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#14190 - 07/31/01 06:03 PM Leaps and Bounds
Eric Offline
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Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
As teachers we are always struggling to achieve a smooth sequence for our students' progression. Yet, many of us know from personal experience that the biggest improvements come in sudden leaps.

For example, John mentioned being motivated to learn Prokofiev's 6th, even though his teacher said he never would have assigned it. I had a big moment as a Freshman in high school when I heard a recording of Van Cliburn play Brahms' G minor Ballade. It was definitely beyond me.....but I HAD to learn it and I DID, and in doing so it catapulted me to a new level.

In the "Graduating from a Method Series" thread, we're seeing that creating a smooth sequence for Melody Maker might not guarantee that she finishes high school with the technique and repertoire in place for college. Unless, that is, she has some LEAPS and BOUNDS of her own.

How can we as teachers create opportunities for students to have such moments? I know for me, it was my teacher loaning me her Van Cliburn recording; it changed my life! How funny that a little thing like that can make such a huge difference.

Often after the growth spurt there's a period of assimilation, of course, but those sudden spurts of improvement seem to be a part of everyone's learning.

Back to the question; How can we teachers provide opportunities for this accelerated learning? Are there activities outside of the carefully sequenced progression that might inspire our students to improve by leaps and bounds?

[ July 31, 2001: Message edited by: Eric ]

#14191 - 07/31/01 06:31 PM Re: Leaps and Bounds
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Perhaps students should be periodically asked to attend recitals given by top students. You know what motivated Piano Kid to learn Spinning Song? While living in Costa Rica, she had a friend (who now lives in Minnesota) who takes Suzuki piano lessons. At age 8, she gave a solo recital, which we attended because her mother is a close friend of mine. She performed a whole program of memorized music (Bach minuets, etc.) & Spinning Song was one of her encore pieces. Hearing that child play really made a long-lasting impression on PK because her friend is only 1 year older than she is. I wouldn't want any student to get discouraged by hearing a top student perform & think that s/he would never be that good; but I think some students (like PK) are motivated to make huge strides in their musical studies by hearing their peers perform well.

#14192 - 07/31/01 07:01 PM Re: Leaps and Bounds
Lilla Offline
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Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Eric, I think we can offer a continuous level of excitement for music - whether we jump up and play a piece that relates to a discussion with the student; or provide information on local performances, loan CD's, books, videos. We can expand the lesson content to include anything musically related - some things that I can recall that produced excitement and productivity in my students: One girl came to the lesson in tears - just an all around bad day. I don't remember how it happened, but I sent her home with my battered copy of Mozart Sonata in C with instruction to learn only the first few measures (Level 2 student). She glowed then and when she returned the next week playing those few measures. One Christmas my husband came into the room with his snare drum and joined us on Little Drummer Boy. Two girls who are friends are playing Pachelbel's Canon in duet on their own - one playing from her lesson material in Faber Classics, the other providing accompaniament by ear. That's not what I intended or what I instructed, but I decided to let it go. I believe they are both receiving valuable lessons with this duet. One girl loves minor keys and I play a special piece I've run across almost every week. She is now composing her own minor key pieces. I think we need to keep an open mind, expand musical instruction to whatever related direction it wanders to, while keeping a focused course of lesson content. All in all, it makes teaching piano all the more fun and interesting. Lilla

Originally posted by Eric:. . .How can we teachers provide opportunities for this accelerated learning? Are there activities outside of the carefully sequenced progression that might inspire are students to improve by leaps and bounds?[/B]

[ 01, 2001: Message edited by: Lilla ]

#14193 - 07/31/01 07:58 PM Re: Leaps and Bounds
John Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/29/01
Posts: 2454
Loc: Bellingham, WA
We need to expose the student to a wide variety of rep and work diligently in finding the pieces they simply cannot WAIT to play! With younger ones we do need to exercise caution and have realistic goals, and yet at the same time not underestimate what they can accomplish. I really like Lilla imput....I turned a bass student onto Stravinsky BIG TIME by making parallels between accents in a steady bass ostinato we were working on and the Rite of Spring. He went on to explore MANY 20th century composers...and he's a rock bassist at heart.


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