Technology in Teaching – A Workshop for Piano Teachers

Ellen Gonzales from Roland Digital Pianos

Ellen Gonzales from Roland is a noted educator, clinician and technology specialist who travels around the Nation helping teachers and universities integrate technology into their studios and classrooms.

In our last blog, you learned about a new lineup of Roland Digital Pianos that use Bluetooth technology instead of WIFI because of it’s ease and increased reliability.  Now, due in part to this major technological change, educators are able to access an entire WORLD of musical learning apps to aid in learning.  These apps will help you attract new students, build enthusiasm for different types of music and help you better control your students’ at-home practice.  You won’t believe the difference they can make!

In this followup session, Ellen Gonzales from Roland will demonstrate a host of apps that help you hone in on specific challenges your students face.  You’ll learn about apps that include play-a-long material for better musicality, apps that can provide you with practice reports and help you see what is going on at home, and apps that can help your students develop a love for scales!  Better yet, it’s EASY and most of the apps are FREE!

Bring your tablet to Gist Piano Center Lexington on Wednesday, November 11, and you will learn everything you need to know about these new technologies and about how they can change your students’ lives.  FREE Sessions begin at 11am and 3pm.  Gist will service some light refreshments so you can enjoy learning!

Roland Digital Piano with Bluetooth

Roland’s new line of HP and LX digital pianos now feature Bluetooth technology, a hybrid action, modeled piano sound and a 10-Year Parts and Labor Warranty.

If you live in Louisville, bring your tablet to Gist Piano Center Louisville on Thursday,

November 12 and we’ll load you up with great information and PROVEN teaching tips!  This FREE session begins at 10am.  Enjoy some light refreshments with us afterwards!

We’re still getting cards and emails from teachers who attended our last event.  If you came last time, come again and learn even more.  If not, DO NOT MISS this life-changing workshop!  We’ll see you there!


Chocolate Party and Roland Announcement!

Open to the Public

Roland Digital PianoYou’re invited to join us for a MAJOR Music Industry announcement from Legendary Piano Builder, Roland Corporation.  A Roland representative will be onhand to announce how Roland is partnering with other industry legends, including Hal-Leonard, Alfred, Sheet Music Direct and more to change everything we know about the Piano Industry.  You won’t want to miss this historic event!

Chocolate PartyTo celebrate this announcement, Gist Piano Center and Roland are joining forces with famous Louisville-based chocolatier, Cellar Door Chocolates, who will setup a full chocolate buffet – FREE for event attendees!  Gist Piano Center will also offer champagne and sodas to age-appropriate guests throughout the evening.

Finally, Gist Piano Center will introduce the all-new FastTrack program and demonstrate some exciting new things coming to Kentucky this Fall!  Here are the dates and times:

  • Monday, October 12:  6-8pm (Louisville):  Roland Launch Event (Open to Public)
  • Tuesday, October 13:  10am-Noon (Lexington):  Piano Teacher’s Event with Roland
  • Tuesday, October 13:  6-8pm (Lexington):  Roland Launch Event (Open to Public)
  • Wednesday, October 14:  10am – Noon (Louisville):  Piano Teacher’s Event with Roland

Piano Teachers

Join us for an unforgettable session JUST for you on Tuesday, October 13 (10am – Noon) in Lexington and Wednesday, October 14 (10am – Noon) in Louisville.  Piano Educator, Clinician and Roland Education Consultant, Laura Zaruta, will be here to show you how this new announcement from Roland, Hal-Leonard, Alfred and Sheet Music Direct can change the way you teach!  You’ll learn about incredible new apps, exciting technologies, our new FastTrack program and more!  This meeting will thrill you to the core!  Don’t be left behind.  Make time to be here and see how “This changes EVERYTHING!”

Roland LX-7 Digital PianoAlso, bring your smart phone and tablet.  We’ll be suggesting a TON of new music apps that will make your life easier and we’ll even help you see how EASY some of this new stuff is to use!

RSVP to Heather Hamilton (for the Lexington meeting) or James Harding (for the Louisville one).


Halloweekend Signups Have Begun!

“Wood” you have the courage to explore The Dark Forest?

The Halloweekend LogoOver the past few weeks, nature has taken root in Gist Piano Center. The very buildings themselves seem to be under attack by a twisted and woody growth. Buried in the darkness, quiet voices seem to speak of an impending doom – a reckoning coming to Kentucky sometime around Halloween.

Signups for Halloweekend 2015 have just begun.  Click here to sign your students up today!


Barry Manilow Donates NEW Yamaha Piano to PRP High School


Gist Piano Center delivers the new Yamaha P22 Piano to PRP High School.

Students at Pleasure Ridge Park High School will have the opportunity to learn, practice and perform on a new Yamaha piano this school year, thanks to the Manilow Music Project and the help of local piano dealer Gist Piano Center. Youngsters at the high school and throughout the Jefferson County Public School District will also benefit from newly donated used music instruments, thanks to the unique initiative launched throughout the nation by pop superstar Barry Manilow.

