My Teaching Philosophy
The primary objective of the piano teacher is to foster in their students a love of music and a desire to know more about it. I believe that my most important goal is to develop my students’ abilities to express themselves musically at the piano, and to deepen their understanding of the music which they hear and play. In order to achieve this with my piano students, I teach a balanced curriculum of repertoire, technique, musicianship skills, sight-reading, music theory, and history. Further, I aim to make a personal connection with each of my students as I believe that the student-teacher relationship is the foundation on which all the learning occurs.
The student is at the centre of my practice and at all times I aim to make students feel comfortable, confident and supported. I want students to enjoy learning music and so I never sacrifice my student's feelings in order to achieve a goal. I respect each and every person that walks through my doors. I motivate and challenge my students to meet challenges and I encourage and promote their self esteem.
I believe that the first two years of piano instruction underpin and support all the pianist’s future attitudes, musical knowledge and skill. I choose a solid and well-respected beginner method program to use with my students, and I teach it thoroughly and mindfully. Note-reading and rhythm reading skills are taught at each lesson in order to foster music literacy. I aspire to present a wide variety of teaching modes during my lessons through playing, singing, discussion, drills, games, physical rhythm activities and technology. From the very beginning, my students are taught to play musically, imaginatively, and with expression. I informally assess students understanding during their lessons in order to address their areas of need. I believe that regular review is indispensable and that students are better prepared for independent practicing when they have regularly reviewed concepts at their lessons.
In between lessons, I aim to plan activities for the students to complete that address theory, listening, and creative objectives such as ear training, musicianship, and note-reading apps, theory workbooks, listening assignments, composition projects, and music inspired art activities. I plan and prepare collaboration and performance experiences for my students through duets, mini-master classes, recitals, and festivals because I think that pianists are not solitary islands but that they are part of a greater community of musicians.
The student is at the centre of my practice. I attempt to foster a bond with my students so that they are comfortable and confident in their lessons and performances. I take an interest in each individual through conversation in the lesson, and through social-media outside the lesson. I use a light-hearted tone in my lessons, and I avoid negative criticism by instead giving constructive feedback and objective observations to my students. Students are given opportunities to choose their own repertoire, and my students are also supported in their other musical endeavors such as composition and playing music for church.
I encourage all my students to participate in festivals and exams because I think that we, myself included, benefit from outside evaluation and from objective feedback. I have discovered that my students achieve greater levels of excellence by working towards these challenges and are more willing to practice and play with painstaking attention to detail and considerable perseverance. I greatly value the comments that I read and hear from adjudicators and examiners, and I use this information as a form of self-evaluation.
I value professional development, and I take notes during festival adjudications, regularly take part in webinars, read journal articles, and attend conferences, summits, and pedagogy clinics such as those provided by the RCM and CASSA Musical Arts. I also try to foster a good relationship with my colleagues through participation on the board of our local music festival in Strathmore, AB, as well as by maintaining membership in professional organizations such as the Registered Music Teachers Association of Alberta, and the Alberta Piano Teachers Association. I also practice the piano regularly and I believe that continuing to play and perform fine-tunes my own abilities as a musician.
My credentials include a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Regina, and my RCM Level 10 Certificate. I am a member of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association and the Alberta Piano Teacher's Association. My experience includes working as a teacher for 14 years at Holy Cross Collegiate, before leaving to open my piano studio. Most recently, I taught piano for the past 3 years and have had many successful exam candidates, from Preparatory A up to Level 8.
In summary, I believe that it is my objective to develop in my students the skills and attitudes that will support them in a lifetime of positive musical participation. I aim to develop music literacy through good pedagogy, planning and curriculum. I aspire to continuous professional growth so that I may always be improving in my skill as a teacher. Finally, I wish to develop good relationships with my students and instil fond memories of their time studying the piano with me.