performance Tag

Spark

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. – William Arthur Ward

As summer draws to a close, I reflect on my studio goals for the coming year. September always provides an opportunity to begin anew! This year, I will strive to empower students to be accountable for their own learning. As the above quote states, the most effective teaching is that which inspires the learner. I would like to inspire my students to learn, not for me or for their parents, but for themselves. A tall order. For the students that already have a passion for music, this is easy. My job is simply to keep that flame glowing by assigning appropriate repertoire and challenges. For others, however, it can be difficult to ignite that spark.

InterviewIn a recent blog, I discussed the phone interview. The next step is to meet face to face. Before I accept a student, I always meet with both parent and student in person. Whether you call it a consultation, initial mini-lesson or interview, this meeting is a crucial part of my studio procedures. It is an opportunity for both parties to discover if they are compatible; i.e., is it the “right fit?” I think of it as a two-way interview. Not only am I assessing the student, I am also providing them with a picture of what lessons will be like with me. In my studio, I do not to charge a fee for this interview. It is free for those with whom I decide to meet. However, one could certainly decide to charge a fee as it does take valuable time.

By Meridith Johnson Recently a friend of mine who also teaches piano lessons shared a story with me about a new student she began teaching for the summer.  After her first lesson with the small wide-eyed five-year old boy, the parent immediately began to question her, “How is his musical talent?  Does he have good rhythm?  Can he understand how to read music?  I just don’t...

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bloggityLast month I wrote about how I use my completely non-professional equipment (as in iPhone) to record my students playing and allow them to hear mistakes, or record myself playing a passage they struggle with so they have a sample for home practice. I recently decided to use recording technology to record a few lessons and evaluate my teaching abilities.

I recorded myself teaching when I was introducing a new piece to a student, and then recorded the middle stage of the piece, where it was coming along nicely but we were working out a lot of rhythm kinks and adding layers and such. Besides being an awkward viewing experience (does anyone really enjoy seeing themselves on camera?), it was actually beneficial. I was able to pick up on little things I did well in the lesson and watch how it “clicked” with the student, and I was able to see the moments where I was losing the student’s interest. I learned from watching myself during the first recording that I have a tendency to talk and explain how I want something to sound. Certainly explaining and talking is a part of lessons, but seeing myself in action caused me to realize that I need to keep the student playing or listening to keep him engaged. I now have added awareness of this tendency and work hard to let the majority of lessons be about the student’s playing and putting into action the things we talk about.

Last week, I held a recital for my students. We only do 2 a year, and for most of my kids, that is the only performance practice they ever get to experience. That means that every recital is a potentially terrifying event. When I introduce the students one by one, they look so scared and then after they take their bow, relieved. Like a survivor....

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