National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 8:15 p.m.

Dr. Richard Kogan is the evening concert artist. He is doing a combined lecture/recital of George Gershwin. His musical program includes:
Rhapsody in Blue
Fantasy on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess arr. Earl Wild

Right now, he is sharing biographical information about Gershwin.

Interspersed with his lecture, Dr. Kogan is adding other musical pieces. Here he plays Swanee.

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 3:15 p.m.

Today’s mini-recital includes three young performers.

Andrew French, age 8 is playing:
Minuet Op. 14, No. 1 by Paderewski arr. Faber
Theme from Symphony No. 1, 3rd Movement by Mahler arr. Faber
Prince of Denmark March by Clarke arr. Faber

The second performer is Mary Hilding, age 9, performing:
Scherzo by Diabelli
Spring from Four Seasons by Vivaldi arr. Faber
Finale from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens arr. Faber

The final performer is Agatha Kielczewski, age 17, performing:
Impromptu in E-flat, Op. 90, No. 2 by Schubert

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 2:00 p.m.

James Goldsworthy presents Keeping the First Lesson Open-Ended

Mr. Goldsworthy has posed a question, “What if you could start a new student and then four months later could start again?” He has experimented with this idea in his own teaching. In fact, he has even explored the possibility of “beginning three times.” He encourages teachers to think outside the box.

He is having the audience sing “Hot Cross Buns” with him. About 15 years ago, he determined that he wanted the student’s playing to be on their voice. He wanted them to go to their playing with their singing as the impetus. He has rewritten the melodic notes of “Hot Cross Buns” in a variety of rhythms to demonstrate one what that things can be done “outside the box.”

Mr. Goldsworthy discusses for several minutes the importance of having students take repeats. He says that this helps prepare them for the music of Bach or the first movements of the Classical sonatas. He also led the audience singing the song again, but this time incorporated an appogiatura on the second beat. He is emphasizing that many skills and techniques can be taught in the very first lesson even though the student is not consciously aware that it is taking place.

“We are not just teaching a piano lesson. We are teaching life.”

First thing Mr. Goldsworthy does with a group of students is sit down in a circle with everyone and begin introductions. He states and repeats names in a sing-songy rhythm. He shared an illustration to highlight the fact that teachers should maintain the flow in their groups, not being too eager to correct students for mistakes when in reality the student has responded correctly – perhaps it just wasn’t in line with the response the teacher expected.

Mr. Goldsworthy just introduced a term called “springing the scanscion” by saying that he no longer has trouble with his students playing dotted quarter followed by eighth notes. How is that possible? They feel the eighth note. He spoke a sentence (“Why are you crying?”), placing the inflection of his voice on a different word each time to show that there is the potential for 4 different meanings to the same words.

Einstein said, “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science. He who knows it not can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed out candle.”

Mr. Goldsworthy tells his university students “I’m not interested in answers. I’m interested in the possibilities.” “Because who knows the answers anyway?” He asks rhetorically. He added that he is convinced that one of these students could be the one who solves the Middle East crisis…or makes sure that people are no longer poor, etc. That’s why our teaching matters.

He goes on to discuss the theoretic elements contained in Hot Cross Buns. The most important notes in the key are: Do, Mi, Ti, Fa (in that order). These principles can be taught from the very first lesson. He performs an object lesson with coins, illustrating that what’s bigger is lower if it’s made from the same material. One of the first week assignments he gives his students is to drop two objects of differing sizes that are made of the same material and write down what they dropped and the resulting sounds. Nothing glass or sharp, he adds. If students understand this principle and see the different lengths of strings in the piano, they will more readily understand the concept of lower and higher sounds and ends of the keyboard.

As teachers we can create situations that make things come alive for our students.

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 12:15 p.m.

Phillip Keveren is the noontime artist today. Before the recital began, the audience joined together to sing Happy Anniversary to him and his wife, Lisa, who are celebrating their 22nd anniversary today.

