More 2013 MTNA Conference Notes

We should be back to the Monday Mailbag feature next week, but for this week, I thought I would direct you to several other teachers who have blogged about the conference:

If you know of any other conference blog posts, please let me know and I will add them to the list!

2013 MTNA Conference – Full Conference Blog Post Schedule

Saturday
Welcome to Southern California!
Evening – Opening Session

Sunday
Early Morning – Faber Showcase
Morning – Advanced Masterclass
Late Morning – Elementary Piano Technique by Nancy Bachus
Early Afternoon – Alfred Showcase
Afternoon – Ten Steps to Parnassus: The Keyboard Works of Johann Sebastian Bach
Late Afternoon – Variety
Night – Dinner Get-Together

Monday
Early Morning – Frederick Harris Showcase
Morning – Keynote Presentation by Rick Beyer
Late Morning – Intermediate Masterclass with Ingrid Clarfield
Early Afternoon – Hal Leonard Showcase
Afternoon – Creating Flow in Worship by Mark Hayes

Tuesday
Early Morning – Schott Showcase
Morning – Piano Duo Masterclass
Late Morning – Got Questions?
Early Afternoon – Willis Showcase
Afternoon – Inspired Uses of the iPad in Your Studio
Photo Highlights
Night – Anderson & Roe Piano Duo Concert

Wednesday
Morning – Sense of Rhythm and Timing with Latin American Music
Morning – Speaking Their Language: Teaching the Child with Autism

2013 MTNA Conference – Wednesday Morning – Speaking Their Language: Teaching the Child with Autism

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Hannah Creviston, Victoria Jacobs, and Heather Wheeler presented this session, each coming from different perspectives and diverse experiences, but with a desire to help music educators best know how to teach children with autism.

Hannah began with a poem about someone planning a trip to Italy, but ending up in Holland. Dealing with children with autism is not bad, but just different. They have different ways of understanding and processing.

The incidence rate of autism is continually rising. 1 in 88 children currently are diagnosed with autism. This is a dramatic increase from 1 in 2500 in the mid-1980s. Autism is four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Some statistics show that many of these children will lose the diagnosis as they become adults.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the severity of it can be drastically different in different people. Children with autism exhibit deficits in:
* Communication Skills – delayed speech, small vocabulary, difficulty understanding conversation, repeating words and phrases (many of these students have “steel trap” minds, retaining details of what they’ve been told)
* Social Interactions – no eye contact, lack of facial expression, playing on their own even in group settings
* Behavioral Skills – tip-toeing, focusing on parts of a toy rather than the whole thing, hand-flapping, obsessive compulsive organization in play

“If a child cannot learn in the way we teach…we must teach in a way the child can learn.” ~Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas

As teachers, it’s our job to find the “puzzle piece” to teach these children in a way that they can learn.

Tips:
* See the child, not the diagnosis.
* Each child is different.
* Teach visually.
* Be aware of environmental distractions (ambient noises, rearranged furniture, etc.).
* Avoid multiple terms for the same concept (start with the desired end vocabulary right off the bat; be literal).
* Be structured, but flexible (routine and schedule and order are very important).
* Tackle one issue at a time.
* Be patient with yourself and your student (their behavior is unpredictable and should not be taken personally).
* Give the student time to process questions and concepts (don’t expect immediate feedback).

Victoria shared from her perspective as a mother as well as a teacher. She had never heard of autism when her son was diagnosed with it at the age of five. If you want to know how to structure a good music lesson, she recommends, “The Me Book” by Dr. Lovaas. Visit his website for more information. He advocates that these children can be contributors to society in a meaningful way.

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Children with autism don’t usually recognize body language, gestures, or facial expressions. They often are not spacially aware, so if you come stand right next to them they won’t move over.

Executive Function:
* I can organize my stuff and yours, but I cannot mentally file information.

* need a menu of options to think through a problem.

Children with autism need a method that is incremental. Staying in the same position, using the same finger on the same keys is very important. Victoria recommends Leila Fletcher’s Music Lessons.

Focus on Rules…especially ones that don’t change:
* Begin with absolutes.
* Use the same music vocabulary that you would with an adult.
* Layer one concept at a time with lots of repetition and practice (consider which layer goes on the bottom – for note reading, think of the staff as the bottom layer, then the clef, then the notes, etc.).
* Keep the lesson routine the same every time.

