Teaching

1508, 2017

Technique with a Purpose

By |August 15, 2017|Motivation, Teaching, Teaching Philosophy, Technique|

I’m pretty passionate about this fourth key point of my teaching philosophy.

4. I firmly believe in technique with a purpose: more convincing musical communication (and injury prevention).

Technique is an important part of a piano education. However, it is the means to an end. It’s always problematic when the means become the end. When it becomes all about playing something as fast as possible and perfectly cleanly, something is seriously wrong. Again, piano playing is about making music, not being perfect!

Technique needs to be about making music too. Each technical adjustment should have a musical purpose. Each technical exercise should have […]

908, 2017

Learning Requires Taking Risks

By |August 9, 2017|Encouragement, Expectations, Motivation, Teaching, Teaching Philosophy|

Below is the third key element of my teaching philosophy.

3. I aim to combine high expectations with a friendly, encouraging atmosphere in order to motivate students to ask questions and take risks.

Did you ever notice that some of the most effective learning happens when we fail? This is why it is so incredibly important for a teacher to create an atmosphere where this can happen.

Teachers need to expect high quality work. Tolerating sloppiness invalidates any attempts to motivate students to pursue excellence.

However, if students always perform virtually perfectly, they likely aren’t learning much. Part of high expectations is stretching students […]

108, 2017

Effort Outweighs Natural Ability

By |August 1, 2017|Talent, Teaching, Teaching Philosophy, Work Ethic|

The second key element of my teaching philosophy is simple.

2. Commitment, effort, and diligent practice, in combination with quality guidance, far outweigh intrinsic “talent.”

Many parents feel it isn’t worth investing in their children’s music education unless they show signs of special talent. However, I like to think of it this way: Imagine each child as an empty glass. Natural ability might allow a child to begin with a tiny bit of water already in the glass. Each hour of effective practice and each pearl of on-target feedback pours more water into the glass. Ultimately, the natural ability makes little difference. […]

2507, 2017

Music is Part of a Holistic Education

By |July 25, 2017|Memorization, Teaching, Teaching Philosophy|

I thought I’d begin a series exploring the key elements of my teaching philosophy and why I chose to include them.

1. Learning to play a musical instrument is a valuable component of a holistic education.

There are plenty of studies out there evaluating the question of whether music makes you “smarter.” Some claim it does. Others refute the idea that listening to Mozart will make you more intelligent. There is reason to believe that studying a musical instrument has a positive impact on your brain . . . whether that means it makes you “smarter,” who knows! Studies aside, what are […]

2005, 2015

On the Spot: Czerny and the Role of Improvisation in Classical Piano Education

By |May 20, 2015|Improvisation, Memorization, Music School, Practicing, Preparing to Perform, Talent, Teaching|

Thank you so much for your patience as I finished up a busy semester! As my first post back, I thought I’d share one of the things I was up to while I was gone. Below you’ll find my music history research paper. It’s kind of long for a blog post, so I’ve included an abstract too. Enjoy!

Abstract:
Throughout his career as a piano instructor, Carl Czerny emphasized teaching improvisation, an art that may have contributed to the harmonic understanding, technical development, and musical memory of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century pianists. Improvising publicly was common practice during Czerny’s life. His treatise on […]

2203, 2015

Notes or Music?

By |March 22, 2015|Performing, Talent, Teaching|

Since I’m super busy and I was unable over break to write enough blog posts for the entire semester, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to post something different today. Someone shared this video with me as a good reminder that every single note we play should have character. It’s also really funny. Enjoy!

View on Youtube at this link.

So let’s not just play notes, let’s make music. Please share your responses in the comments section!

Photo Credits: “Finger face with a question” by Tsahi Levent-Levi. CC BY 2.0 Text added to original.| Derivative of “Music sculpture” by Ruth Ellison. CC BY-NC-ND […]

401, 2015

5 Characteristics of Good Private Music Teachers

By |January 4, 2015|Expectations, Practicing, Teaching|

This post is intended to serve as a helpful guide for parents and students looking for teachers, but I also hope it helps inspire teachers to continue pursuing growth in these areas. These are some of the goals I’m working toward in my own teaching.

Good private music teachers . . .

1) Have Teaching Experience

No matter how amazing people are as performers, if they can’t teach, then students won’t be able to benefit from their skill. If you’re seeking lessons for a young child, do they work well with kids? The amount of teaching experience of even an excellent musician can […]

2512, 2014

Christmas Gift: Free Winter Recital Program Template

By |December 25, 2014|Christmas, Free Download, Performing, Teaching|

Merry Christmas! I wanted to do a special post for Christmas, so I decided to provide a free download. If you read my biography, you will know that, aside from music, I’m also interested in design. So as my Christmas gift to you, I’m providing a free template for a winter recital program.

The Word document is pre-formatted: just fill in student names and pieces. If you like to do more customization, I’m also providing a PDF of the background only. Please enjoy and share!

I hope you had a very merry Christmas!

-Melody

 

If you have any trouble, please let me know. Thanks!

2112, 2014

Mental Memory: 7 Strategies to Engage the Muscle of the Mind

By |December 21, 2014|Memorization, Performing, Practicing, Teaching|

We all hate that moment in the middle of a performance, or even before it starts, when we just go blank. We find it frustrating when we can play a piece well but memory gets in the way of a beautiful performance. How do we prepare to prevent that from happening?

As a kid I didn’t understand the concept of memorizing music. By the time my teacher asked me to memorize something, I already had it memorized. That was easy! If I played it enough times, it was in my fingers. But I was depending solely on muscle memory, an important […]

2311, 2014

Expectations and Why They’re Such a Big Deal

By |November 23, 2014|Expectations, Practicing, Teaching, Work Ethic|

It’s amazing how expectations affect us! If I expect someone to invite me to something, I’m deeply hurt when he or she doesn’t. If I don’t, I’m elated to receive an invitation. If I expect something of myself, I’m frustrated when I can’t fulfill it. If people I care about expect things of me, I’m inspired to please them. Expectations are powerful! We should consider how to use them as tools in our music studies.

Using Expectations as a Student

As a student, setting expectations for ourselves is extremely beneficial. How long and how often do you expect yourself to practice? This […]