Mr. Keveren’s recital includes:
Classical Folk Suite arr. by Keveren
Americana Suite arr. by Keveren
Classical Jazz Suite arr. by Keveren
Awesome God/Lord, I Lift Your Name on High arr. by Keveren
Yearning by Keveren
Improvisation on themes from audience

Next Mr. Keveren stated that the composer in him has more fun composing than performing, so he asked for some assistance from the audience. He asked for a phone number, and upon receiving one from a lady, along with her favorite key center, proceeded to improvise on the spot a Serenade in G Major. Of course, it was marvelous!

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 10:15 a.m.

William Westney is up now, giving a teaching demonstration with several students that he has never met before. He’ll be working with a group of three students.

Dr. Westney shares of when he went to Germany to study piano and was eager to be a good student, give his opinions and answers. He soon discovered that his 74-year old teacher didn’t much care what he had to say. After playing through a piece 37 times with his teacher saying, “A little more. A little less. Not this. Do that.” Until finally, on the 39th time, his teacher jumped up and exclaimed, “Yes! That’s it!” However, Dr. Westney had no idea what was different that time. Although he had worked with a master teacher for years, he didn’t know enough to duplicate the experiences himself and ultimately came to doubt himself.

Dr. Westney is now working with the group of students. He is encouraging the students to relax. He has started a musical recording and is passing an object around the circle and has instructed each student to pass the object in the mood of the music. Now he is having the students just copy his movements as he responds to the music. Each student takes a turn leading the movements and the others imitate.

Judith has announced that she’ll be playing the first movement of the Schubert G Major Sonata. Dr. Westney has asked her what she would most like to happen for her listeners when they hear her play it. She responds that she would really like to enjoy it as she plays so that the audience will enjoy it as well. Dr. Westney asks if there is anything in particular that is difficult that might keep it from being played well. Judith responds that she has small hands and has a tendency to try to push the sound from the big chords instead of just letting it ring. He asks her about the interpretation. Does she like it? She loves it! She loves the themes and likes to let it really ring out. Dr. Westney asks her to focus on that as she plays.

Dr. Westney has stopped Judith early and said he hates to do that, because he felt particularly engaged in what she was doing. The piece can have a tendency to become boring, but he is convinced that this is a piece that she “gets” and enjoys working on. That doesn’t mean that there’s not some little edge that she can work on. But he has to search for it. 🙂 He proceeds to share some of his perceptions and suggestions. He asks her what she has in mind for the difference of the two themes. She responds: The first theme – more thoughtful, pensive, tragic. The second theme – happy memories. Dr. Westney asks another student, Maria, to help him with a little experiment. Can Judith play this piece without looking at her hands? Yes. Dr. Westney and Maria are going to move to her playing, similar to what they did with the recorded music earlier. They are going to follow her.

After another performance of part of the piece, Dr. Westney asks her to imagine that she is playing in a G Major Schubert competition where 100 contestants are all playing the same piece. She has just played as contestant. Now she is asked to play as two other contestants who are also good, but have a different way of playing the piece. For the final time through, Judith is given instruction to choose whatever elements she liked from any of the versions and combine them as she plays through. This is what Dr. Westney calls “musical brainstorming” – throw any idea out, try them all, eventually they’ll be sifted through and you’ll come up with what you like.

The next student, Kelly, is playing the Brahms Op. 118, No. 2. Upon being asked by Dr. Westney, he indicates that he would most like the piece to sound natural. Dr. Westney leaves it at that and sits back to listen.

Dr. Westney shares how at first the piece sounded very small and as a listener he had to work hard to meet him more than halfway. However, it was transformed in the B section when the sound broke forth and just sang. By way of critique, he suggests that the soft sounds lost a bit of luster and became more of an inner sound. Dr. Westney calls for Judith to help and the two of them position themselves at different places at the piano. He asks Kelly to look at them and shift his eyes from one to the other, using the piano to speak to one of them and then the other. They will respond to his playing with verbal expressions of their own. (wow! The sound was incredible this time!)

