In this issue...
An interview with Stephen HoughPianist Stephen Hough has been called a Renaissance Man. In 2009 he was named one of the top twenty living polymaths by The Economist and Intelligent Life magazines. Mark Ainley joins him for an exclusive interview.
Also in this issue...
Remembering a Legendary Cincinnati Piano TeacherThis article explores the extraordinary life of pianist and teacher, Dorothy Stolzenbach Payne. She specialized in group and adult teaching, taught over 100 students, and served as pianist for the Cincinnati Symphony in the 1950s.
Also in this issue…
Advancing Intermediate StudentsMorelock's masterful teaching is captured in this insightful article that will be valuable to any teacher looking to raise the quality of their intermediate teaching.
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If you include songwriting and/or music composition as a part of piano lessons, you already know how useful this can be to the study of structure, melody, harmony, and rhythm. Examining lyrics, poetry, and language also inspires students musically, in terms of developing musical phrases, as well as approaching stresses and rhythm. Even just a little exposure to these ideas can help to motivate students. Not only are they interpreting music to be played on their instruments, they are learning to analyze and evaluate music as a part of the creative process. As a result, other composer's pieces begin to take on new meaning as well.
I know the last time I promised to report on the book Make it Stick, The Science of Successful Learning and I do plan do that, but, for the moment I will do it in bits and pieces. Let’s start with some quotes from the chapter entitled “Embrace Difficulties” and put them together with a few other thoughts.
“Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution (italics theirs) leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.”
“Learning always builds on a store of prior knowledge.”
“Elizabeth and Robert Bjork, who coined the phrase ‘desirable difficulties,’ write that difficulties are desirable because ‘they trigger encoding and retrieval processes that support learning, comprehension and remembering. If, however, the learner does not have the background knowledge or skills to respond to them successfully, they become undesirable difficulties.’”
My dear friend, James Sherlock, a young (30) and intensely gifted British pianist/organist/conductor (look him up—you won’t be disappointed) gave me this advice: “Your teacher is someone who is there to be a supportive presence on your journey.” He also said “The people who are unable to learn to play the piano fail because they won’t take an hour or two to solve every problem as it comes up.” (He is also a hard grader.) It was on James’ recommendation that I found my piano teacher.
As I reflect on changes I would like to make in the new year (aka New years resolutions), I’d like to share something I’ve noticed about piano teachers. At the risk of ruffling a few feathers, I’m just going to say it:
Piano teachers tend to be workaholics.
Perhaps that’s too much of a generalization and perhaps I think this because I tend to be one myself. But I think it’s safe to say that anyone who works from home has a tendency to be a workaholic. It’s just difficult to separate ourselves from our work when we work from home. Take a moment to do some inventory:
- Do you frequently find yourself thinking about piano related things on the days you are not teaching?
- Do you teach more than 5 days a week?
- Do you have any large blocks of time during the week in which you are not thinking of music related matters?
- Do you have any free evenings when you can go out with friends who are not self-employed?
- Does your family complain that you work too much?