Don’t let the child take charge of their own learning; they will make rules for you! Be clear about your roles as a teacher and student. Be firm in what you expect and require of them. Consider how to help the student be successful in the real world.

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Heather shared about her experience with several students. Before she first met with her prospective student, she contacted Scott Price for advice and worked with the student’s mother to put together a lesson plan. This involved moving the piano (away from a mirror that would distract), directing him immediately to the bench when he arrived, putting together a page with velcro squares that identified each activity they would include in the lesson. As they completed each activity, the square was removed from the board.

The first major decision was whether to teach him by reading or by rote. Heather was more comfortable with reading, but could tell that the student would be more successful with rote learning. He could already play things by rote that he had learned from movies. His mom was very involved in the lessons, participating as much as possible to assist with learning and reinforcing specific techniques and skills. While he imitated tunes by ear, Heather and his mom worked to adjust his hand position and fingering.

When teaching reading, it is essential to assign only one absolute name to each note.

Recitals were a great opportunity for him to be successful. His mom had to help him stay focused on the playing rather than on the audience.

Her other student was high-functioning, and she didn’t even know for a couple of years that he was in the autism spectrum. Often, all it took was one simple instructive for him to stop burping or stop making a tick-tock noise whenever she was talking.

Once her student learned a piece, if he had learned it with an incorrect note and she corrected it, it was very traumatic for him.

The biggest challenge was teaching musicality. Conversations about tone, phrasing, dynamics, character of the music, etc. didn’t work. When she wrote very specific dynamic markings in the score, though, he was able to follow the markings and play musically. Being concrete is essential because they don’t understand abstract concepts and emotions.

An audience member asked about the model of weekly lessons and whether we need to re-think that for students with autism. The presenters said that the daily involvement and reinforcement of the parent is essential. Hannah video records her lessons and uploads them to YouTube and her student watches them over and over during the week.

A question was posed about the difference between autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Tony Attwood’s book, “Asperger’s Syndrome” is a good resource for understanding the criteria for different levels of autism on the spectrum.

Everything must be taught step-by-step. Children with autism do not learn environmentally, so they won’t connect the fact that no one else is doing something a certain way. They love rules and will thrive if they are given a rule that they can follow in the given situation.

2013 MTNA Conference – Wednesday Morning – Sense of Rhythm and Timing with Latin American Music

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The final day of the conference began with a session by Alejandro Cremaschi, a specialist in Latin American music, group piano, and technology.

He will primarily be covering pieces from Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina with different rhythmic energies – from elegant salon pieces, to wild toccata-like music.

What can you learn by studying these pieces?
* Embodied rhythm
* Different rhythmic energies
* Direction (a combination of rhythm and shape)
* Syncopation
* Irregular rhythmic groupings
* Layering of rhythms
* Effective management of stamina
* Flexibility

Thinking Rhythm
* First thing we teach: steady pulse and counting rhythm
* Counting and clapping
-unit (counting the length of each note)
-metric (counting the number of beats in each measure)
-Kodaly’s “ti-ti-ta-ta”

Rhythmic Words
* Use of rhythmic words to help internalization
-“walk” – quarter note
-“whole-note-hold-it” – whole note
-“half-note” – half note
-“moun-tain” – eighth notes
-“Col-o-ra-do” – sixteenth notes
-“buf-fa-lo” – two sixteenth then eighth notes
-“blueberry” – eighth then two sixteenths
-“rabbit” – dotted quarter then eighth note
“pineapple” – triplet

Teaching Rhythm
* Sightreading and Rhythm Every Day by Helen Marlais and Kevin Olson
* Rhythmic dictation from early on

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Rhythmic Performance
* Clap and count
* Marching and stomping the beat
* Conducting the beat (rhythmic solfege)
* Scatting with direction

Alejandro displayed a grid and then pointed out that humans have an “organic rhythm.” No matter how hard they try, their rhythm will never be perfectly aligned. This is what gives it life.

He had the attendees sing “Yankee Doodle” as if we had been riding the rides at Disneyland and were a bit worn out. It was boring and not engaging. Then he had us stand and march, with extra emphasis stomping on certain notes and big breaths between the phrases. Much more interesting and vibrant!

