The Curious Piano Teachers celebrate 5 years – part 1

This week it’s a whole five year since the official launch of The Curious Piano Teachers! We’re celebrating with online parties for our members and we’re also looking back at how we got here. Here’s the back story to date.

The Curious Piano Teachers

WHEN SALLY MET SHARON

…and what happened next.

Back in 2004 Sally presented a lecture called Developing the Complete Pianist at the Music Teachers in Professional Practice Summer School, organised by the University of Reading. One of the students there was a young Sharon who was immediately drawn to the concept of sound before symbol. A couple of years later Sally became Sharon’s tutor as she completed her M.A. dissertation.

THE PIANO TEACHERS’ COURSE (UK)

…a breeding ground of ideas and innovation.

Their next point of contact was working together on the innovative and ground-breaking Piano Teachers’ Course (UK) run yearly at The Purcell School. The nurturing and inclusive atmosphere of the course, led by its Director Lucinda Mackworth-Young, provided a powerful model for when The Curious Piano Teachers was set up.

GOING THEIR SEPARATE WAYS 

After a couple of years of working together on the PTC, life took them once again their separate ways. Sally left her Director of Music post and went freelance, working for The Voices Foundation and ABRSM amongst others. She set up a piano teaching studio again and started to study for her PhD. Sharon returned home to settle permanently in Northern Ireland, hired a business coach and established evoco, a music education organisation specialising in piano teacher training.

A LITTLE COFFEE SHOP IN NEWCASTLE

…and the start of an idea.
By 2014 Sally was officially Dr Sally Cathcart and Sharon’s business evoco was thriving. Having guest lecturers as part of the teacher training course Sharon had devised and in May of that year, Sally flew across to NI to deliver a training day for all the teacher’s enrolled. Having not seen each other for a few years there was quite a lot of catching up to do, most of it over coffee!

Sitting in Nikki’s Kitchen, a coffee shop in the seaside town of Newcastle, Sharon and Sally excitedly began to realise that they were both thinking along the same lines; many piano teachers looking to develop their teaching further; cost, travel and convenience were major difficulties in accessing training; training had to be on-going over months or years for it to have a lasting impact on teaching practice; the internet had enormous potential for providing a platform for delivering something different. By the end of the weekend, they had a small idea that this was something they could do – together!

FINDING A NAME

As always, having an idea is the easy bit! Actually getting started and pinning down all the ideas and schemes flying around is sooo much harder.
Sally says: I remember Sharon coming over to stay with me for a couple of days that summer and filling the entire kitchen with sheets of Magic White Board and post-it notes.

We had idea after idea and we didn’t want to lose one of them. Initially, we put together a signature course based on how to teach beginners, which as far as we are concerned, is the hardest and yet most often level taught. Furthermore, we wanted to have a vibrant and positive name and spent some time exploring ideas. Many, many names were considered and then dismissed before we settled on ‘Clarify’!

THE CURIOUS PIANO TEACHERS

Looking back there was so much that we didn’t know. The learning curve was almost vertical. Establishing the business, commissioning a website to be built, designing the content, grappling with social media were all new ventures. Fortunately, we had both fallen in love with the idea and what we were doing and we worked our socks off – our poor husbands didn’t really see much of us during this time.

As time went on the way and we worked through the problems the way forward became a little clearer. Clarify was dropped in favour of The Curious Piano Teachers (phew!), the signature course became a membership site, and the brand and logo for The Curious Piano Teachers were created.

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER

By February 2015 we were almost ready to launch. We thought we had a pretty unique business, one that would help bring piano teachers together, out of their isolation and into a place of strength and knowledge. Together, we thought, we can be stronger as a profession.

It was time to begin.

The Curious Piano Teachers

Sally and Sharon back in 2015 at the start of the journey – the message is still the same

 

This blog post was written by Dr Sally Cathcart, co-founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers

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