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A legacy of excellence: An interview with John and Nancy Weems

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Through their teaching, John and Nancy Weems have instilled in their students a love for music and a commitment to artistic pianism. In addition to a long-standing record of top awards in local, district, and state Texas Music Teachers Association competitions, John has taught winners of the National MTNA Baldwin Junior Achievement Award, the Natio...
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Piano Method Review: Tales of a Musical Journey

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Tales of a Musical Journey, by Irina Gorin with assistance from Olga Lukantsov, is presented in the form of two chapter books for young children ages four to seven. Author Irina Gorin writes, "Books 1 and 2 cover the span of the first year of study and will sufficiently prepare the students for classical repertoire." 1 The characters in this f...
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Coping with cross-rhythms

One of the most frequent problems I have encountered with students in my teaching, examining, and adjudicating is their approach to cross-rhythms. Yet, a lack of confidence—even fear—can easily be overcome by informed analysis and practical application. I therefore encourage students to accompany me through the following stages. My examples come ex...
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Yoda eats mushroom pizza

It's the last lesson before the recital. Garrett, age five, is playing "Graduation March," the final piece in Time to Begin from The Music Tree . The B section is made up entirely of half notes and whole notes. The good news? Garrett's rhythm is perfect; a huge improvement over last week, when all of the long notes were being cut short and the acco...
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The teaching of Enrique Granados

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In addition to being a great composer, Enrique Granados was also a dedicated and innovative teacher whose pedagogical approach has been explored only recently. Many of his ideas were not published during his lifetime, but rather entered into his diaries, passed on to his pupils verbally, and annotated on scores. Many of his pedagogical works were, ...
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William Gillock: A centennial retrospective

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"To provide a musically thrilling experience." --Willam Gillock, on the purpose of student piano literature ​ I often ask my piano pedagogy students to take a few moments to reflect on their motivations for being a music major. After all, studying music is challenging and time consuming, and there's no clear-cut promise of financial riches at the e...
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Method reviews return! A review of Piano Safari

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Method reviews return! In 2009, Clavier Companion began a series of reviews exploring all of the major piano methods published at that time. Two years later, the series concluded and we had covered twelve major methods! (You can access these articles collected into a special digital issue on the claviercompanion.com website.) Since then there have ...
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I failed to plan

I try not to use clichés in this column, but lately I've been reminded of the ubiquitous quote, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." As commonplace as this saying is, it holds great truth. Some say this proverb dates back to Benjamin Franklin, though it is likely a paraphrase of his—Franklin used the word "prepare" in place of "plan." Over the la...
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Beyond the Notes: An interview with Elvina Pearce

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Elvina Pearce studied piano with Isabelle Vengerova and pedagogy with Frances Clark. For more than six decades, she has presented recitals, workshops, and master classes in more than forty states as well as in Canada, the Republic of China, and Australia. Highlights of her pianistic career include recitals in Taipei, Taiwan, and Perth, Australia, a...
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Developing sound expectations: Does the sound match the picture?

How do we develop a student's sense of musical awareness in performance? So often the wonderfully phrased and dynamically diverse musical performance in a lesson becomes a lifeless memory of its former glory when presented in public. How do we help our students develop the ability to maintain this musicality when performing for their families and f...
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Recent comment in this post
Amy Glennon
Wonderful article!
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 12:52
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Closer look: The Music of Teaching

The Music of Teaching: Learning to Trust Students' Natural Development by Barbara Kreader Skalinder By inverting two words— teaching and music — Barbara Kreader Skalinder changes what could have been a fairly mundane title to one that intrigues and gives us pause. But it is her subtitle, Learning to Trust Students' Natural Development , that grabs ...
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Studio environment: Some keys to success

Studio environment can play an important role in the success of our students with special needs. We don't tend to think of the studio as being more than a tool in the lesson, but the actual environment and the objects present can sometimes be the deciding factors in the success or failure of a lesson. Maintaining a special-needs-friendly environmen...
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Pedagogical treasures from Paul Pollei

Paul Pollei, popularly known as the "ambassador of the piano," passed away in July 2013 in Provo, Utah, leaving behind friends and colleagues on many continents, who loved him and his enthusiasm for life. He was a champion of piano pedagogy and all facets of the wide world of piano performance. He loved the art and science of teaching teachers. He ...
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What are the best practices?

Editor's Note:  In the November/December 2014 issue, Clavier Companion launched a series of articles addressing the future of piano teaching. The following article is part of that series, which will continue in future issues "I've always done it this way." "My teacher did it that way, too. It worked fine for her." "I plan to keep teaching this...
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The challenges and joys of intermediate teaching

Intermediate Students are Different  from Elementary and Advanced Students Intermediate-level piano students present unique and greater challenges than do students at other levels and ages. Elementary-level students are constantly learning new concepts and skills. Their curiosity and imaginations are aroused. They are amazed by their abilities...
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The role of rote teaching in the development of reading, technique, and artistry

Rote teaching is the systematic introduction of musical and artistic concepts that are best introduced by modeling rather than from the notated score. Music is an aural art and thus transcends notation. Rote teaching is not (a) training students to copy the teacher without any thought or understanding, or (b) the creation of students who will forev...
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Teach like TED

Since its beginnings in 1984, TED Talks have spread to every corner of the world. The acronym TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design . This workshop is modeled on the popular book Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. Gallo divides his book into three main parts: Emotional, Novel, and Memorable, each with three sub-headings. I use his headi...
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Beyond the keyboard: Keynote address, NCKP 2015

Good morning to all. I am delighted to be invited to participate in your conference. Although I am not an accomplished pianist, I have been interested in piano pedagogy for many years. As a result, I am lead to believe piano is taught to many persons by teachers who typically teach the way they were taught rather than according to an objective lear...
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Questions and Answers

Q: Piano teachers have more resources available to them than ever before. With all of the blogs, list-serves, and social media available free of charge, and low-cost online conferences proliferating, why should I expend the time, energy, and money to attend a live conference such as the MTNA National Conference or the National Conference on Keyboar...
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The Future of Piano Teaching: Evaluating new teaching tools

Editor's note: In the November/December 2014 issue, Clavier Companion launched a series of articles addressing the future of piano teaching. This article is part of that series, which will continue in future issues. The tools for education have changed greatly in recent decades, and they are still evolving. The internet and technologies such a...
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