In this issue...
Beyond the KeyboardIs there more to teaching piano than reading and technique? Do we teach reading too soon? What is the most effective sequence for teaching music? Read this thought-provoking address from one of the most influential music educators of the twentieth century.
Also in this issue...
The Teaching Legacy of Rosina LhévinneThese notes, taken directly from Lhevinne's legendary masterclasses, include her invaluable advice on pedaling, memorization, the music of Beethoven and Chopin, and more.
Also in this issue...
What are the best practices?In business, research usually drives practice, allowing the business to adapt new knowledge. However, the field of piano teaching is sadly lacking in this area. Learn how to become a more effective teacher by examining current trends.
Also in this issue...
Nine practice habits of highly ineffective pianistsPianist, teacher, and composer Peter Janecwicz gives his witty perspective on being an ineffective pianist. "It is with these simple, profound, yet oddly appealing strategies that you too can hone your piano skills to the transcendentally lackadaisical standard that your heart so desires."
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Our May/June 2015 issue brought Clavier Companion readers an exclusive interview with award-winning pianist Sean Chen. Chen was named the 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association (APA). As a Classical Fellow, Chen is supported in many ways by APA. The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young, American, world-class, jazz and classical pianists. We're happy to highlight the work of APA and share our conversation with APA President Joel Harrison.
All of your fellows are excellent, but did you realize you had something special with Sean Chen when he was in the APA competition? How does APA continue to work with Sean Chen as his career moves forward?
I knew Sean a bit prior to his APA experience, so yes, I had some idea that he has some extraordinary qualities. Having heard him now in many different situations, from solo, to working with high school orchestras and students, masterclasses in varied settings, rehearsing and performing with excellent professional orchestras, and a variety of community outreach experiences, I have come to more fully realize how truly gifted he is. He handles every situation with ease and grace, and he never fails- no matter what!
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.
In 2006, I was asked by my publisher to attend a national music education conference to help market my new jazz piano method. Lacking sales experience, I somewhat nervously asked anyone who happened to pass by the exhibit booth, "Are you interested in teaching improvisation to your students?" Since most piano teachers are inherently friendly, I was relieved when most of them agreed to take a polite first look at my books. A few, however, surprised me by reacting indignantly with the likes of, “Why, certainly not!" before proceeding down the aisle (and inevitable extinction) to peruse the latest editions of Fur Elise.
A Balanced Teaching Philosophy
There’s nothing wrong with teaching what we’ve come to call classical music. It develops great technique, increases music appreciation, and develops an awareness of our musical roots.