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Winter 2021: Life in Music

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With the approaching new year of 2021, it is time for reflection about where we have been, where we are now, and the path ahead. Our professional community has demonstrated extraordinary innovation and creativity throughout this year as we maintain piano education and music engagement for our students. The rapid transformation to online teaching and adjustments to safe in-person teaching ensured that students were able to continue their music learning. Most impressive has been the power of our professional community to support each other. The Frances Clark Center Teacher Education Webinars have been a gathering place to connect, share, and discover. These conversations inspire each of us to continue forward even in difficult times. Never has community been so essential as we manage isolation and a longing for social engagement. 

At the heart of community is a sense of belonging. There is a distinct need for connectivity, emotional awareness, and creative expression. This is the time for musicians to expand their impact. Through music, we have the opportunity to extend our community to be much more inclusive. Student-centered learning takes on a deeper meaning as we consider how to reach a wider range of learners most effectively. 

Recently, The Frances Clark Center has focused on substantive resources to support inclusive piano education. The Inclusive Piano Teaching course, led and designed by expert Dr. Scott Price, provides enriching coursework, resources, and strategies to help us more effectively reach students with special needs. For those that attended NCKP 2019, it is impossible to forget the moving PedX talk by one of Scott's former students, Bryann Burgess. Bryann, an incredible young woman and piano teacher who was born with Down Syndrome, stated powerfully at the beginning of her presentation, "Music does not discriminate, and neither should we." By broadening our awareness and knowledge, we are better equipped to realize a more inclusive philosophy. We meet our students where they are, allowing us to support their personal growth more successfully in music. 

This is an important ideal as we take the time to expand our knowledge of each of our students and the music that has meaning for them. Our newest course, Unsung Heroes in Piano Pedagogy, led by expert Dr. Leah Claiborne, delves into the wonderful teaching repertoire by Black composers. It provides pedagogical insights and rich discoveries of great music that has been largely ignored. The opportunity to include teaching repertoire by a wider representation of composers is transformative. By building a shared experience through music, we foster a deeper understanding of each other and our unique perspectives. 

As musicians, we are compelled to share music with others. Being active community contributors has never been more profound. The feedback from the Center's online concert series, Piano Stories on Stage, amplifies the need for the communal experience of a shared musical journey. With the innovative NCKP 2021 Virtual Conference, we will further discover meaningful ways to gather, connect, and share new ways to build our community. 

It is clear that the work of piano educators is having a profound impact on students and their families. Students have found encouraging lessons combined with a creative outlet for personal expression to be essential. Individual practice time provides breaks from the long hours of general educational "screen time" and group learning provides much needed peer interaction. It is inspiring to witness the collaborative spirit of our professional community pulling together in mutual support. As we all reflect on the overwhelming year we have endured, we welcome 2021 grateful for our students, our service to music, our empowered community, and for the overarching transformational power of music. 

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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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