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#1824030 - 01/13/12 11:48 AM Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Sometimes our monthly teachers' meetings seem trite and boring. After all, how many discussions of this or that can you tolerate in a lifetime of teaching, not to mention chapter financial problems and worries. No wonder so many teachers disdain membership. Well, I have to share that this past week (Tuesday) we enjoyed something different and unique. Our chapter had a piano technician come in and provide us with some insights into the art of piano tuning. Unlike most other instrumentalists, pianists seldom tune their instrument, and I dare say, most of us don't have a clue about any of the internal workings of the piano. And not to keep secrets, but that someone happens to be a frequent contributor here on PW, Ryan Sowers, who just happens to be a fellow Olympian and MTNA member. If you're looking for new ideas for chapter meetings, why not contact your local PTG and see if they have someone willing to speak to the chapter.

Ryan didn't give us a one hour lesson on piano tuning, but using some very humorous video clips, enlightened us on a few of the many factors a tuner uses to find just the right tuning for an instrument. He also spent some time discussing electronic tuning vs aural tuning. I didn't have a chance to say so at the meeting, but after having lived in Germany for nearly 20 years, where all tunings remain aural and my tuners all had training at the Steinway factory. the electronic tunings I have here in the USA have been less than impressive. Thanks for the great job, Ryan.

My question to other teacher is: Have you enjoyed unique and interesting presentations? If so, would you share those with us. Thank you.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1824035 - 01/13/12 11:54 AM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
thumb

That's a great idea John!
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1824054 - 01/13/12 12:23 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
One of our local clubs has a musical presentation at each meeting. We've had a variety of musicians and dancers. We are a large enough club to use dues to pay a small "honorarium" to each performer. The performances are the only thing making the meetings worthwhile IMO.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1824078 - 01/13/12 12:57 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Ann, I was thinking of that, too. Do the performers give any insight in to what makes their genre of music distinct from others? That's the part I think might be really useful. I play dance music, for dancing, and I so often find that pianists who have a largely classical music background have trouble figuring out dance music - their polkas don't make me want to polka! So I think it would be really interesting to have, say, a Balkan music band that often plays in 11/8 time signatures, give some insight into how that rhythm is accented and what the dancers do to it. Not everyone will want to play/dance to that, but knowing that it's out there might be give someone a little different perspective into what's possible on a piano.

The fiddlers in our band come back from Scottish fiddle camp with really intriguing perspectives on how Scottish dance tunes are accented, and where the "pick up" accents are, etc. I just think that it adds to a whole sense of being aware of phrasing in music that opens up musicality.

But dance music is my hobby horse so maybe others wouldn't find it interesting. But there's other kinds of music that could be interesting in this context too, I think.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1824086 - 01/13/12 01:08 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1316
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Excellent idea, John. I wish I had been there. I think piano teachers could benefit from such a talk every year, by a different tuner-technician each time. As a piano breed, tuner-technicians listen more intensely to piano sound than we teachers do, and have a lot of knowledge to impart.

Peter



Edited by Peter K. Mose (01/13/12 01:11 PM)

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#1824092 - 01/13/12 01:15 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
jotur, each presenter is different. Most give a brief talk in addition to performing, making it really interesting.

We only had dancers once. It was recent and they were natives of India. Gave a talk about history of temple dancing and the meaning of the pieces they were about to dance.

A well respected local fiddler gave a nice presentation about fiddle music.

A pianist gave a talk about his experiences writing and selling jingles and gave examples at the piano.

A professor of piano played. He said he learned the piece this year and had only taught it once. I was surprised to hear him admit he had taught it without mastering it himself. He told about how learning the piece himself gave him an overall sense of the continuity of the piece...something like that.

We've had some unusual instruments too (wish I could recall the names of the instruments). And a jazz trio. And pianists accompanying singers.

