What can you play?
This is a question which for too many pianists leads to such answers as:
- I’m working on Allegro, but it’s not yet ready to play;
- I finished learning Andante last month, but I’ve forgotten it now;
- I don’t have my music books with me, so …
What a pity!
The reality is that too many of us can’t sit down at the piano without notice, without notation, and without embarrassment, and simply play something!
Continue reading Active Repertoire Challenge 2020
I recently came across an article by Elizabeth Gilbert of the University of West Virginia and Nina Strohminger of Yale University presenting their findings that only a third of published psychology research is reliable.
Another article confirms that in the field of biomedicine (the basis of so much news coverage of medical advances) less than 50% of research proves reliable when the “reproducibility factor” is applied.
And astonishingly, we read elsewhere that “just 11% of preclinical cancer research studies could be confirmed”.
We might well speculate as to why such a body of inaccurate “research” is being published; certainly there are important questions here. And let’s be clear that it is academics themselves who are drawing attention to the problem, and expressing frustration.
If psychological and medical research are this unreliable, shouldn’t we also be concerned about the “research” that underpins educational theories and methods?
Continue reading Can we really trust educational research?
Guest post by Karen Marshall
Multi-sensory music teaching is just what it sounds like: using all the senses to teach and learn music. The main senses employed are visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (doing).
I would also add in reading and writing (text) as the literate nature of our world shows that many people find this useful, even those with dyslexia.
Multi-sensory music teaching can be seen in some of the most respected approaches to such work throughout the world including those of Dalcroze, Kodály, Suzuki and Orff. It can benefit all learners, including those with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia. In her key book Instrumental Music for Dyslexics: A Teaching Handbook (Whurr, 2002), Sheila Oglethorpe emphasizes this, encouraging people
“to employ as many of the child’s senses as possible in the hope that the stronger senses will compensate for the weaker ones”.
However, multi-sensory teaching shouldn’t be seen as a method to just use with students who have special needs – it has huge benefits for all…
Continue reading Multi-Sensory Music Teaching
Guest Post by Karen Marshall
Pushy Parent Syndrome
Is this something you are experiencing in your studio?
I recently attended a teacher meeting where a teacher was relaying her recent experiences with a very difficult parent of a young 6-year-old student. As I pondered the topic I realised that ‘pushy parent syndrome’, luckily, has not been something that I’ve recently encountered as regularly as in my young teaching years.
I felt it may be helpful to share some practices I’ve developed which have certainly made my teaching life far easier.
My approach is partly a conflict resolution one. I would add its a “work in progress” – I would never claim to have all the answers and I’m still learning constantly after over 25 years of piano teaching!
I say conflict resolution because a relationship between a teacher and parent has potential for conflict, simply because the parent purchases the lessons and the child receives them. The relationship is a triangle – if anyone has ever had a dotted line with two managers you will know first-hand the problems that can cause.
- The parent’s needs may be different to the child’s – conflict.
- The parent’s expectations may be different to the abilities of the child – conflict.
Before you know it, you are jam-sandwiched between the child and the parent. So, what are the practical things I try to employ to make things easier and – most importantly – best for the student whilst maintaining good professional practices?
Continue reading Working Positively with Parents
Guest Post by Roberta Wolff
In my previous post, which you can read here, I considered the importance of reflecting, both in teaching and learning. As such, it was a thoughtful and ‘serious’ article. However, that is not necessarily the best way to approach teaching reflection to our students. Nothing engages the student and gets the message across like a bit of creativity and fun.
This article, therefore, is focused on incorporating reflection as part of the lesson and practice process.
The trouble with reflection is that it often seems long-winded. All the amazing advice along the lines of think 10 times play once is actually very hard to carry out. Whereas, it is very easy to get locked into a cycle of thinking with your fingers – at least then it sounds like something is happening!
In teaching students to incorporate reflection, unconscious learning with the support of tools to interrupt the spell of trial and error practice is immensely productive and enjoyable.
The Musician’s tool bag, The Box and the Language of Reflection are all ways to unconsciously build in reflection time.
Continue reading The Musician’s Tool Bag
Guest post by Garreth Brooke
Those of us who grew up hearing stories of the young prodigy Mozart composing his first music aged 5, or Beethoven composing the 9th whilst already deaf, may be forgiven for sometimes assuming that composing is something rarified and mysterious, inaccessible for us ordinary folk.
But if the recent explosion of wonderful original solo piano compositions from the likes of Barbara Arens, June Armstrong, Alison Mathews and Nikolas Sideris and many others that have been featured on Pianodao teaches us nothing else, it is that composition is not reserved just for the transcendent few.
What’s more, there are many resources available that you can use to guide you through introducing composition to students.
These resources, combined with an encouraging attitude and a sense of humour, can make composing a really fun and educational activity that both you and your students will enjoy. Best of all, none of these resources require you the teacher to be a composer. All you need is an encouraging attitude and a willingness to experiment.
Below you will find a list of resources that will help you to introduce yourself and your students to composing, as well as some tips from Barbara, June, Alison and Nikolas.
Continue reading “You Composed This!”