Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Chinese proverb

With whom does the responsibility for learning lie: the teacher, or the student?

The answer: probably both. The question presents a false dichotomy. (As my pastor growing up used to say: When you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.)

The reality is that both parties share some responsibility in the process of education.

But teachers, let’s focus on ourselves for a moment: How can we open the door for our students? But further, what can we do to help empower our students to enter by themselves?

And now considering our teacher selves as the lifelong learners we are, and putting ourselves in the shoes of the students in our care: How can we help ourselves enter the doorways of learning?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Abigail Adams

Learning requires a little skin in the game. It’s not likely to happen just by chance. Learning comes around thanks to passion for the subject matter and a zeal for learning. Plus, a healthy amount of some good ole’ elbow grease.

How do you help YOUR students fully apply and invest themselves in learning?

General, Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

Learning is truly an investment. It’s a sacrifice made in the hope that we will reap the benefits of knowledge many times over.

There are so many different ways to spend our time, energy, and resources. But in my experience, investing in knowledge tends to pay off and prove worthwhile to my quality of life…especially when it’s something I’m deeply interested in!

Do you agree? What have YOU invested to learn recently?

General, Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.”

Muriel Spark

Learning is risky.

It means our self esteem might take a blow. It means our attempts might look inept. It means we might realize just how much we don’t know.

Young children don’t have this problem. They are accustomed to having to learn new things all the time. And as the quote points out, they have little awareness of their own self-importance. As a result, they generally aren’t shy about jumping in to try something new!

Maybe we can “stay young” and learn from kids. We can choose to not allow our pride to get hurt when we are in those awkward learning stages. Maybe we can try to recover quickly, laugh it off, and not allow those moments to get to us.

How can we help our students, as they grow up, stay open to risky learning experiences?

Because learning is worth the risk.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Take the attitude of a student: never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”

OG Mandino

This message is a GOOD ONE for us to keep in mind as we all become older and wiser. We are naturally good learners as children, but as we grow up sometimes we become less willing or less open to learning new things.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can assume the attitude of a student, no matter how old we are. We can be comfortable with the fact that we don’t know everything. We can be willing to ask questions. We can be EXCITED when there are opportunities to learn new things.

Moreover, we can MODEL this attitude for the young ones in our charge. Have your students witnessed your excitement to try out new piano literature with them? Have they seen you introduce new resources, teaching aids, or projects? Have they seen you perform in your studio recitals? Have they heard about your own practice strategies? Have they seen you embrace new technology? If so, that’s awesome!!

As teachers, let’s strive to not only be the best teachers we can be, but also the best learners we can be.

Announcements

Session Starting Soon! – My EXCELLENCE IN PIANO TEACHING Online Course

Hi there! Just a quick post today…

How would you like to take a piano pedagogy course from the comfort of your own home?

The next offering of my six-week course, EXCELLENCE IN PIANO TEACHING starts up very soon! It will run October 7 – November 18, 2019. Here’s a peek at what you’ll learn each week:

  1. Business Sense. We’ll get your finances organized so you can focus on the part we all love most: teaching!
  2. On Teaching and Learning. You’ll learn how to maximize student learning through teaching strategies that are research-based and time-tested.
  3. Conducting the Piano Lesson. You’ll learn how to plan for and use in-lesson time in a way most conducive to student success.
  4. All About Piano Methods. You’ll learn the purpose, benefits, and limitations of piano method books and become familiar with the today’s most popular method books.
  5. Piano Technique for Beginners. You’ll learn how to nurture your students towards playing the piano healthily, efficiently, and – most importantly – expressively.
  6. The Student’s Repertoire. You’ll learn how to choose piano literature for your students that is appropriate and suitable so they are happily advancing in their piano studies!

Here’s a video overview and a peek inside the course, so you can see if the [Excellence in Piano Teaching] course is right for you.

Intrigued? Visit the Piano Teacher Institute with Joy Morin website and be sure to join the email list there! Registration links will be emailed out soon.

Thanks for reading!

Teaching Piano

Meet Lucia, Piano Teacher in Puerto Rico!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were in Puerto Rico. I highly recommend it as a fun place to vacation! The culture is different enough from the mainland U.S. that it feels a bit exotic, and yet, it’s familiar enough to the point where you can get around easily. Many of the locals speak English in addition to Spanish. There’s so much history to experience, great food, beaches, gorgeous weather, and fun excursions such as snorkeling and the rainforest. You can’t go wrong!

Before our trip, I connected with Puerto Rican piano teacher Lucia Fernandez, thanks to Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey method Facebook group (check out my review of Irina’s method book here). Lucia and her husband arranged a lovely dinner meetup for us and the couple we were vacationing with.

A couple of days later, Lucia picked me up to visit her home studio. It’s always fun to get a peek into a fellow piano teacher’s studio, right? Lucia agreed to allow me to feature her home studio here on my blog for you to see. 🙂

Continue reading “Meet Lucia, Piano Teacher in Puerto Rico!”
Teaching Piano

Teachers As Learners

I remember my band instructor from high school as the type of teacher who is always working to improve their craft. It wasn’t unusual during any given rehearsal for him to introduce and implement a new teaching idea or learning activity he had picked up, whether from a book or colleague at a music educator’s conference.

