Pathways for Teaching
With these striking words, contemporary Daoist author Deng Ming-Dao invites us to consider how our personal qualities can help us be the best people, and by extension, the best teachers that we can be:
“Those who follow Dao believe in using sixteen attributes on behalf of others: mercy, gentleness, patience, non attachment, control, skill, joy, spiritual love, humility, reflection, restfulness, seriousness, effort, controlled emotion, magnanimity, and concentration. Whenever you need to help another, draw on these qualities.”
Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao Daily Meditations, 188 (Harper Collins)
So let’s be clear from the start: what is on offer here is the secret of how to be successful in helping others, in any context. A lot of us will devote much of a lifetime to discovering the answers which are presented right here.
But how about applying this directly to our work as piano teachers?
In this post I am going to look at each of these attributes in turn, briefly exploring the powerful links that exist between a teacher’s character and the quality and effectiveness of their teaching…
Continue reading 16 Attributes of a Good Teacher
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 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!”