There has been a lot of work done in cultivating good relationships with some university professors. Sometimes they perform, and sometimes they get students to perform.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1824102 - 01/13/12 01:22 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: jotur]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: jotur
I play dance music, for dancing, and I so often find that pianists who have a largely classical music background have trouble figuring out dance music - their polkas don't make me want to polka!


I've played fiddle for a few contra dances (using sheet music), but no way could I go to the piano and bang out a rhythm that would get people dancing...even with several years dedicated to playing piano. Playing for a contra dance is a different animal...a specialty of its own. May not take being able to read music, but it takes time to get it all together, and I'm finding I can't do everything. Besides all that octave playing would be a strain for my hands.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1824105 - 01/13/12 01:27 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: jotur]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: jotur


The fiddlers in our band come back from Scottish fiddle camp with really intriguing perspectives on how Scottish dance tunes are accented, and where the "pick up" accents are, etc.


Doing a little fiddling and practicing with the group really gave me a feeling for how important anticipated notes are to the overall fun of the dance. We'd jump in slightly early to beat 1 (in certain places), with emphasis. It REALLY raises the level of energy when this technique is used (but not over used probably).
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1824122 - 01/13/12 01:53 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Your music meetings sound great, Ann. I'd be interested in going if I lived in KY laugh We play for contra dances, too (and yes, the band I'm in is largely sheet music readers/memorizers) and really have a lot of fun. I've danced forever so getting the "danceability" up came fairly quickly to me, but I have lots more to learn. People love to dance to our band, but we really don't have Scottish or Irish styles down very well. But I love playing with fiddlers! It's cool that you fiddle.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1824385 - 01/13/12 08:11 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
trhmusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 41
Loc: Texas
I just joinded my MTNA chapter last year, I never knew how much I was missing by not being a part of that! But since I am a newbie my suggestions may not be that helpful to you veterans, but here it is.
My favorite discussion at my local chapter was about preschool music. They brought in a lady who had just opened up her own music studio that focused on pre-school and young children's music program. They are offering "Music Together" classes to families with children 6 mos-4 or 5 year olds and have a group piano class for 4 year olds and a group piano class for 5-6 year olds. I was so intrigued by it that I went to Austin (90 miles from here) and observed all their classes. I went through the Music Together teacher training and hope to be a Music Together teacher soon (we are in the process of moving, so I can't teach until we get to our new city). I have already started incorporating things I learned from them with my younger piano students.

I know for most of the teachers in attendance this was a fairly new idea for them. I don't know about your chapter.

Have you questioned your own chapter members on what they would like to discuss?
_________________________
Tracy Hall
Piano Teacher
http://www.trhmusic.org
"Bringing the joy of music to the next generation"

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#1824405 - 01/13/12 09:12 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: trhmusic]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Tracy, our chapter actually has a fairly well-rounded program through the year. It's just that having been a member now for 14 years, there's a certain amount of recycling. I believe the piano tech, Ryan, was a first in all that time, and rather refreshing. I was just hoping to elicit some other interesting, if offbeat, ideas.

Another presentation I've greatly enjoyed was by pianist William H. Chapman Nyaho, who has compiled a wonderful compendium of the Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora. This is worth a serious look if you're teaching beyond elementary level students.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1824459 - 01/13/12 11:24 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Our local association just had a program given by a soprano on divas throughout history. She sang 4 different roles (Purcell, Mozart, Verdi and . . . a contemporary composer whose name I've already forgotten) with some historical background and plot info in between. Very interesting! This fall we had a horn and piano recital with information about the horn. We had one session about favorite holiday teaching pieces in which we each brought our pieces to share. We always have one program of teacher performances and one program presenting the scholarship recipients from the 3 local colleges/universities. Next month is a roundtable discussion on group lessons.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1824733 - 01/14/12 12:19 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5421
Loc: Orange County, CA
Intermediate (or Beginner) Piano Master Class!!

