The Piano Teacher’s Posture

All good piano teachers are concerned to teach and monitor good posture to their students, and as players we are hopefully equally aware of our own posture at the piano.

But how about our posture when we are teaching?
This, in my experience, can too easily be overlooked as a less important concern.

I am trying to address my own posture while teaching, so write this article to share my experiences and findings, while also suggesting a few easy tricks that other piano teachers can incorporate into their thinking and practice where helpful.

In this article I will hope to touch upon:

  • Should we sit less, and if so how?
  • What about good posture?
  • What other factors have an impact on our working environment?

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EPTA Piano Teachers’ Course

I am delighted to tell readers that I have accepted an invitation to join the Principal Tutor team for the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA) UK Piano Teachers’ Course.

I will be joining the esteemed colleagues that I am pictured with above (photo by Jennie Parke Matheson) – from the left, Ilga Pitkevica, Sally Cathcart, me, Lucinda Mackworth-Young, Graham Fitch and Heli Ignatius-Fleet.

The PTC is a part-time course, designed to suit those with other commitments, running with the academic year from October through to June. It consists of four residential weekends, two single Sundays and independent study and assignments spread throughout the year.

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Online Piano Teacher Training with the RCM

Guest post by Garreth Brooke

“Like many other piano teachers I have studied music but not pedagogy…

When I first began teaching after finishing my music degree this did not seem such a problem, and certainly it did not stop me from finding work or  my students from telling me that I’m a good teacher. Increasingly, however, I’ve realised that if I want to be a great piano teacher I need to be trained both as a pianist and as a teacher. It doesn’t matter how much we know about music or how well we can play, we have to also understand how to communicate that knowledge effectively to our students.

A 2014 survey on the UK-based Cross-Eyed Pianist blog of private piano teachers revealed that less than half of the respondents had teaching diplomas, and only 30% had training in music pedagogy. This is understandable. Piano teaching often comes as a result of a passion for playing the piano, not because we have always wanted to be a teacher. I’m certainly true in that regard, and indeed actively avoided teaching until forced to by circumstance, when I realised to my surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In an ideal world, once we realise we want to be a piano teacher, we’d all be able to afford to take 3 years off and get a degree in music pedagogy but unfortunately that’s rarely – if ever –  realistic. Luckily there are several options for part time study for teachers who are based in the UK or who use the UK examination boards, including studying for a diploma with an exam board like ABRSM or Trinity, getting a qualification from a pedagogical group like Suzuki or Kodaly, attending the EPTA’s Practical Piano Teaching course, or signing up for the Curious Piano Teachers.

None of these, however, allow you to get a qualification from a recognised examination board from the comfort of your own home and I was therefore excited to learn about the RCM’s Online Piano Teacher Specialist Course. (NB for Brits – this is the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music, not the Royal College of Music).

I eagerly signed up and I am just beginning week 3 of a 10 week course, and I’m thrilled to have been invited to share my first impressions with you on Pianodao.

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Time to rethink Practice Notebooks?

Sheet Music Reviews

As a child learning the piano, almost all of my teachers used a notebook to write down practice instructions, and more often than not included messages to parents and assessment of progress. As a teacher I have generally adopted a similar practice, asking each student to bring a simple shorthand pad (or more special writing book) to their lessons. Whether or not they read my notes (and in many cases I doubt it!) the notebook has always been a useful reminder during the lesson itself, and makes it easier to track progress towards specific goals.

Quite apart from whether pupils read their notebooks (according to Paul Harris, research indicates that 85% don’t) the use of a basic writing pad can be problematic. I often find that student practice notebooks have been used for other purposes, with pages missing, doodles, shopping lists, inexplicable messages and stains of unknown provenance.

On one occasion a child even brought a notebook that included his mother’s sums working out the cost of a cannabis order!

So the case for using a special bespoke notebook is a strong one – especially if it incorporates additional information to help students…

Continue reading Time to rethink Practice Notebooks?