Alejandro recommended a book by Pedro de Alcantra. Integrated Practice: Coordination, Rhythm, and Sound by Oxford University Press.
Building blocks result of three types of energy:
* Preparation (p)
* STRESS (S)
* Release (r)

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He related these rhythmic ideas to the ocean: you have a wave, then a bigger wave, then the biggest wave, then back down to a smaller wave again.

Latin American Music
* Dance and songs
* Origins
– Spanish/Portuguese
-African
-Indigenous

Habanera rhythm as origin of many 2/4 dances
-Tango, milonga, candombe, danza, danzon, cha-cha-cha, mambo, guaracha, maxixe, reggaeton, cumbia

For the remainder of the session, Alejandro played a variety of pieces from his handout to give us a musical idea of the rhythms he showed us and had us try clapping and snapping together.

He began by addressing the idea of rubato and tempo flexibility. Rubato is an oral tradition. You learn it by listening and observing; not by scientific explanation.

Alejandro played Odeon: Tango Brasileiro by Ernesto Nazareth (known as the Brazilian Joplin) to demonstrate how articulation can affect the rhythmic energy of the piece.

One idea for teaching cross-rhythms – march the eighth notes while humming/vocalizing the triplets.

The handout from today’s session is available at Alejandro’s website: http://www.alejandrocremaschi.com

2013 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Night – Anderson & Roe Piano Duo Concert

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The engaging pair took the stage again this evening, this time as the performers of a diverse selection of music, much of which they arranged themselves:

Papageno!! (a short fantasy based on arias from Die Zauberflute, K. 620) by Mozart, Arr. Anderson & Roe

Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 by Mozart

The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky

Ragtime alla Turca (after the Rondo all Turca, K. 331) by Mozart, Arr. Anderson & Roe

Carmen Fantasy for Two Pianos by Bizet, Arr. Anderson & Roe

“Vocalise,” Op. 34, No. 14 by Rachmaninoff, Arr. Anderson & Roe

Three Waltzes for Two Pianos: a medley of waltzes made famous in Disney films arr. Anderson & Roe

2013 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Afternoon – Inspired Uses of the iPad in Your Studio

Conference attendees flocked by the hundreds (or something like that!) to this tech-focused session. Before the session began, everyone received a complimentary copy of the brand new publication by Yamaha, SimpleTec:

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A technology superstar lineup of music educators was introduced and the session launched! George Litterst began by saying that they have been working on a room-expansion software, but it’s still in development. :-)

As we all know we are living in an age of rapid change. The iPad has emerged, and where the room might have had 10 people in previous years, its popularity explains the overflowing room. George wanted to give everyone a vision of where this technology is headed in the years ahead.

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He showed a video clip of Mario Ajero’s son playing along with a recorded song on the iPad.

Shana Kirk answered the questions, “Why iPad?”
* Tablets are everywhere!
* iPad continues to dominate sales (about half of all tablet sales).
* iOS fully supports MIDI (harder to come by on non-iOS device).
* Anecdotal observations (prospect for more possibilities and opportunities).

It’s nice to have one device that takes the place of so many teaching tools that we have used for years: camera, flashcards, metronome, dictionary, etc. It can save lots of time and clutter!

George adds that the iPad does not, however, replace the teacher, but that we can refer to ourselves as “iPad compatible.”

Mario Ajero shared why the iPad is more than a pretty toy:
* Media player gives students audio and video to play along with (iTunes, YouTube, Vevo)
* Multi-touch and Siri interfaces are more intuitive to younger children (especially those who are not yet reading)

He referenced the musicnotes.com app for selected sheet music, then showed a clip of his daughter playing “Skyfall” from iTunes by giving Siri the specific command.

People ask about suggestions for making the audio louder:
* Headphones for practice.
* External speakers.
* Digital piano audio in.
* Airplay over WiFi network.

Mario moved into talking about MTV. It was very influential in his musical development because he anxiously awaited music videos from his favorite musicians so that he could learn their songs. This generations, “MTV” is YouTube, Vevo, or Spotify.