As a closing exercise with the students, Dr. Westney is having them form themselves into a diamond shape. Recorded music is going to play and the students are to copy his movements. When he calls, “turn,” they will turn clockwise and the next person will be the leader. Ending in the same manner that they began.

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 9:30 a.m.

Angela Myles Beeching, author of Beyond Talent, is presenting the next keynote address – Is What We Do Relevant?

“I’ve posed kind of a scary question. And perhaps it’s partly because of my age. You find yourself asking that question more as you get older.”

“We all know how difficult it is to promote the arts. Musicians are not usually the best advocacy people. If you’re having a conversation with a prospective student and you have to explain specifically the benefit the student will receive from studying with you, what would you say?” Each one in the audience has received an index card and is supposed to come up with 3 specific points stating what the specific benefits are of studying with them. Now the audience members have been asked to turn to someone next to them that they do not know very well and share what they wrote on their card.

“How many of you sold yourself short in your description?” No hands. “Okay, we must have a roomful of big egos.”

“There’s often a gap between what we intend and what we deliver. Between what we think is going on and what the student is actually experiencing. It would be nice to have a control group that actually gave us honest feedback.”

“Take a step back and put this in a larger context. There have been many research projects done to indicate that there are definite benefits from music education, including:
* spacial reasoning
* math achievement
* reading achievement

Some benefits of intensive musical education:
* self confidence
* risk taking
* attentiveness
* perseverance
* collaboration
* leadership
* higher order thinking

“The problem is that these reports do not tell us the how. How does this happen with students? I think it’s because it’s multi-dimension that it has such a powerful and can have a transforming effect on a student. The physical, spiritual and emotion dimensions engage the student.”

“In the US every year, there are over 100,000 students working in a music degree program. What are their expectations? What if they all expect to be soloists and have performing careers? What kind of world are we graduating them into? Last year, the total number of piano opening positions was 87.”

“A friend asked how I can work in the conservatory when I am aware of this supply and demand problem? He was asking how I can do what I do in good conscience. Sometimes we live in a little bubble of the art world. It’s easy to think that that is the world. But that’s not what the rest of our country thinks is real.”

“In a country where our primary export is popular culture and classical and jazz audiences are declining and symphonies are going bankrupt, what are we to do? We live in between these worlds.”

Ms. Beeching shares of her application to an Ivy League school several years ago. She was in a roomful of career services personal and was asked, “How do you see your background, your education, contributing to this job?” It was a version of our question today, “How is what you’re doing relevant?” What good is a music degree?

Ms. Beeching shares of her conversation with a young man asking about the potential for getting jobs in the music field. He was already over $100,000 in debt and wanted to know what options would be available if he pursued a higher degree in his field.

“We are being asked constantly to evaluate the value of what we do.”

Benefits of advanced study:
Deepen abilities to think analytically and critically
Know on a deeper level a handful of great works of art
Deeper understanding of ourselves, humanity and the world

To look at life through a lens of the arts is to live a transformed existence.

“Relevancy is not synonymous with value. The world is made better one person at a time. In music lessons with students, you are more than a teacher, you are a role model, a shining light. The lives we touch are irrevocably changed. The power of the arts transforms lives in a multi-dimensional way.”

Now, Ms. Beecher has asked the audience to stand. She asks the question, “Is what we do relevant?” The audience has been instructed to respond with an enthusiastic “yes!” and does so.

National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy – Friday 8:00 a.m.

We’re back bright and early this morning and are starting the day with an energetic presentation by Dr. Helen Marlais as she showcases some of the newest FJH music books.

She began her presentation with a performance of Fossils, from Carnival of the Animals, published in book 6 of the new In Recital with Classical Themes series.

Included in our packets today are:
* Succeeding with the Masters – Classical Era, Volume I with CD
* Succeeding with the Masters – Classical Era, Volume I Student Activity Book
* In Recital with Classical Themes, Book 3 with CD
* The Festival Collection, Book 2 with CD
* Contemporary Collage – Music of the 21st Century, Volume I Book I

Dr. Marlais is walking us through each of the above books, playing select pieces from each one.