Is It Time to Update Your Mission Statement?

May 27th, 2016 by

What do you do when you have have four marvelous, faithful, dynamic and long-time pianists who are graduating from high school and leaving your studio? You throw a Senior Showcase AND check to see if their skills match your mission statement–you know–that one you post on your website but forget to check!

I held a senior showcase quite some time ago when I had three seniors graduate in one year. I did the same for the four seniors in the picture below. This year’s show included considerable “upgrades” thanks to the latest tech tools and my ongoing desire to provide creative-based teaching.

 

senior showcase

Program cover made with Canva

The agenda for the evening

  1. Offer a knockout printed program featuring dazzling photos and important info about the seniors. TIP: Canva.com is amazing! Make sure to check out this free graphic design program.
  2. Prepare pianists to perform around 5 of their favorite current or past pieces that best represent their playing AND their creativity.
  3. Present a projected slide show featuring snap shots of “lifetime” pics of each senior to loop prior to the showcase.
  4. Include a projected slide reflecting the mood or style of the piece as each pianist performed.
  5. Meet a special-request for one of the seniors by displaying slides with various movie posters as he played a tribute medley honoring all his favorite film composers.
  6. Set up cool lighting to provide sophisticated staging.
  7. Ensure outstanding and confident performances from each pianist showing their unique personalities and skills sets.
  8. Create an opportunity for each pianist to read a score on an iPad and turn pages with a blue-tooth pedal.
  9. Design a pop medley collaboration featuring all the pianists using the piano and the impressive voice selection of the Clavinova.

Of course, John Williams was included in the film composer medley

Of course, John Williams was included in the film composer medley

 

A role shift from teacher to tech support

I’m pleased (and relieved!) to say that the above agenda pretty much happened as planned even though I unexpectedly took charge of all tech support. I was given a crash course and learned how to run the projector, lights, and mics.

The state of the art tech center at my church runs EVERYTHING through apps. I could even mute and change the volume of the mics on the iPad! I called my designated work space in the back of the sanctuary Mission Control. Below is a pic of where I sat for a good part of the evening changing slides and running sound.

 

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All systems “go” 

 

 

A visit with my mission statement

What does all this agenda and tech stuff have to do with a mission statement? With such a profound occasion at hand I felt it necessary to write something “important” to my students and families and feature it in the printed program.

As a prompt for where to begin with the “essay,” I revisited my mission statement posted on my website. I haven’t read it in quite some time (it really should be memorized!) and I was curious  if these four seniors being sent off into the “real world” matched up with my intentions as a piano teacher.

 

Here’s what I wrote:

Students of any age will develop the necessary skills to become independent pianists allowing them to enjoy making music on the bench for a lifetime.

– Mission statement of Ms Leila

Abi, Kenna, Sarah and Addison were drawn to the piano for different reasons and followed a path as unique as each of their individual personalities.

The dedication each pianist demonstrated from week to week, year to year—showing up for lessons on time (even early in the morning) practicing with diligence, reading and following my long lesson notes—shows their remarkably loyal dedication to 88 piano keys. They spoiled me!

Music is something to be made. These four seniors are what I’d call high-functioning music makers. Each pianist has worked to learn favorite repertoire of the masters as well as compose and improvise away from the page. They are comfortable playing from chord charts and collaborating with other musicians.

Tonight is a celebration of Sarah, Kenna, Abi, and Addison putting into action all their music-making skills. In addition, it is a testament to their drive to develop dynamic and creative voices at the keys.

I’m thankful for the parents of these four seniors and their support of lessons with “Ms Leila” and this somewhat eclectic approach to learning the piano.

Although I’ll miss seeing these students, I’m extremely grateful for the time I had with them and know they will cherish making music for a lifetime.

Mission accomplished.

-Ms Leila

A realization that my teaching and mission statement need a slight realignment

There was no mention of technology or creativity in the statement–the two things I integrate into just about every lesson! But then it dawned on me that these two essentials could be thought as “necessary tools” so it still covers my intentions as a piano teacher. However, I will be making of a point of revising the statement to something like this:

Students of any age will develop the necessary skills to become creative, tech-savvy and independent pianists allowing them to enjoy making music on the bench for a lifetime.

An effort to put my mission into action

One way this updated mission statement is portrayed in the senior showcase was the “Pop Medley” that concluded the show.

The seniors took turns playing solos from all styles like Debussy, Chopin, Gershwin, Line, Mier and also played original compositions and songs. They wanted to play something with all four of them at the keys.

 

Rehearsal the night of

Rehearsal the night of

 

Since they enjoy playing pop music and because I wanted to provide a chance for them to collaborate like a band, we created a medley of four pop pieces.

Each pianist took the lead for their choice piece and made decisions regarding who would play what. They worked from iTunes, the Yamaha Chord Tracker app, YouTube videos and hand-written lead sheets.

 

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Hand-written lead sheets helped with collaboration

 

In the video of their showcase performance, you’ll hear and see how they:

  • Listened to each other.
  • Transitioned between new tunes.
  • Had incredible fun playing “drummer” and “back-up synth” on the Clavinova.
  • Wore some crazy glasses and their t-shirts sporting their college choice for the next year.

 

How about you?

Do you have a mission statement?

Does you mission statement need some updating?

If so, will students leave with music skills that are in line with it?

Need some help with integrating technology and creativity into your teaching? Follow this link.

 

Posted in Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss, pianist, organist, teacher, author of The iPad Piano Studio and blogger at 88pianokeys.me.
I enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 91. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore... [Read more]

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