This past week or so a last minute email from the Alberta Piano Teacher’s Association went out to all the area piano teachers saying it was very short notice but just wondering if anyone would like to get together for a pedagogy discussion and some coffee. Though it was only a few days notice, we had the best turnout ever for our monthly meeting we call “Pedagogy Etude”. Why? We all decided that maybe it’s because being a piano teacher in an independent teaching studio can be a bit of a lonely job. Sure, we have wonderful students and families who enter our studios each week bringing smiles and enthusiasm, but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that is very solitary (like practicing, writing blogs, newsletters, lesson planning, book-keeping, emailing, etc). It’s so nice to be able to get together with other teachers and collaborate and encourage.
This, in turn, brought the discussion around to our students and how piano, being a solo instrument, can be a lonely road to travel. And, though we discovered that most of us like to incorporate little practice and performance incentives, we started brainstorming ideas that could help motivate and encourage our students.
I was asked to share a little bit about how I regularly group lessons (masterclasses) into my lesson calendar and how it provides a practice incentive through the performance aspect of the masterclass but how it also fills that social need we all have through ensemble playing and games.
Another idea that was expressed was “seeing it live”. We talked about how important it is for our students to regularly see music performed. Not just our own studio recitals and seeing and hearing their peers play or listening to their teachers play for them (though that IS important) but getting out to live performances. My own mom made it a priority to get me out to various productions of live music, whether it was the community Singing Christmas Tree or a trip to the next town over to see a travelling production of “The Sound of Music” or “Amal and the Night Visitors” and I will never forget those special times. Here in the city we are so fortunate to have so many opportunities around us with The Citadel Theatre and the Winspear Centre and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. We also have great schools like Edmonton Musical Theatre, Strathcona Christian Academy, Eastglen High School and many more arts schools that regularly put on musicals each year like “Phantom of the Opera” or “Oliver” or “Once Upon a Mattress”.
I would encourage you to get on google and find a live performance at some point this fall or winter, many are inexpensive and some are even free. My family and I have already enjoyed a fantastic Broadway Revue by Edmonton Musical Theatre and an outstanding production of Oliver by SCA this year and are looking very much forward to seeing:
2 Pianos, 4 Hands at the Citadel Theatre (October 26-November 17 tickets start at just $35) The Citadel also puts on the most amazing annual production of A Christmas Carol which we generally attend every couple of years)http://www.citadeltheatre.com/events/
Cats, Festival Place in Sherwood Park, AB (December 19-30, tickets are $24-37) http://www.festivalplace.ab.ca/festivalplace/boxoffice/showinfo.php?id=699
Symphony Cirque, Esso Symphony for Kids, Winspear Centre (May 11, 2014, tickets are $13-29) http://www.winspearcentre.com/symphony-for-kids/2012-2013-symphony-for-kids/symphony-cirque/