The last two weekends, I hosted a piano teacher retreat at my home in southeast Michigan with two groups of teachers. I’m still reeling from all the fun we had and memories made! It’s been a full and rewarding couple of weeks to be sure.
In this post, I’ll share some photos and highlights from this year’s retreat, along with a quick bit of backstory behind these events.
In recent conversations with a couple of piano teachers, I was asked there is a review available here on my blog about Music Play, a book I like to draw from for movement and ear/audiation activities with my young daughter and my piano students. Look no further, friends — here’s my full review!
Have you heard of “audiation” before, but perhaps weren’t exactly sure what it meant? Have you wondered: why do we need this new word? Why should audiation matter to us as musicians and music educators?
Audiation isn’t an idea that is going away anytime soon. We are going to continue hearing more about audiation within music education circles. As the term “audiation” is becoming more widely known and increasingly used, it would benefit us to ensure that we have a clear and accurate understanding of the term.
Why did Edwin Gordon coin the term “audiation”?
The term “audiation” was coined around 1976 by music professor, researcher, theorist, and author Dr. Edwin Gordon (1927-2015). Audiation is the central focus of a collection of theories about how music is learned, known as Music Learning Theory (MLT).
Audiation refers to a mental process that is both a natural and integral part of music making — and has been since the beginning of time — but has gone unnamed (at least, in the English language) until Gordon came along.
I recently came across this video by musician Victor Wooten on YouTube and thought to myself: the ideas expressed here fit very well with MLT (Music Learning Theory)!
Below are my favorite points from this video, along with some of my own commentary regarding the agreement with MLT.
1. Music is in many ways like a language. Think about the way you learned to speak as a child.
MLT practitioners find it very useful to compare the process of language acquisition to music acquisition. It’s not a perfect comparison (as with any analogy), but I have personally found it to be an incredibly useful analogy to keep in mind as a piano teacher.
2. Imagine children being allowed to speak only with those at their same speaking level. It would stunt their progress compared to being allowed to interact with more experienced speakers such as their parents. It’s the same with music: it’s helpful for students to jam along with professionals.
This is a good reminder to play often alongside our students, whether it’s informal duet-playing during lessons or preparation for a performance. And to have our students play together. And consider other ways we can provide opportunities for students to experience playing alongside professional musicians.
This is related to the reason why I like combining multiple ages/levels among my students at our monthly group classes, “Piano Parties.” Students already have individual lesson time instruction customized to their age and level, so why not combine levels for monthly group classes? They can learn so much from interacting with and watching each other. It’s about creating opportunity for the less experienced students to learn from the more experienced, and more experienced students to model for and mentor the less experienced. Continue reading “YouTube: Music as a Language by Victor Wooten”→
We’ve accomplished so much in the realm piano pedagogy over the decades. So many fine teachers, fine books, and fine pedagogical piano literature.
The music education community can tout similar advancements, and yet we piano teachers tend to know so little of them. We know little of the theories and recent research regarding music learning, and of the approaches music educators use in the school systems. Does anyone else find it odd?
There seems to be a certain degree of separation between the worlds of piano pedagogy and music education. We don’t interact much. We took separate courses while in college. We have separate professional organizations.
Do we piano pedagogues consider ourselves under the same umbrella as music educators?