gift

By Robin Steinweg

Piano player, scared

With a recital looming on the horizon, some of my students asked how they could prepare to perform before an audience. So I made it the subject of a master class.

Snacks came first—the best-ever ice breaker. I found out some of their favorite cookies ahead of time, and did a little baking. It’s surprising how food warms the student heart and softens the attitude.  Apple cider and some new flavors of candy corn brought a fall flavor to the table. Some gourds for décor, and we were all set.

I got out my white board and asked the group a few questions about how they would prepare to perform. They recorded their answers on the board in their favorite colors. Let me share some of them. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s this group’s list, and I applauded them for it:

 WHY perform for an audience?

It’s fun

Gives others pleasure

Gives you experience and confidence

Lets you share something you love with others

You can show off how hard you’ve been working

Things to do to prepare to perform: [···]

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Skubik/Wikipedia

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Annabel was the most talented pianist I’d ever taught. A complete beginner at seven, she had progressed within six weeks to being able to play fluently with both hands and, while I was away on tour for a few weeks, completed the first piano book on her own. Her hand position was naturally good and her aural skills were outstanding. She could also sight-read expertly. I was delighted with her progress on my return… and therefore somewhat disappointed when she announced halfway through Book 2 that she didn’t want to have lessons any more. She didn’t hate the piano- she just wasn’t particularly interested. She already played violin, was studying German and excelling at school, so reluctantly her parents and I agreed that she could discontinue her lessons.

But her decision intrigued me, and brought up a lot of questions. [···]

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A teacher’s job neither starts nor ends in the studio.  Preparation, brainstorming, caring, ideas, inspiration, creativity… these are only a few words to describe the immense responsibility we have outside of the studio.  Have you ever found yourself writing a letter outside teaching hours to encourage a student who is struggling with their first Minuet or help a parent who needs advice on inspiring their child to practice, or researched the best local pianos for sale?

Take your job seriously in all respects. 🙂  I have discovered that when we, as teachers, enjoy what we do, our students have a sense of ownership, joy, and satisfaction in the accomplishments they have made at their instruments.  You all are wonderful teachers! Keep pouring into your students and enjoy every moment and opportunity you have to make a difference in their lives through music.

I will…

 

  • pray for my day’s list of students before entering the studio.
  • look students in the eyes, let them know how glad I am to see them, and smile!… be cheerful
  • give clear practice instructions, demand only the best and be patient when practice weeks don’t reach those expectations
 [···]
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