As I begin to write this, the last blog of the year, I am flying over the Irish Sea in what has become a familiar route for our quarterly Curious Piano Teachers business meetings.
2016 has been quite a year in one way or another, hasn’t it? As I have struggled to make sense of everything that has gone on in the world I am drawn, ever closer, to the beauty and benefits of music as a central part of my life.
The concert pianist and polymath Stephen Hough summed it up recently when he wrote:
Music is a poetic response to life, a reaching beyond the everyday - Stephen HoughTweet quote
In my role as a piano teacher, passing this feeling onto the next generation is my primary aim and I believe it should be at the heart of all our teaching.
The new year got off to an energetic start with a Goal Setting Workshop for all our Community members. We spent some time reviewing our teaching in 2015 and then set ourselves some ‘Curious Intentions’ for 2016. Sharon recently asked me how my juggling is progressing…!
Cupcakes and sight-reading were the main themes in February. We welcomed lots of teachers to our stand at the Music Education Expo in London where the specially-made cupcakes went down a treat. Teachers were queuing round the block to get into my presentation on 7 steps to sight-reading success and it was standing room only. As a result of the presentation there has been a very exciting development about this – it’s all very hush, hush at the moment but stay curious!
Our blog series The Joy of Scales came to an end this month. Lots of teachers told us how much they loved blogs and many shared their own teaching tips on scales. If you missed the posts click here.
The doors to The Community of The Curious Piano Teachers were open once again in April and we welcomed many more teachers into the group. It was lovely, as always, to get positive feedback from them:
“I feel so much more confident as a piano teacher and have gained huge amounts of knowledge as well as renewed enthusiasm for teaching” (Michele)
“Being a member of The Community is amazing, I genuinely love it… and I use the resources all the time!” (Clare)
The month of May heralded the formation of new connections for The Curious Piano Teachers. The creator of Music Tool Suite, Professor Rena Upitis, contacted us to discuss the possibility of us working together. (More on that later). In turn we reached out to the authors of Piano Safari, a method book that had struck a close chord with Sharon, myself and other piano teachers. We were delighted when Andrew Higgins from Alfred (UK) – and one of our Curious Experts – made it possible for the whole series to be easily purchased in the UK.
Would you record yourself teaching so that hundreds of other teachers could learn and benefit from watching it? Well that’s exactly what five members of The Community volunteered to do. This month’s Curiosity Box focussed on how teachers can communicate more effectively with pupils so that they become independent learners. Our curious teachers each recorded a lesson and Sharon and I gave them practical and helpful tips on what we saw. Needless to say it was a fascinating box.
With my researcher’s hat on, the ISME conference in Glasgow made for a fascinating few days. Keynote speeches, presentations and a real melting pot of music educators from around the world made for a lively and vibrant mix. With great excitement, back on our website, we published our first on-line course Let’s Play.
Whilst lots of teachers were on holiday we gave the website a makeover and launched our online Shop. Developing partnerships with publishers and retailers also meant that piano teachers, who had subscribed to become members of The Community, were eligible to substantial discounts on music and resources.
Another month of ‘firsts’ as our Online Piano Teaching Diploma Course welcomed its first ever students. Amongst the general excitement of getting going with the reading, discussions and on-line meetings there were lots of giggles at the names given to the study groups: Victoria Sponge, Carrot and Walnut, Chocolate Fudge and Lemon Drizzle give you a curious flavour!
Alongside our blog series on the Power of Practice we created a free Curious Piano Teachers e-book for everyone to share with parents. If you missed it you can still get it HERE.
Also, we welcomed lots more teachers into the Community as our subscription package of resources, videos and forum support continued to grow in popularity.
Ed (our Curious Elephant) loved going back up to London for the annual ABRSM Teacher’s Conference. There were lots of teachers there for him to meet and share his passion for the piano with. We also published our first official brochure – click here to have a peek!
We were delighted too that Professor Rena Upitis became our first ever guest blog contributor with her 4-part blog series that introduced Cadenza, a free online resource that has been known to help students practice more frequently and more effectively.
As we move into 2017 there are some exciting developments to look forward to. Sharon will be having a baby in February whilst Sally is off to be curious at the MTNA conference in March. It is with great pleasure that we can also announce that The Curious Piano Teachers have just accepted the offer to join the Music Tool Suite partnership and executive.
Sharon and I continue to be as passionate as ever about the role and relevance that music and the piano has in life. We are committed to helping all of you become the best teachers you possibly can – our pupils deserve it!
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, peaceful and music-filled holiday wherever you are in the world.