The new upright piano, a Yamaha P22 model, was recently delivered to PRP High School by Gist Piano Center after being donated by Manilow. Manilow donated the piano to launch a music instrument drive to coincide with his ONE LAST TIME! tour stop earlier this year at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. After delivery, the staff of Gist Piano Center donated their time and expertise to install and tune the piano.

Barry Manilow is one of 3600 Yamaha Artists.

Barry Manilow is one of 3600 Yamaha Artists.

Over the past year, concertgoers who donated a new or gently used instrument to the local school district received two free tickets to Manilow’s ONE LAST TIME! concert. The instrument drive was sponsored by Manilow’s foundation, The Manilow Music Project. Manilow started The Manilow Music Project to provide musical instruments to high school and middle school students throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“I know firsthand how invaluable music education is,” said Manilow, whose unparalleled career encompasses virtually every area of music, including performing, composing, arranging and producing, with worldwide record sales exceeding 80 million.  “It is a privilege for me to help bring the gift of music to these kids.”

James Harding, President of Gist Music Center, which has locations in Louisville and Lexington, said he jumped at the chance to play a part in the donation from the Manilow Music Project.
“For the past 44 years, Gist Piano Center has worked closely with Jefferson County public schools and our industry partners to give music a future in Louisville,” Harding said. “This new partnership with the Manilow Music Project and Yamaha will help bring music to the lives of countless JCPS students and their families. We couldn’t be more proud to join with these industry icons and help to promote the magic of making music in Louisville.”

Phillip Jennings, Music Teacher at PRP, leads his group piano class.

Phillip Jennings, Music Teacher at PRP, leads his group piano class on the new Yamaha P22 donated by Manilow.

Gist Piano Center’s focus on music education has played an integral role in helping it grow from a small piano repair shop that opened in 1971 into the Midwest’s leading family-owned, full-service piano house. Today, Gist’s “Partners in Education” program, the largest piano network of its kind in the United States, features 115 teachers and more than 5,000 students.
The involvement in the Manilow Music Project is Gist Piano Center’s most recent effort to support music education in Jefferson County Public Schools, but part of a larger, ongoing commitment to the district. The Jefferson County school district has repeatedly chosen Gist Piano Center as their trusted piano source. In addition to selling Pleasure Ridge Park High School a number of pianos and digital pianos over the years, Harding has conducted a series of training sessions and master classes for JCPS educators, and has also sat on the JCPS Community Advisory Board for the JCPS Music Magnate Program, which frequently met at the high school.

“Music education is at the very core of our mission at Gist Piano Center, as it has been over the past four decades,” Harding said. “We strongly believe in the power of music in education, which is why we look for wonderful opportunities like this that allow even more students to learn, explore and benefit from music in their schools, and hopefully throughout their lives.”
More information on the Manilow Music Project can be found at


Ask James – How Did Halloweekend Come About?

Halloweekend Logo - old vs newVery few people know that Halloweekend actually began in 2007 as a piano sale.  I was working for a music company in Iowa at the time and, as luck would have it, we were forced to reschedule our Fall event due to a scheduling conflict.  The only available weekend was the weekend before Halloween, which is not a traditional time to talk about piano playing.  As I was setting up for the sale (and struggling to find a marketing plan for the event), I received an iPod player piano system (new technology at the time) and I decided to make it the centerpiece of the entire weekend.   Friday and Saturday night, we hosted “ghostly performances” by “Ludwig Van BOOthoven” (who performed “not quite live” in our recital hall).  The kids were in awe of what looked like a ghost playing the piano.  The concerts were very short, we gave out some free candy and we even hosted a pumpkin decorating contest.  It was a fun weekend, but not a great piano sale.

Halloweekend 2008

Susan McPeters from WQPT Television (Quad Cities, IA and IL) reads spooky stories to Halloweekend families (2008)

Early the following year, one of our piano teacher friends (a member of a program that I would eventually retool and call Partners In Education or PIE) mentioned to me that she would really love to have a fun and informal performance event around a theme.  Christmas was too busy… so we needed another holiday that would make sense.  My mind immediately went back to Halloweekend.

Thus, in 2008, we launched our first Halloweekend piano recital.  It was a simple matter (without all the “SAVE YOURSELVES…a ton of money” puns), but the kids LOVED it.  We even invited a local TV personality to come in and read spooky stories to the kids.  We didn’t have all the flashy lights and our tiny fog machine was too small to make any difference, but Halloweekend 2008 is still one of my favorite memories from Iowa.

The Halloweekend Staff

James Harding, Heather Hamilton and Matthew Presley are searching for missing students at Halloweekend 2012.

In April of 2009, I moved to Louisville and joined the Gist Piano Center family.  My first priority was reaching out to piano teachers and their students as I had done in Iowa.  With some help from the very supportive and enthusiastic folks at Gist, I was able to build what is now our Partners In Education program – the largest piano student and teacher outreach program of its kind in the US.

Over the years, Halloweekend has grown into the largest Halloween-themed piano event in the United States.  This year, we’re expecting over 300 students to participate…if they dare.  Halloweekend has been featured in national magazines, area newspapers and even the local TV news. Everyone who has participated in the spooky fun has gone home with some lasting memories.

Who knows what horrific future awaits us at Halloweekend 2015?!  Only those brave enough to attend will find out…