Pattern Play Teaching Intensive Day 2

It has been a remarkable two days full of music-making, learning, growing, questioning, and thinking. Lots of thinking. I have greatly enjoyed sitting under the instruction of Akiko and Forrest. Even though it was stretching in a lot of ways, I know it is good for me to feel like a beginner and be forced to think more deeply about my approach to teaching. What are the musical ideals I have for my students? What do I value the most in their music education? I found myself pondering these questions a lot during last week’s Pursuit of Music piano camp with my students. And I am compelled to continue to ask these questions in light of the new things I have learned this week.

I am reminded of a saying I’ve heard numerous times: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.” It is so important for those of us who are teaching to be intentional in every aspect of the way we run our studios, interact with the families, and plan and conduct lessons with our students. Why do you use a particular method series? For what purpose are you having students learn to play scales and arpeggios? What is the point of the repertoire piece that the student has been assigned to learn? Do I even know why I structure the lesson the way I do, or is it a mindless adherence to some unspoken protocol of what a piano lesson should look like?

As I alluded to yesterday, it’s a bit unnerving to have your entire pedagogical approach to music education challenged. But there’s also an excitement in considering the possibilities and potential that could be realized if you are willing to take the risk of trying something new. Wow. I kind of make it sound like I’m getting ready to try a new surgical procedure with life and death implications! I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but there has been a good bit of psychological wrestling among pretty much all of us in the workshop these past two days as we try to reconcile the philosophies espoused by the Kinney’s with the way most of us have been trained to think about playing and teaching music.

I know I’ll be posting much more about this in the days ahead, but for now I thought I would share with you a brief overview of Forrest Kinney’s conclusion of our 2-day teaching intensive with his list of 17 musical ideals that he has for each of his students. Forrest said that the first thing he wants his students to be able to do is play freely at the piano,  improvise without a score or plan, play from a purely intuitive, non-theoretical state of mind. Then he went on to mention his remaining goals:

2. Improvise on tunes.
3. Improvise in a way that could be called “instant composition.”
4. Ability to improvise with others.
5. Arrange tunes by ear.
6. Arrange a tune in any style.
7. Arrange instantly with others.
8. Transpose into any key.
9. Read a lead sheet.
10. Compose/write musical essays.
11. Interpret notation with expressiveness.
12. Sightread well.
13. Strong memories.
14. Interpret musical scores with others.
15. Understand musical patterns (a.k.a. music theory).
16. Play with physical and psychological ease.
17. Love what they are doing.

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