Each morning and afternoon at the NCKP, there are publisher showcases to choose from where you can learn about method books or supplementary materials. Often, you will receive free books at these showcases, as you’ve already seen in my first NCKP post showing off my “loot!”
Below is more about four of the showcases I attended:
1. FJH Music Publishing Company: Succeeding at the Piano — a Method for Everyone!, by Helen Marlais.
Dr. Marlais is a professor at Grand Valley State University, a college near my hometown. In fact, I auditioned to be a music major at GVSU after I completed my first two years at Grand Rapids Community College (but decided to go to Hope College instead)! :) The two colleagues who accompanied me to the NCKP have had Dr. Marlais as their teachers at GVSU. Small world.
Dr. Marlais has such a vibrant personality. In this session, she led us through levels 2A and 2B of her new method called “Succeeding at the Piano.” I just love the illustrations used in this method. I also really like the “composer friends” characters who learn with the student throughout the books.
2. Faber Piano Adventures: Guiding Your Students’ Piano Adventures, by Randall Faber.
Dr. Faber is such a gracious and knowledgeable person. In this session, he talked briefly about the new 2nd Editions of the Piano Adventures method and about Hal Leonard now being their partner for distribution. Then he discussed a few practical teaching topics while showing some videos clip of his wife Nancy teaching. He recommends teaching students to towards pattern recognition. He also feels that students learn through imitation, so we as teachers need to model how the student should approach learning at the piano. If we show curiosity and exploration throughout the lesson, the student will be too.
There was one video clip in particular that struck me. To teach a student about half steps, Nancy Faber created a spooky piece of music together with her student in the video! Nancy played the first note, and the student had to find and play the key that is a half step above her note. It’s improvising and learning all wrapped up in one exercise!
Later in the conference, I attended Dr. Faber’s session called “Student-Centered Teaching,” which was absolutely excellent — stay tuned to read those notes soon!
3. Willis Music: William Gillock – “The Schubert of Children’s Composers, by Glenda Austin.
William Gillock was a composer for Willis Music who has since passed away. Many teachers may be familiar with his music. Ms. Austin stated that the purpose of this session was to tell the new, younger generation of teachers about this wonderful music that has stood the test of time. The room was nearly full at this session, of both seasoned and young teachers.
Many of Gillock’s most popular pieces have now been compiled into a single collections which are now available through Willis Music. One of them is the “Classic Piano Repertoire – William Gillock” book for intermediate through advanced students, which is one of the books that we showcase attendees received free. In addition, Ms. Austin has recently arranged Gillock’s New Orleans Jazz Styles books into duet books! Gillock’s music is in one word wonderful, and I can see why it has stood the test of time for students and teachers.
4. Neil A Kjos Music Company: Minimusic: A Solid Foundation for Young Beginners, by Paula Manwaring.
Paula is the creator of an early childhood program called Minimusic, which is designed to introduce music theory to students prior to formal music lessons. It is intended for teachers to be able to offer group lessons for young beginners ages 4 to 7. The best part of all is that is requires no special teacher training, and you are allowed (and even encouraged!) to modify the lesson plans to suit your own teaching style and goals.
I’ve discussed here on the blog before about how I really want to be able to offer pre-piano classes for young beginners. I, unfortunately do not currently have the money to pay for the required teaching training that most early childhood music programs require, however I do feel that I am qualified to teach some kind of pre-piano course. I think that the Minimusic program is just what I was looking for! After hearing Paula talk about her program, I decided to take advantage of the conference discount and purchase the MiniMusic kit, which normally retails for about $200.
Many of the materials included in the kit are great resources for group lessons and games with students of ANY age. Even if you aren’t planning offer pre-piano classes, I might recommend buying this kit anyway just because of all the great resources included! There aren’t really any good pictures of the kit’s materials on the Kjos website, so I’ve taken my own photos so you can see for yourself what the MiniMusic kit includes….which I will be sharing later today if I have time, or perhaps tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!! Update: here’s the link to the post with photos!