Spring 2021: Editor's Letter: Embracing the Positi as We Emerge from our Pandemic Cocoons
After the long, dark winter, springtime represents a time for rebirth and renewal. Yet, as we head into the second year of our new "pandemic" normal, many musicians have grown weary of what they had assumed would be temporary inconveniences—teaching online, physically distant performances, and time-shifted chamber music experiences. I'm struck by how similar our forced isolation has been to the caterpillar transforming within its cocoon. From the outside, one cannot see the remarkable metamorphosis that is taking place within the protective shell of the chrysalis. While we have been holed up in our homes, we have been busy using every tool and scrap of information that we have previously and recently learned about teaching, learning, and performing to transform how we conduct these activities from our home cocoons.
We've used online video conference platforms to teach, we've engaged our students in recording their own practice sessions and performances to become more active listeners in their own homes, and we've found creative ways to gather audiences for regular performances. No wonder we are tired—this hasn't been a dormant wintertime rest—it has been an active and productive period for many of us (though it may not appear so to the outsider). We've made these accommodations out of necessity, but like the butterfly, we will emerge from our pandemic cocoons forever changed—transformed for the better.
I am confident that we will, one day, return to the crowded concert hall to hear fresh new artists embarking upon their careers and masters continuing to refine their craft and interpretations. Musicians will travel great distances to make music together and to convene at conferences to share ideas and learn from one another. I know that we will return to some of our age-old ways of creating, sharing, and making music together because music has to be made and shared with others and many of these methods have survived the test of time. While some people are content to study independently, many of us crave the opportunity to step onto the stage and commune with the composer's music through live performance with other musicians and in-person audiences. Likewise, teachers will welcome groups of students of all ages and stages into their studios where they can sit at the piano together. Within that shared space, they will guide pupils as they explore technique, revel in the glorious sounds produced at the keyboard, and learn to play new repertoire.
Beyond simply changing us, our time in the pandemic cocoon has awakened us to new ways of teaching, learning, and making music. I'm confident that we will carry with us many of the blessings discovered during our time of pandemic isolation. Even after we have returned to a semblance of pre-pandemic teaching and performing, many of us will:
These are just a few of the positive changes that we may carry back to our face-to-face teaching in the coming months and years. Meanwhile, we continue to share best practices in teaching (online and in person) and pursue opportunities for our professional development via our online music communities. The Piano Magazine continues to provide much needed resources.
In this issue, we share articles from teachers about how they work with students who want decisive answers (when interpreting a symbolic language left by composers from bygone eras), how they approach teaching difficult students, and how our interactions and personal relationship with our students have taken on renewed importance. We commemorate educational composer Eugénie Rocherolle's birthday and celebrate seventy years of composing with an interview about her career. And, we preview the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, by providing a sneak peek of thirteen content-packed days of specialized preconference scheduling. As always, you'll find information about new books, music, and recordings to nourish your musical spirit and teaching craft in the coming months.
We hope that this issue of the Piano Magazine provides ideas for your teaching, playing, and professional development as you emerge from the dark days of winter and your pandemic cocoon.