It’s 3 sleeps to Christmas. At CURIOUS HQ we’re winding down – and we hope you are too! This morning Sally and I have been flicking through our diaries to remind ourselves of the curious happenings of 2017. Take a look with us below…
Sharon Mark-Teggart & Sally Cathcart – Co-Founders of The Curious Piano Teachers
JANUARYThe New Year began with a new idea: Tuesday Teaching Tips with Sally. Almost every Tuesday Sally has been popping up on Facebook to share some of her teaching ideas and to answer questions posed by other teachers. These have proved extremely popular with 1,000’s of you watching each week. The Curiosity Box for the month, available to members of The Community focussed on Psychology for Dealing with Teaching Difficulties with guest presenter Lucinda Mackworth-Young. For the first time members were given some specific reading material and invited to discuss their thoughts at live workshops.
FEBRUARYFebruary was the month of the Curious Baby! Sharon’s little boy Reuel was born at 12.48pm on Saturday 4 February weighing 7lbs 3oz and, to be honest, everything else was eclipsed by this momentous event. All his ‘curious’ aunts and uncles were tremendously excited! We were delighted to have Graham Fitch guide us through Developing Pianistic Skills with Intermediate Students in this month’s Curiosity Box. Members of the Community started to compile a list of repertoire suitable for those awkward teenage years.
MARCHSally headed off to the MTNA 2017 conference in Baltimore accompanied by fellow Curious Piano Teacher Angie Tse and Ed the Curious Elephant. Afternoon tea and cake proved extremely popular! Her Tuesday Teaching Tip with Dr Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher, live from the conference reached record viewing figures. Click here to watch! The very first webinar for the students of our members took place with composer Pam Wedgwood bringing this month’s Curiosity Box to life and Helping Students to Understand the Composition Process.
APRILAfter the excitement of the MTNA it was great to be able to introduce pedagogues Diane Hidy & Randall Faber to The Community. Teaching Adults was the topic of the month and they shared their perspectives with everyone.
Some of our Irish members met up at Powerscourt Resort at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain in County Wicklow with Sharon and our Curious Expert from Canada Professor Rena Upitis – who heads up the Music Tool Suite. It was a truly delightful day!
MAYIn May the day arrived that Sally had been so looking forward to – finally, she got to meet Reuel in person! In The Community we were Exploring Advanced Level Repertoire with the help of Deborah Rambo-Sinn. Plus, we published super-luxe 6/8 rhythm flashcard boxes – with 68 cards per box – where the level of difficulty is reflected by the colour of flashcard. These are sold by Manumat
JUNESally’s always been known for thinking ‘outside the box’. This was certainly the case in June when she interviewed Michael Bungay-Stainer, founder of Box of Crayons and author of The Coaching Habit. We were helping members of The Community to Give Students Effective Feedback and several teachers were brave enough to submit videos of their teaching for analysis. June also saw the launch of the ABRSM Sight-Reader Trainer app, based on Sally’s ideas and for which she had acted as a consultant. Along with Sally, Sharon and Fiona (a member of The Community) authored the questions for this app. A Facebook live conversation with Chief Examiner John Holmes helped to introduce the principles behind the app.
JULYWith many teachers having a break from their regular teaching, the summer months are always good times to look at self-development. The members of The Community were encouraged to Develop Your Own Aural Skills. We created a 4 part online musicianship course, with accompanying workbooks to help teachers refine and deepen their rhythmic and melodic understanding. We also had our first ever double dinner date with our husbands at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa!
AUGUSTThe Curiosity Box continued with Curious member Helen Russell sharing her own work on developing students aural skills.
At the end of the month we were found at the EPTA UK conference in Nottingham. It was so lovely to meet up with Keynote Speaker William Westney again. We were delighted to welcome him as a Curious Expert! Our 5-day Lesson Observation Experience proved extremely popular with teachers who wanted a glimpse into our studios.
SEPTEMBERIn the Northern Hemisphere this is always a month of beginnings; and so it was with us. Our first, official, diploma students began their 15 months of study. We also welcomed many new members into The Community for the first time. A new and fully comprehensive version of The Piano Framework* was made available to members in this month’s Curiosity Box: Planning for Progression. Sally and Sharon also spent a fab and fun day with photographer Richard Watson: “when you two laugh together it is a really beautiful thing!” (And yes, there were a lot of laughs that day!) *The Piano Framework provides a comprehensive overview of all musical concepts and skills that are involved in learning and playing the piano from the first lesson up to Advanced level.
OCTOBERKnowing that improvisation is always a bit of a thorny issue for teachers we asked all the great and good in the world of music education to share their advice with us. We were delighted that so many experts took part in our 10 week Improvisation Symposium Over in the Curiosity Box we looked at Trills & Frills – Discovering the Principles behind Baroque Style and Interpretation under the expert guidance of Graham Fitch.
NOVEMBERThe start of the month found us at the ABRSM conference and enjoying seeing our Curious logo on every bag!
We took advantage of Christmas being just round the corner to make it the topic of a bumper Curiosity Box: A Christmas Full of Harmony. Forrest Kinney, Christopher Fisher, Alison Mathews and Lucinda Mackworth-Young were all contributors. At the end of the month Sally made it along to her first Music Mark conference and was delighted to be able to try one of Casio’s Celviano pianos.
DECEMBERWe had been commissioned by the Pianist magazine to write an article on ‘How to be a piano teacher’ and this was published in the December/January issue. A number of our pilot Diploma students have recently sat their exams. Just yesterday, the first result came through. We were so delighted to hear of our first ever Diploma candidate achieving success! “Without The Curious Piano Teachers I would never have managed it… this online course was invaluable.”
LOOKING BACK AT 2017To be honest it’s not always been the easiest of years for us. Back in the early summer was particularly difficult as both of us had personal circumstances to deal with. But then, that’s all part of life and we know that we are not the only ones who will have lost someone this year or been through other challenges in their lives. What helped both of us was the care and support that we received from the many wonderful men and women who make up our Curious Community of piano teachers – to all of you THANK YOU.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018Well first on the ‘to-do’ list is our Curious LIVE events in February. We’re thrilled that in the first 5 days of being available 50 tickets have already been sold! This is truly going to be a conference series like no other. Click here to find out more about Curious LIVE We also have plans to overhaul our entire website and although you might not notice many changes for a while this is going to keep us pretty busy behind the scenes.
Over the last couple of months we have been invited to have some highly interesting discussions with several ‘big players’ in the music education world. We can’t say anymore but stay curious for further developments.