • I recommend Kristin not only beacuae she's an amazing teacher, but she genuinely care about you. She is willing to work with you and teach you at the rate you are capable of, she never gives up on you, she's always open to questions and to help you if you have a hard time understanding. She's understanding, pushes you at the perfect rate, not to hard but not easy either. The rate she pushes you at is perfect because the music she gives you, you will look at it and think you won't be able to do it, but she has givin it to you because she has FAITH and CONFIDENCE that you can do it. I feel that a teacher needs faith and confidence in you to succeed and that's something that Kristin has for sure! She also has an outrageous amount of skill and passion for music that I admire. I think Kristin is the obvious choice to be your teacher in music, after visiting her you will not believe what you can do, the skill you have, and the beautiful music you can create.

Testimonial: Mary Anne B.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is gentle, patient, and kind. Her teaching style reflects that, but she is also a wonderful motivator and encourager. Any student would be inspired by her!

Testimonial: Sarah A.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is so tender hearted and kind to my daughter. She made learning music fun! When my daughter started losing focus during a lesson, she would switch up the lesson to keep her engaged. My daughter absolutely loved Kristin!

Testimonial: Meg R.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 18, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Kristin is an amazing music teacher! She taught me when I was younger the basics of the piano, those basics then bloomed into more complex pieces and I am now playing on my churches youth worship team every other Sunday!

Testimonial: Jennifer B.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 19, 2016 - via facebook...

  • We are soooo happy to have been referred to Small Town Music Lessons for the continuation of my son's piano lessons! Kristin has done a wonderful job assessing where he is, and I'm impressed with how she was able to find music for him to learn with that fits him so well! I highly recommend Small Town Music Lessons to anyone looking to make music a part of their lives.

Testimonial: Marian P.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

January 22, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Kristin Philips, owner and educator of Small Town Music Lessons, is the type of professional piano/music teacher I wish every student could study with. Teaching is Kristin's passion and she creates an atmosphere of learning where each student can be successful. She is a member of music teacher organizations, uses current technology, continues to practice and perform; always working to improve as an educator and musician.

Testimonial: John B.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

May 22, 2016 - via facebook...

  • Professional, caring, and dedicated are just a few words I would use to describe her. Her love for the piano and for the students is clear to see. We are very pleased.

Testimonial: Charlie P.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

April 11, 2017 - via facebook...

  • STML is awesome! Kristin teaches from her heart and spends at least as much time preparing for each lesson as she spends teaching. Kristin, you are the best!

Testimonial: Beth G.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

April 12, 2017 - via facebook...

  • So proud of you and all you've accomplished through your music, Kristin:)

Testimonial: Marc B.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

May 28, 2017 - via facebook...

  • Keep up the good work, it really shows you love what you are doing and making a difference in the lives of others.

Testimonial: Dorene & Matt F.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Testimonials

November 21, 2017 - via facebook...

  • An amazing friendly teacher who is able to make a positive connection with her students.