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Questions and Answers: July/August 2017

QUESTION : I've read that Frances Clark often used classics, literature, and social sciences that don't seem related to piano teaching in her pedagogy classes. Would you comment on this and, if possible, give some examples?   ANSWER : This is the second response of what could be dozens of answers to this wonderful question. In the last issue, ...
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Putting it all together: Creating a great lesson

I've recently been inspired to think about the essential elements of a successful lesson, prompted in part by Pete Jutras's column "Quality Ingredients" ( Clavier Companion , July/August 2015) and a superb 2012 workshop that Marvin Blickenstaff presented at Nazareth College, just outside of Rochester, NY. Jutras's points—that every lesson should ha...
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Questions and Answers: May/June 2017

​Question : I've read that Frances Clark often used classics, literature, and social sciences that don't seem related to piano teaching in her pedagogy classes. Would you comment on this and, if possible, give some examples? ​Answer : This is true and it's something about which I could write many articles or perhaps even a book someday. Frances was...
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The many faces of music: Pre-conference keynote address, NCKP 2015

As past president of the Board of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, let me offer each of you a warm welcome to this 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. It is our hope that you will find each session on the program inspirational, challenging, and packed with practical information for use in your teaching.  And now, let ...
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Preparation, Presentation, and Reinforcement

"Successful teaching at the early levels means three stages: Preparation, Presentation, and Reinforcement " – Marvin Blickenstaff  Below is a list of phrases or activities that might be seen or heard in a lesson. See if you can decide which item belongs in each of these three categories: Preparation, Presentation, and Reinforcement. "Let's sig...
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Independent Study Project

When I taught on the college level, I would frequently assign my freshman and sophomore students a composition to be learned on their own. No help from me. They might listen to recordings and would sometimes play for friends, but the preparation was basically independent study. Junior and senior level students would be assigned one of those indepen...
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How Do We Get to the Center?

"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." – Plato   In the new issue of Clavier Companion, Pete Jutras wrote a thought-provoking article titled, "Finding the Center." In the article he challenges us to keep the "person" the focus of what ...
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A New Venture

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In my last blog, I highlighted the achievements of Frances Clark and Louise Goss by giving a timeline. Today, I will fast-forward to 1981. This information was obtained through interviews and school literature. As you may recall, Frances Clark and Louise Goss organized an undergraduate piano pedagogy program at Westminster Choir College in 1955. Fi...
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Of Robots and Clones

  "Motivating students to practice and developing students who know how to use their practice time wisely is our biggest single challenge as teachers." – Frances Clark It seems quite simple: We teachers give our students excellent practice guidelines, our students practice in precisely the way we have painstakingly communicated via assignment ...
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Purple Moments

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  ​Plant a Purple Moment in every lesson. Call it what you will – every lesson needs at least one. Perhaps it came in the duet you played with the student. The ritardando and diminuendo in the last two measures left both you and the student momentarily speechless. It might have been with a piece that had been practiced slowly for several weeks...
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EXPERIENCING Music

"Teaching is not what you say or do. Teaching is what you have the STUDENT experience in your presence." –Sam Holland  What do we want the student to EXPERIENCE in the lesson? I don't have to think about it very long to come to the conclusion that what I want my students to experience through their lesson is good music. Regardless of where the...
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New School Timeline

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I decided it might be a good idea to summarize what I have written for those who have not visited our website until now. In addition to this overview, I have added a few new statements about Frances Clark's workshops and her vocation as a columnist for keyboard journals. In 1945, Frances Clark organized the country's first four-year piano pedagogy ...
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Teacher "Talk and Tell" Vs. Student "Discover and Do"

During my fourteen years as an instructor of piano pedagogy at the collegiate level, one aspect of my work was to observe the teaching of interns enrolled in the course and then follow-up with one-on-one conferences in which the lesson happenings were discussed. I recall that one of the major issues which was addressed in nearly every post-lesson c...
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Grow!

"Teaching is a growth, a natural process. It's the way children grow. No one tells them to be an inch higher, they BECOME an inch higher." – Frances Clark When I was the Admissions Director at the New School for Music Study , I would always let parents know that Frances Clark incorporated principles of educational philosophy into the art of teachin...
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It Takes Training

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Well, Christmas is just a few days away, and here I sit in sunny California waiting for snow. My relatives assure me that it has snowed in the past. Maybe it has, but I'm not holding my breath. Instead, I am writing this blog about The New School for Music Study. When I conducted research for my thesis, I cited several sources for the following inf...
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Only the Best

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Happy holidays. I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone with Christmas right around the corner. Although it's a busy time of year, I'm assuming you have a moment to browse our website. If not, perhaps you are reading this and other postings after the holidays. Just in case, let me say, "Happy New Year!" In my first blog, I explained that wri...
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First Steps on the Path toward Self-Reliant Learning

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  "My primary goal as a piano teacher is to create a climate in which my students can experience continual musical, intellectual, and emotional growth, and to become increasingly dispensable to them in the process. Everything I do as a teacher, and every other teaching goal I have, relates directly to the first, most basic objective – to help ...
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A New Approach Leads the Way

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Having read my other blogs, you should be somewhat familiar with The Frances Clark Library for Piano Students . To recap, I have explained how the Clark Library is designed as a comprehensive piano course based on a thorough analysis of the learning process. I have also stated that the advantages of Frances Clark's teaching approach have been recog...
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The Art of Teaching

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Welcome back. This week, I want to take a closer look at the elementary books of The Frances Clark Library for Piano Students . Along with my own analysis, I found information from several sources, including Robert Kern's dissertation and the video: Conversations with Frances Clark, vol. 1: Her Life and Teachings . In addition, I conducted intervie...
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Nothing More than to Learn: Creating the Environment

"The art of teaching: Creating an environment in which a student wants nothing more than to learn, and having the right materials for the situation." – Frances Clark What comes to mind when you read this quote? Do you begin to form a list of ways that you, as a teacher, can create this environment? Do you feel uncertain as to whether or not you are...
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