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The gift of music: Teaching piano in a women's correctional institution

The gift of music: Teaching piano in a women's correctional institution
​ "Most people take piano lessons as a child, not as a middle-aged woman in prison." These words, spoken by a piano student at the Goodman Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina are true. This truth is a part of the reason why I began a small program for piano study at the prison two years ago. My research while a student at the Unive...
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A moment that makes a difference

A moment that makes a difference
Teaching music to prison inmates is exactly 30.8 miles from my front door in suburbia to the thick metal door of the Warren Correctional Institution, home to 1,400 male inmates. On my scheduled teaching days, I arrive with my contractor badge and clear plastic bag and wait to see what the day will bring. I never know what is or is not goi...
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Memorization in adulthood

It really gets my dander up when I hear people say that adult amateur pianists aren't "serious" about their piano study. Why underestimate the thousands of adults who are passionate about performing at the piano? You will find amateur pianists seeking out performance opportunities through music clubs and associations. They find any excuse to perfor...
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How Do You Choose Repertoire for Your Adult Students?

"I'm too old to play pieces I don't like," said Heather at one of our first lessons. Heather is a retired Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures, as well as an expert on the composer Schubert. It's no surprise that her repertoire is steeped in Schubert's music. She loves it that way, and so do I. It's not always this easy picking reper...
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The trapeziectomy diaries: Part two

The trapeziometacarpal joint, also called the "trapezium," is at the base of the thumb. Osteoarthritis, a well-known condition suffered by many adults, affects the trapezium in some people. Sufferers experience pain, stiffness, and weakness in the thumb joint. This is particularly troublesome when the sufferer is a pianist.  Luckily, there are...
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The trapeziectomy diaries: Recovering from arthritis

​Jill Dew is one of my favorite people. You can't help but love her charisma and her enthusiasm. She is a superb singer and vocal coach who loves her students. She also loves playing the piano, sometimes in tearful wonder of the instrument and her accomplishments. Then she was robbed. Robbed by the effects of arthritis. Jill is not naive—arthritis ...
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How do you help adults get over stage fright?

There are many famous people who have stage fright. According to Patrick Enright of MS IEC.com 1 ;  Andrea Bocelli told Connie Chung that he's constantly afflicted by stage fright that lasts almost his entire performance. "The only way is to go on stage and to hope. " Glenn Gould quit playing in front of live audiences because of his discomfor...
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The ultimate anti-aging hobby

Professional musicians have always been aware that their chosen profession contributes to a long lifespan, especially if they are pianists. The beloved Arthur Rubinstein continued to perform into his 90s and retired only because of diminishing eyesight caused by shingles. Alfred Brendel performed his final public concert last December in Vienna jus...
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How do you help an adult student who has ingrained poor technical habits?

from the series: ​It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Michelle Conda, Editor by The Adult Learning Committee of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy Okay, let's face it - I'm not talking about the good habits your adult students have, but the bad habits   that form the foundation of so many recreational pianists' technique...
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What Do You Do To Promote Learning Outside of The Piano Lessons?

from the series: It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Brenda Dillon, Editor The challenge for our youth-focused industry is to develop both products and programs designed to attract and serve a vastly underserved older market. Because space was available in the Autumn 2004 issue of Keyboard Companion, I was able to include my farewell commen...
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What motivates adults to continue piano lessons?

from the series: ​It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Brenda Dillon, Editor A walk down memory lane ... It has been said that inside the body of every seventy-year-old is a thirty-five-year-old saying, "What happened to me?" When one of the writers for this issue backed out near the deadline, I suggested to Elvina that I answer this questio...
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What Are The Questions (and Answers) That Impact Adults' Piano Study?

from the series: ​It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Brenda Dillon, Editor After reading Barbara Maris' book, Making Music at the Piano: Learning Strategi es For Adult Students (Oxford University Press), I was constantly reminded that we crave a "one-stop-shopping" experience. In a sense this is what I found Barbara's book to be. In additi...
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How is Teaching Adults to Read Music Different Than Teaching Children?

from the series: ​Independence Day: Music Reading Adult beginners seem to challenge everything we think we know about teaching. From the books used to the rate of skill development, adult learners are different from children. One thing we can do to understand our adult learners is to put ourselves in their position by becoming students ourselv...
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Is the willingness and ability to teach adults a moral issue?

Dear readers, please indulge me. I am a first time mother at forty-two years old, and my world will never be the same. Everything I see around me is shaded by my new mother eyes. Just like every mother before me, I want the world to be a better place for my child. I was born in the "baby boom" era. I am used to being comfortable and having all my p...
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How Do You Begin an Adult Who Has Had No Previous Music Study?

Increasing numbers of adults taking piano lessons didn't just happen overnight. Teachers have been observing that their percentage of adult students has risen steadily through the past decade. Publishers have responded to this change in the marketplace by publishing a diverse array of materials written specifically for adult beginners.  A rela...
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Why Is Playing the Piano Beneficial for Adults With Arthritis?

We are fortunate to have this question answered by two writers who are extremely knowledgeable about arthritis. Charlotte Frazier is a Registered Music Therapist (RMT) who has experience teaching piano to adults with arthritis. Scott Zashin is an MD who stays informed about the most current treatments of arthritis through his position as editor of ...
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How Do You Keep Your Adults From Using The Lesson Times as Therapy Sessions?

If confession is good for the soul, then my soul is about to feel really good. Because I am going to admit to something which may appall most, if not all readers of KEYBOARD COMPANION.  Currently, I teach adults only in groups, but when I was teaching several adult students in private lessons, I actually enjoyed it when one or two of them...
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Are Adults Able to Learn to Play the Piano as Readily As Children?

from the series: ​It's Never Too Late: Adult Music Study In addition to giving us specific information about adult learners, Michelle Robison's response to our question addresses the myth that adults quit learning after a certain age. You may have noticed in conversations with many adults that the magic age varies, depending on the age of the ...
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How Do You Handle the Discouraging Plateaus of Adult Piano Study?

Alt hough this question implies that all  plateaus are negative, our writers very  effectively dispute that contention and give  us very positive reasons for plateaus. It is  analogous to the age-old question about the  glass being half empty or half full. A plateau  from one perspective is viewed as no  progress ...
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It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study

Brenda Dillon is on the faculty of Brookhaven College  in Dallas, Project Administrator for the National Piano Foundation, co-author of Acquiring Music Fundamentals, Design for Music Reading, Group Piano Study Guide, and Essential Steps and Piano Patterns, and Past Chairman of the Texas Group Piano Associatio...
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