I've been trying my hardest to change the nature of master classes in my branch. Why does it ALWAYS have to be kids playing Liszt Rhapsodies and Chopin Ballades???? No wonder attendance at the master classes are always paltry. How many of us actually teach such lofty repertoire, anyway??
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1824885 - 01/14/12 03:59 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2401
Loc: Olympia, WA
John,

Wow! Your post made my day! I'm glad the presentation came off well. It was my first time using Powerpoint, and luckily it went fairly smooth. It was very fun and fairly easy once I got the hang of it and the internet is such a rich source of information.

I really like the idea of music teachers and technicians working more together. We tend to exist mostly in our separate worlds. I have learned a lot from my involvement with the local chapter of the MTNA, that will benefit the local Piano Technicians Guild chapter. In fact I think it would be a grand idea to have one of the teachers from MTNA come do a presentation at a Piano Technicians Guild chapter. Understanding the teachers' perspective on the instrument could be very beneficial to the technicians. I think I know someone to do the presentaion... smile
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1824983 - 01/14/12 09:01 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Jeani-Martini Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 42
Loc: Land of Astro Turf, CA
I would enjoy piano teacher club meetings if they involved useful and controversial topics like on this forum. And good food.

The guest tap dancers, clinicians, and performers of Goldburg Variations *yawn* I can find by myself on YouTube, thx
_________________________
You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.
Q: What's the difference between the second violins and the violas?
A: About three half-steps.
ba-da-BOOM!

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#1825032 - 01/14/12 10:26 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 79
Here are a few ideas:
1. Have someone come and do a presentation about children with learning difficulties. All of us teachers could use some new insights on working with children who have dyslexia, ADD, ADHD etc.
Where to find that person - perhaps a parent of a child who is dealing with this issue? Maybe a psychologist or a teacher that specializes in special needs?

2. Have a meeting that focusses on piano method books where teachers can discuss the pros and cons of different methods. This would be especially beneficial for the newer teachers.

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#1825176 - 01/15/12 08:45 AM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
One of our clubs has such elderly members. Trouble walking. At last meeting an elderly singer crinkled a wrapper from her cough drop through the entire performance, and it was surprisingly loud. She is apparently hard of hearing and getting a little senile.

I felt embarassed. Yet the professor performing (piano) was gracious. I think he took the attitude you would have in performing for people in a nursing home. Think of it as a type of ministry, and lower your expectations of the audience. Just a shame it's gotten to that.

So anyway there is no discussion of teaching issues. People only join to be eligible to get their students into festival...and most don't attend meetings. The vibrant, professional teachers mostly go to another group (MTNA). (I've joined both.)

Anyway the club would be completely defunct if it weren't for festival and a directory of teachers. The best that can be done is to have performances.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1825183 - 01/15/12 09:07 AM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
'bout time, huh, John?

That sounds like a great program.

Other suggestions:

I like the idea of sharing what courses you recommend. Maybe part of a meeting for several months? One member comes in and gives a 'share' talk for 15 minutes? maybe a beginner's book, maybe an intermediate, maybe one more advanced? That way members get to participate.

Or maybe a panel with 3 different beginner method books one month, 3 different intermediate another, etc.

We brought in method promoters who went around to several states presenting their books - not sure that is done any more.

Day trip to a piano store. Just as learning more about the tech/tuning aspect, teachers can enjoy learning more about different mfg of pianos - what's out there in different price ranges; what's out there for tone. Comparisons etc.

A good demonstration on digital pianos. As much as I have been around, I admit that I have not kept up with this technology.

Anyone for learning to teach blues? jazz? pop? chord methods? lead sheets? or is this going around the block too often these days?

What about teaching improv or composing for beginner students?

LL
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1829198 - 01/21/12 05:20 PM Re: Ideas for monthly teachers' meetings [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
At our MTA meeting today it was announced that next month we will have a presentation about "What to look for in a piano". I didn't catch the name of the presenter, but I'm expecting it to be a piano technician. It think this will be a great topic, especially since so many parents ask teachers' advice about pianos.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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