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2019 NCKP Preconference Highlights

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NCKP has eleven subcommittees, comprised of leaders in each of the following subcommittee areas: collaborative performance, collegiate pedagogy teaching, creative music making, inclusive teaching, independent music teachers, music in early childhood, research, students and young professionals, teaching adults, technology, and wellness. Over seventy...
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Dystonia: Thoughts and Attitudes

When a doctor diagnosed me with focal dystonia in 1996, it was as if a line sud denly divided my life between "before dystonia" and "after dystonia." Numerous physicians had already given me other diagnoses, but this one was different—it could mean the end of performing. After struggling with the symptoms for several years, I not only stopped per- ...
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Recovering from Focal Dystonia

2018 marked my twenty-fifth year of living with focal dystonia in my right hand. During this time not only have I learned much about this condition, I've also learned a  great deal about human anatomy, musician's wellness, the brain, and perhaps most importantly, how to practice more effectively. Much of this is applicable to all pianists—not ...
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The Road to Kindness: Encouraging Greater Generosity of Spirit in an Overly Competitive World

The habit of comparing ourselves (and being compared) to others is not restricted to the world of music. Starting shortly after birth, our physical  attributes, talents, and achievements are constantly compared to those of our peers. The age at which first words are spoken and first steps are taken can be a tremendous source of pride for paren...
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How Sleep Impacts Learning (And Why We Should All Sleep More!)

Healthy Playing, Healthy Teaching, Vanessa Cornett, Editor   A common refrain among teachers in the developed world is that  twenty-first-century students are over-scheduled, anxious, and unable to focus during their limited practice time. 1 Compounding these stress, anxiety, and distraction issues for my students is that they are awake l...
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Preparing Students for Peak Performance Through Centering Practice

Healthy Playing, Healthy Teaching , Vanessa Cornett, Editor Many teachers are unsure of the best way to respond when a student first utters the words, "I feel nervous!" Young students experiencing anxiety for the first time may mistakenly feel that their symptoms should be eliminated entirely. Yet, in order to perform ...
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Between the Lines: Lasting Lessons from the Studio

During late Spring 2018, Clavier Companion held the eighth annual Collegiate Writing Contest. Collegiate students were invited to submit 1,500-word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. The winning essay is published in the print edition of Clavier Companion . Undergraduate through graduate students, from instituti...
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Breath: Teaching piano students how to utilize a vital tool

Breathing is the only function of the autonomic nervous system that can happen both consciously and unconsciously. Research has shown the many benefits of practicing controlled breathing techniques such as stress relief and improved functioning of the immune system. 1 When applied in a pedagogical setting, teaching controlled breathing techniques a...
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Elizabeth Medici
Absolutely love the idea of using a windmill to help students control their breathing. Adding the physical element to this makes i... Read More
Monday, 08 October 2018 13:43
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September/October 2018: Variations

The music of life Serious illness visited my husband last winter. Our lives suddenly became a round of doctor appointments, surgery, tests, treatments, and continual bad news. My husband and I have received thoughts, prayers, food, visits, gifts both serious and funny, cards, and people's heartfelt love. We are gratefu...
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Toward integrated teaching

Would you teach your students to play only the first six notes of each major scale? Of course not! Good teachers introduce a complete concept, often from multiple perspectives. They may emphasize the building blocks of scales, key signatures, logical fingering, good practice habits, and healthy technique. Out...
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March/April 2018: Mind Matters

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What is your performance fear? I just returned home from doing an interview with Dave Wagner, host par excellence, at the WRCJ-FM in Detroit. It felt wonderful to walk into the studio on a frigid morning here in Michigan and to be warmly welcomed with Dave's greeting, "I look forward to talking with you about combating stage fright." Dave's comment...
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Jan/Feb 2018 Variations: A nickel for every mistake

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Seven-year-old Serena's mother describes her daughter's first piano practice of every week. "We always have tears! If she makes even one mistake, she is ready to give up. She expects herself to be able to the play the piece perfectly the first time. No matter what I say, she gets upset. Eventually, she turns her frustration on me, which means she e...
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Jan/Feb 2018 Mind Matters: Stage fright and symptoms: cause or effect?

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When you think about your stage fright, what are two or three fears or anxieties that come into your mind? When musicians contact me about this painful problem, I typically hear two prominent complaints among many others. These are anxiety about having (1) memory slips and (2) technical failures. As we talk about these anxieties other topics evolve...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Runner-up essay from the 2017 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest - Clara Boyett

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In the Spring of 2017, Clavier Companion sponsored its ninth annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. We extend our sincere thanks to professors Gail Berenson, Pamela Pike, and Suzanne Schons for serving as adjudicators for this y...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Runner-up essay from the 2017 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest - Yee Wing Chan

collegiate-competition-runner-up
In the Spring of 2017, Clavier Companion sponsored its ninth annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. We extend our sincere thanks to professors Gail Berenson, Pamela Pike, and Suzanne Schons for serving as adjudicators for this year's...
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Mind Matters: Thinking about thinking

What do you think about when you think about performing? Take a few minutes before reading further and make a short list. Below, I have listed some frequent responses about performance that I have heard from teachers and students: • I am afraid I will make mistakes. • I will feel embarrassed if my performance does not go perfectly. • I freak out ab...
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The Alexander Technique as a "means whereby"

In the summer 2015 issue, Clavier Companion published an article that was dedicated to the Feldenkrais method, and in a little box at the end of the article the Alexander Technique was mentioned. Knowing Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was actually a pupil of Alexander (1869-1955), I thought the Alexander Technique also deserved an article. Frederick Matth...
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Mind Matters: Stage fright on my mind

Stage fright is on my mind for various reasons. I have spent my entire life dealing with it since my first memory slip at age six, and it has continued to arise in my career as a performer and subsequently as a psychotherapist. Stage fright is not a topic that is easily discussed or admitted, because shame is an embarrassing component of this anxie...
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Recent research: July/August 2017

Musicians react faster A new study suggests that professional musicians react more quickly than non-musicians when exposed to audio, tactile, and a combination of audio-tactile stimulations. According to researchers at the Université de Montréal, "These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical au...
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Perfectly managing imperfection

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. ---Vaclav Havel I am listening to seventeen-year-old Olivia play her college audition pieces: a Chopin Ballade and a Bach Prelude and Fugue. I am not her teacher; Olivia has an outstanding mentor at a renowned ...
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