Words of Wisdom

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Whatever method is used, our experience so far makes it clear that when we use a child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown, and to gain some control over it, without trying to force him faster or further than he feels ready to go, both pupil and teacher have the most fun and make the most progress.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Tapping into the child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown makes all the difference!

Food for thought: What are examples of ways we can do this as teachers?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Children’s need to make sense of the world and to be skillful in it is as deep and strong as their need for food or rest or sleep.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Thoughts for today: Young children have a strong drive to learn and make sense of the world around them! How can we as teachers harness this natural curiosity? How can we as adults maintain this youthful approach to the world around us?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Most of us are tactful enough with other adults not to point out their errors, but not many of us are ready to extend this courtesy (or any other courtesy, for that matter) to children.”

–John Holt (in How Children Learn)

When students make errors, how do YOU respond? Do you quickly and thoughtlessly point out errors, or do you skillfully allow time and opportunity for students to notice and correct errors themselves?

I’m sure we all find ourselves occasionally jumping in too quickly with the “right answer” in our teaching. (When I find myself doing it, it tends to be when I am feeling the pressure of the clock at the end of the lesson time!) In our best teaching, though, we play the “long game” and invest in helping our students become independent. We give students the appropriate amount of challenge (not too much, not too little) according to what they are ready for. We concoct skillful teaching questions that prompt students to learn to hear musical differences on their own. We give them skills and strategies that will increasingly allow them to learn for themselves. And we allow students TIME to think! This creates valuable learning opportunities for our students. Over time, students become increasingly independent and able to teach themselves.

As an aside: It’s not that we are to see errors as inherently “bad.” They aren’t. While we might not want mistakes hanging around for a long time, we must acknowledge they are a natural part of the learning process. To the skillful teacher or learner, errors are incredibly helpful information.

One final point: The above quote from John Holt reminds us of the importance of respecting children. Perhaps this seems obvious or comes easily to you — or perhaps not. I think it’s a good reminder for us all. We ALL — not just children — learn best when our basic needs are met and when we feel respected and valued. Respecting our students means using kindness, truly listening to them, giving age-appropriate choices and responsibilities, and more. (If you’re interested, you can read about what the Montessori approach has to say about respecting children here.)

Happy Wednesday, friends! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Interviews

TEACHER FEATURE: Chad Twedt, Pianist, Teacher, & Composer

In today’s post, please enjoy an interesting and insightful interview with pianist and teacher Chad Twedt (pronounced “tweed”). I’ve known Chad for a number years, having connected online thanks to blogging. Chad’s blog, Cerebroom, is where he posts occasional in-depth articles about topics relating to music and more. Below, I ask him to share about his recently released online course called The Art of Rubato, his teaching philosophy, and his compositions, among other things.


Hi, Chad! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. Would you begin by telling us a little bit about you and how you got into teaching?

Thanks Joy, I’m honored!  

I have a master’s degree in piano performance and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I love composing, performing, teaching, thinking/researching, watching movies, writing, coding, and playing tennis.

In high school, people used to ask me the dreaded question that almost no high schooler can answer: “What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?”  I used to answer, “I don’t know… the only thing I know for sure is that I’m not going to be a teacher.”  I said this because the only people I saw teaching were public school teachers who, in my view, had a difficult job – sometimes horrifically difficult, dealing with kids in every class who didn’t really want to be there.  I also hadn’t met any male private piano teachers. Becoming a piano teacher wasn’t even on my radar.

I started teaching in 1997 reluctantly when a 10-year-old kid who sat in the front row in my undergraduate junior recital begged to take lessons from me.  I told his parents that I was a performer, not a teacher.  He apparently really wanted to study with me, because they called me back the next day and pleaded with me again to give it a try.  I agreed, and I was nervous I’d run out of things to say after the first 10 minutes.  The opposite happened – I felt like each 30-minute lesson was way too short.  Unfortunately, the kid never practiced.  His parents later told me he idolized me and just wanted to be around me, so he only lasted a month as a student, but it was enough for me to realize that teaching piano was something I was good at and deeply interested in.  I felt I owed it to myself to explore it some more.  Fast forward 20+ years, and here I am!

As a piano teacher, what are your goals for your students? 

In each lesson, I am obsessively focused on preparing students to practice effectively at home.  This obsession increased tenfold after I did a ton of research into metacognition, which is the idea of “thinking about thinking.”  It is what allows students to plan a practice/study strategy, monitor that strategy, and evaluate the success of that strategy, rather than just mindlessly seeking pleasure, producing minimal results.  Students of all ages, especially adults, naturally exhibit metacognitive knowledge and skill when they study for academic tests, but they tend to be far less mindful when practicing piano.

