Fall Quarter started this week and the schedule seems to be working out well for everyone! Yeah :)! Scheduling can be tricky so I was very thankful for this.
Over the 2 week break in August I was able to make a lot of progress on my new piano method, "88 Keys to Mastering the Piano". It is unique in its inclusion of important "Taubman" principles of piano technic. Many of the popular piano methods currently published include information regarding technic which we now know can cause tension which leads to technical limitation and eventually possible pain and injury. In the year 2016 -- with all of the information we now know regarding ergonomic motion -- it is time for the field of piano technic to get an upgrade.
The field of piano pedagogy needs to (once and for all) let go of out-dated principles from the 1800 and 1900's. Inefficient (and unhealthy) principles such as "curling the fingers" (as if holding an imaginary ball), or "isolating" the finger motion from the hand and forearm (causing extreme tension/co-contraction and limitation), or "shaping" with the wrist collapsing too low or raising too high NEED TO BECOME A THING OF THE PAST. These outdated principles of technic encourage motions and misalignment of the body which cause us to use the wrong muscles, or use muscles which we don't need to use. Moving a limb part to the extreme range puts too much stress on our tendons and ligaments. And, most importantly, it makes piano playing difficult and limits our speed and facility. With some studies indicating that over 88% of pianists suffer from pain or injury, it is important that healthy, effortless principles of coordinate motion be applied from the 1st lesson on.
Though daunting and all-consuming, this project is so important. My students need this resource so I will continue to work on future books in my spare time in the years to come. Many thanks to my amazing students past and present for their help in this project. Your photos, videos, and input are invaluable!
Just 2 days after the Alabama Music Teachers State Conference at Auburn University (where, incidentally, longtime McLelland Piano student Evelyn performed beautifully in the Division II State Winners Recital), we held our 2016 Summer Piano Camp.
The theme this year was Pianist in Ensemble and the students had opportunity to learn about and accompany several instruments -- violin, (guest clinician Caroline Nordlund), flute (guest flutist Eleanor R.), saxophone and bassoon, (Evelyn C.)
New this year? An ENTIRE day at Oak Mountain State Park where we rehearsed piano duets, presented a play entitled "Wigs of Music History", played water balloon games, road boats, hiked, and enjoyed hotdogs/hamburgers and s'mores over the campfire!
We also had new games this year like Eggspert Jeopardy and of course old faithfuls like our Keyboard Carnival, and our fabulous pipe organ workshop with Dr. Jeff McLelland. Congrats to all our amazing campers and guest clinicians this year and many thanks to our camp helpers!
Here are some clips!
Wednesday at Oak Mountain State Park!
Thursday - Keyboard Carnival and Pipe Organ day!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s_jRUPijggFriday - Another chamber class with guest violinist, Caroline Nordlund, final rehearsals, fried chicken AND a performance at St. Martin's in the Pines Assisted Living. (The residents loved the special cards and origami critters we made and shared and we really enjoyed meeting them and performing for them!)
Congratulations to all my pre-college students for their wonderful performances in last week's Spring Studio Recital and Awards Ceremony. Here are some hi-lites!
Congratulations also to all the students who participated in the AMTA (Alabama Music Teachers Association, local affiliate of MTNA - Music Teachers National Association) District VII Auditions at Samford University. Highest ratings all-around. Now onto the state level auditions in May!
I enjoyed adjudicating the AMTA District auditions at Snead College, and then the next week at Huntsville. I always hear so many amazing students and receive such motivation and encouragement as well. Kudos to everyone I hear all around the state!!
It was such fun that we plan to hold our Spring Studio Festival auditions online at stageit.com. An adjudicator around the world (in Australia!) will be viewing the live auditions and providing evaluations and ratings. 6 PM our time, 11 AM the next day her time! More details later along with links if you would like to view the auditions!
I treasure the extra free time provided by the lighter teaching load of summer months. My practice time is uncluttered and there's finally time for reading and all those other "roundtuits" devoured by the busy schedule of the school year. In the old days, "catching-up-on-reading" meant a few articles in Clavier or Piano Quarterly. Now, while I still enjoy AMT and other great periodicals, I'm simply blown away by the shear magnitude of fantastic articles online. It's impossible not to discover a handful of pedagogical "tricks" for the upcoming school year and I'm always inspired and motivated to up my game.
I think my students would benefit from some of this "uncluttered time" as well --- time to read, to stare at fireflies, to float in a pool, to search for 4-leaf clovers, and to delight in spending time at the piano without having to look at the clock or worry about the next scheduled activity.
I hope that their schedules will allow for some of this treasured stress-free time during the summer months.
I hope they, and their parents, will make a point to schedule this free time just as carefully as scheduling camps and other workshops. All human beings, particularly musicians and artists and writers and creative-thinkers, need time for reflection, inspiration, and rejuvenation.
Here's a link to an article that students might enjoy. There are some fabulous articles on this site but this is only the tip of the iceberg!
Pianist, Teacher, Clinician, Adjudicator