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3 minutes reading time (540 words)

Video: A valuable tool for teachers


Playing the piano is much like driving a car. When you drive a car, you have a destination in mind, and you focus your attention simultaneously on both the route and the moment-by-moment actions that will bring you to your destination. Along the way, you not only look at the road ahead, but you also acquire an awareness of cars around you, you keep track of your speed and fuel level, and you may even undertake other activities, such as tuning your radio. 

Similarly, when you can play a piece comfortably, you find a way to transcend the experience of executing the notes. While focusing on the notes that you are about to play, you simultaneously follow an interpretative path that you have planned, respond spontaneously and musically when the unexpected happens, and, all the while, you keep track of the musical breadcrumbs you have left behind. Indeed, if you have played a piece well, you have engaged in a multitasking experience of the highest order. 

One of the best tools that we have today to help us become multitasking players is video. When you both watch and listen to yourself during video replay, you have an opportunity to become aware of all the things that were taking place during your performance: your posture, muscular tension, the actual level of musical expression, the steadiness of your tempo, and so much more. In other words, video recordings of ourselves as players enable us to reconcile what we think took place with what actually took place. We become outside observers of ourselves. 

In a similar fashion, video can help us to become better teachers of our students, again giving us an outside perspective on the implementation of our craft. When you made a musical comment to your student during a lesson, did you actually notice the reaction of the student that was projected in her facial expression or bodily tension? If you were looking at the music, perhaps not! During the course of the lesson, did you notice the moment when the student experienced the greatest joy? 

In this issue of Clavier Companion, Dr. Margarita Denenburg, Assistant Professor of Music at Heidelberg University, provides insights regarding the use of video to assess one's teaching. She uses video to enable her piano pedagogy students to evaluate and improve their craft, and the concepts are applicable to all teachers. Additional tips on equipment and apps to help you get the most out of today's technology are provided by yours truly and by Dr. Stella Branzburg Sick, a pioneer in the field of using video technology for long-distance piano performance and instruction. 

Dr. Mario Ajero, Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the Stephen F. Austin State University, takes us in another direction, inspiring us with his techniques for projecting one's teaching into the future by creating compelling instructional videos that can be repeatedly viewed at any time. Indeed, we are living in an era in which we all have access to amazing tools for capturing and editing video. But how do we use these tools in an efficient and effective manner to reach students through sight and sound? Wait till you see what Dr. Ajero has in store for you!  by George F. Litterst 

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July/August 2015
Beyond the keyboard: Keynote address, NCKP 2015


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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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