He was a wonderful role model for us students. Even as a high schooler, I admired his choice to consider himself ever on a journey towards self-improvement as a teacher.

As a music educator myself today, I am on that same journey. I want to be — and am — the kind of teacher who is always learning, always trying something new, and always improving.

No matter how new or already-experienced I am at something, I prefer to take this approach of striving for self-improvement. As my pastor sometimes says: “It’s fine to be where you are. It’s not fine to stay there.”

Learning involves experimentation and “it might not work.” There might be failures or less-than-successes. Mistakes.

Learning also involves possibility. The possibility of being able to do something you couldn’t do before. The possibility of insight, new skill, more ease.

Even though it’s a messy process and doesn’t (normally) go in a straight line, I personally choose to find learning enjoyable. No matter the topic area, I’m interested in opportunities to learn new things — although at times I must make choices about what I have or don’t have time to devote energy toward.

I know I’m not unique in this regard. When I talk to other teachers, I often observe a similar mental posture. A positive energy towards new ideas. An openness to change and the possibility of being wrong.

We teachers tend to be learners.

This, most likely, is why we are teachers: we love the learning process.

My thought for the day is this:

Do we consciously model for our students what it means to be an eager learner? How openly can we demonstrate being the sort of learner we want each of our students to be? How can we display our open attitude towards change and improvement, as my high school band instructor did?

After all, such is the purpose of a teacher:

The ultimate goal of the teacher is not to create those who have learned, but to create learners.

• • •

Call to Action:

Leave a comment: How can YOU openly model for your students how to be a learner? And what new things are you currently learning in your endeavors?

 

repertoire / methods, Retreat

2017 Piano Teacher Retreat

Hello, readers!

I’m so excited to share with you some photos from the three-day Piano Teacher Retreat I hosted earlier this month.  

On Thursday the 17th, 12 piano teachers arrived for our retreat activities. They came from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Ontario (Canada), …and even as far as Georgia!

Including my friend Amy Chaplin (who was in charge of delicious meals for us!) and myself, this added up to 14 piano teachers in “Piano Manor” — which is what my students and I fondly call my home studio. 🙂

My chief goal with my Piano Teacher Retreat was to create a professional development experience with no single “expert” to learn from, but instead with all attendees collaborating and sharing their thoughts and experiences, toward the goal of growing together to become better teachers.

Don’t get me wrong: I love conferences, but if we really want to create an experience that results in the greatest amount of learning, we need to create learning experiences that very closely replicate the actual desired skill or behavior.

To that end, this was not a professional development experience where attendees sat in their seats and passively listened. Nope. At Piano Teacher Retreat, everybody participates. 🙂 All 14 of us kept busy through group discussion sessions, studying certain method books with a partner, and presenting our findings with the rest of the group. We were hands-on and interactive!

Continue reading “2017 Piano Teacher Retreat”

repertoire / methods

Video: A Peek Inside the Littlest Piano Method Book You Ever Did See

Hi there!

Earlier today, I went live on Facebook to take a peek inside the littlest piano method book in my collection. 🙂 It’s called “Little Players: A Piano Book For Very Young Beginners,” by Robert Nolan Kerr. The copyright year is 1941.

I found this book among a boxful of other old sheet music I received from a retiring piano teacher. It’s an interesting piece of history. Join me in taking a closer look at this book!

Here is the Facebook Live video.

Here is what’s covered in the video:

  • 0:37  Check out the size of this little book compared to a typical-sized method book.
  • 1:47  Take a guess: which reading approach is used by this method book?
  • 3:06  Find out what “very young beginner” age the author intended this book to be for. Today, I think publications generally use “very young beginners” to mean age 4-6.
  • 3:27  Find out which touch (non-legato, legato, or staccato) the author expects the student will use throughout the book.
  • 4:30  Check out the 1940s era illustrations.
  • 5:42  It’s nice to see pieces in both duple and triple meter early on.
  • 6:11  This book contains a few interesting activities requiring students to experience meter through listening and moving to music the teacher plays.
  • 8:15  This is a method where the student is learning to play pieces through a combination of note and rote learning. Singing also seems to be encouraged.
  • 11:42  An early page in this book indicates that it was for group or individual instruction. Can you picture a classroom full of school children, each with their own copy of this little book?! 🙂

Thanks for exploring this old method book with me!

Questions for you: Have you ever before seen such an adorable mini-sized piano method book?! Do you teach your beginners to play with legato touch first, or do you do something else first? What other interesting observations do you have after taking a virtual peek with me inside this interesting piece of pedagogical history?

Thanks for watching!

P.S.: Why am I looking through old piano method books? It’s because I’m in the midst of preparations for Retreat at Piano Manor which I will be hosting later this summer, August 17-19, 2017! During the retreat, we will be looking through piano method books from across the decades, uncovering pedagogical wisdom relevant for us today. Be sure to watch the facebook page and here on the blog for future videos about piano methods.