Continue reading “TEACHER FEATURE: Chad Twedt, Pianist, Teacher, & Composer”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

John Holt (in How Children Learn)

This quote reminds us that learning does not automatically happen just because there is a teacher. Learning happens thanks to the activity of the learner. A healthy learning environment is learning-centered, not teaching-centered.

Points to ponder: As teachers, how can we facilitate and encourage environments that are conducive for learning? How can we help our learners be engaged in active learning during piano lessons? What can we do to set them up for success? And how can we support students with learning independently on their own during home practice?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning.”

–John Holt, in How Children Learn

Who can’t help but enjoy the privilege of seeing the world through a little one’s eyes? Watch a little child, and it’s plain to see how much they love the world. John Holt says that love is what makes them such good learners. I think we have much we can learn from children.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“We don’t always have to be in such a big hurry to correct children’s mistakes. We can afford to give them time to notice and correct them themselves.”

–John Holt (in How Children Learn)


Today’s food for thought: What would happen if we weren’t so quick to make corrections of young children? What potential benefit is there to allowing others time to notice and correct their own mistakes? Does this apply only to young children, or for older students as well?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Music History

Roundup: Music History Resources

Our 12-year blogiversary celebration continues! In today’s roundup, we will take a look at the music history related resources available on my blog. I’ve also included here some printables for learning the instruments of the orchestra. As you’ll see, these are all useful resources particularly for group classes. Perhaps you’ll see something you want to incorporate into your studio classes or a camp this summer!

Don’t forgot — if you are interested in any of the paid items below from my shop, you can use the promo code 12YEARS to receive 20% off your purchase (good though March 31st, 2021). Thanks for supporting my blog! I hope you’ll discover — or re-discover — some great freebies or paid resources in the roundup below.


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History of Audio Formats – Lesson Plan | When I was gifted a 1929 Victor Victrola gramophone some years ago, I was inspired to create a lesson plan for my students so we could learn more about the various methods used over the decades for recording audio. This free PDF contains a lesson plan, craft activity, and slides for students to learn about wax cylinders, records, 8-tracks, tape cassettes, CDs, and more! It’s perfect for group classes or music camps. I hope your students will enjoy learning about the history of audio recording methods as much as my mine did! Learn more here. >>>


  History of Audio Formats - Lesson Plan (6.7 MiB, 7,844 hits)

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Composition

TEACHER FEATURE: Andy Villemez on his Creative Commissions Project (CCP)

Last year when I blogged about my composition Where the Train Tracks End, I mentioned my Ohio-based colleague, Andy Villemez — the mastermind behind the Creative Commissions Project (CCP). In this blog post, I thought it would be fun to interview Andy and learn more about CCP!

In a nutshell, CCP seeks to bring working composers in direct conversation with music teachers and their students. Each student is paired with a composer who writes a piece based on the student’s current technical and musical abilities, personality, and interests. I was involved with CCP back in 2017 as a composer. I wrote two pieces — one for a student in Durham, NC and another for a student in Columbus, OH. 

Let’s have a conversation with Andy to learn more about this project!

Continue reading “TEACHER FEATURE: Andy Villemez on his Creative Commissions Project (CCP)”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words — TRUST CHILDREN. Nothing could be more simple — or more difficult.”

–John Holt, in How Children Learn


Stay tuned for more quotes and my full review of John Holt’s classic book, How Children Learn, coming soon! For now, enjoy today’s quote that encourages us to trust students when it comes to their own learning. I couldn’t agree more with Holt that trust is an important part of creating a warm, positive learning environment for students.

Happy Wednesday, my readers!

Composition

Roundup: Composition/Improvisation Resources for Piano Teachers

Our 12-year Blogiversary Celebration continues! In today’s post, I’d like to round up a few of my favorite resources (both free and paid) on my blog relating to composition and improvisation.

Composition and improvisation are skills I love integrating into my teaching. When students show an interest in creating their own pieces, I always foster this and coach them through the process of formulating and notating their compositions. To help expose all of my students to composition, I offer a composition-themed summer camp at least every-other-year. I use improvisation, in simple but natural ways, in my teaching too — although I’d like to get better at doing more!

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In this blog post, there are three main sections: (1) First, I will first round up my free printables related to composition and improvisation. (2) Then, I’ll list some blog post links to some articles that discuss how to integrate improvisation and composition into your teaching. (3) Finally, I will tell you about two paid resources from my shop you might find useful for teaching composition and improvisation to your piano students.

I hope you’ll discover — or rediscover — some fun resources you can use in your teaching!

Continue reading “Roundup: Composition/Improvisation Resources for Piano Teachers”