MTNA 2015 conference notes continued…
8:00–9:00 a.m.: Exhibitor Showcase by The Royal Conservatory: Teaching Sight Reading, Improvising, Arranging and Interpreting–In Every Lesson! by Forrest Kinney
Forrest Kinney is an engaging speaker with a great sense of humor! His session was a lot of fun. Forrest talked about his ChordPlay series, Pattern Play series, some of the 2015 RCM Syllabus changes, and his participation in revising the new 2015 editions of the Four Star Sightreading and Ear Training books.
9:15–10:15 a.m.: Seeing Is Believing: Using Visual Tools To Engage, Create And Motivate, by Andrea J. McAlister, NCTM
Andrea began by asking: Why visual learning? Research suggests that most learners are visual learners — perhaps up to 83% of us. Andrea suggested, however, that rather than over-focusing on learning styles, we need as teachers should be most interested in student engagement.
The development of drawing is similar to the young child’s experience with the piano. Age 2, scribbles. Age 3-4, they start creating butterflies with the high sounds, and dragons with the low sounds. At age 6, we start to take away drawing — but maybe we shouldn’t. Doodling gets a bad rap, but it’s quite beneficial. You can doodle through drawing, moving, or making music. It’s spontaneous. Doodling might increase engagement.
Activity: Andrea played a short ABA piece as we drew on paper with crayons. Everyone’s drawing or interpretation was different. As Andrea demonstrated, there are many possible ways to combine art and music.
Throughout her session, Andrea suggested a variety of ways teachers can integrate more visuals in their teaching. One practical idea is to allow for student assignments to be student-drawn. Student assignments can be notated often more simply and interestingly through drawings/doodles instead of words. Allowing students to write requires more time initially, but it saves more time in the long run because students are learning to solve their own problems.
This was a fun and engaging session!
10:30 a.m.–12:00 noon: Advanced Piano Master Class with Lang Lang
Lang Lang unfortunately arrived a half hour late for the masterclass session, so the sessions with each college student were rather short. However, it was quite interesting to watch him coach the three students.
2:15–3:15 p.m.: New Wine In Old Bottles: The Piano Nocturnes of Lowell Liebermann, by Karen Kushner; Diana Helfers Petrella; Jane Solose, NCTM; Robert Weirich; from U of Missouri-Kansas City.
In this session, UMKC faculty described a recent project they completed with their piano majors: learning the nocturnes of Lowell Liebermann. As part of the project, Liebermann himself visited UMKC to give a masterclass. UMKC students were present to demonstrate and perform some of the nocturnes for us. They also described the positive impact of the experience of learning new, non-standard repertoire and interacting with the composer. A handout was provided that leveled the nocturnes and gave brief descriptions of each piece. It was neat to hear unfamiliar repertoire and hear about the success of UMKC’s project!
8:00 p.m.: Ann Schein Piano Recital
Later in the evening, we returned for the Ann Schein recital. Ann gave an incredible performance of Beethoven’s “Les Adieux,” Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, and the Chopin Sonata No. 3. Her playing is so rich, beautiful, and tasteful. It was a evening to remember!