George clarified that any reference to iOS devices refers to the operating system used by Apple devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Stella Sick next gave an overview of what to look for in Music Reader Apps. She encouraged users to consider how the content is accessed, cost, music-sharing options, and page turning options. One recommended app was forScore, which is available for $4.99. Scores can be easily marked, shared via e-mail or Dropbox, and manipulated for teaching purposes.

She proceeded to give an overview of several other music reading apps:

Music Notes is a free app that works with an air turn (you don’t have to use your hand to turn pages). PerformPro ($1.99) accesses scores through their own store and also offers a scroll view with speed adjustment. Chromatik (free) allows sharing scores with all annotations and notes and still has new features in development, including an ability for students to record themselves playing certain portions of the score to receive feedback from their teacher. The free Notezart app has many features, including direct access to imslp.org (!). The Finale Songbook app plays only .mus scores (created in Finale), but allows for playback. VSheetMusic is another free app that often comes with mp3 files for instrumental scores with options for playing with accompaniment tracks.

Mario spoke about “The iPad as Your Practice Partner”:
* NoteStar: backup studio musician tracks play along with scrolling music notation.
* Jammit: jam with a band’s original master tracks by isolating or remove an instrument from the mix
* Home Concert Xtreme: Learn, practice and perform with smart MIDI accompaniment

More about NoteStar:
* A large library of mostly pop songs.
* You can preview the song score and recording.
* You can change the size of the score.
* Transposition is available at no charge (the files are digital audio files, though, not MIDI files).
* Some ability to adjust tempo.
* Select where you want the vocals on or off.
* Looping feature so that you can work on a specific section.

More about Home Concert Xtreme:
* Available for the iPad in iTunes App Store.
* Works with any MIDI file.
* Displays music notation as it plays (lots of flexibility with tempo).
* Smart accompaniment that follows the pianist playing.
* Learn mode, jam mode, and perform mode.
* Can plugin to a Yamaha Disklavier and play the sounds through it.

Shana talked about “Instant replay, no wires needed!” No matter what kind of piano you are using, you can record and immediately play it back for the student to watch and listen. With an air play studio you can wirelessly project it onto a screen or even the wall for the student to see in a larger-than-life playback.

George spoke about the iPad MIDI studio. With a larger TV screen in your studio you can project recorded iPad videos to the screen for instant viewing!

What you Need:
* iPad
* MIDI apps
* appropriate connecting cables

Look for George’s blog on the Clavier Companion website to see his detailed explanations of how to set up these connections.

iConnect MIDI is the way to get fancy at the teacher’s station!

iPad AirPlay Studio – George recommends having a large flat panel screen mounted to the wall of your studio. In addition to showing student recordings, you can access YouTube, other internet sites, etc. He gave an outline of how to go about setting up AirPlay capabilities in your studio.

They gave a demonstration of Yamaha Visual Performer. This allows you to create multimedia experiences in conjunction with a connected MIDI enabled instrument. When the instrument is played, various artwork or other visual elements are created on the screen according to the selected template. This would be a fun element to add to a recital to give the audience a more multi-dimensional experience.

Shana shared some ideas about how to create your own iPad content. Every iPad has an app called iBooks. It’s a super cool, easy, way to make your own content that can’t be copied. She quickly created an iBook earlier today with added audio files for the demonstration using iBooks Author (only able to be used on a Mac system using Lion Books iOS or later).

2013 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Early Afternoon – Willis Showcase

We had a nice alfresco lunch on the outdoor patio, and now it’s back into the conference hotel for the final showcase.

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Glenda Austin is giving an overview of some of the new Willis publications featuring the works of some of their composers who have been household names for years: John Thompson, Edna Mae Burnam, and William Gillock.

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Classic Piano Repertoire (Intermediate to Advanced) is a compilation of some of Edna Mae Burnam’s most popular pieces of sheet music. The pieces lie well under the fingers, making them accessible to even younger students.

Glenda proceeded to play selections from William Gillock’s piano repertoire collection.

Glenda encouraged attendees that even if they don’t have students ready for these pieces to learn the music themselves for their own enjoyment and pursuit of musical excellence. She played Gillock’s “Fountain in the Rain” in its entirety because she said that out of her “top ten” this might be her number one.

Next she played several lovely pieces from “Romantic Reflections” by Carolyn Setliff, then a few excerpts of her solos “Chop Suey,” then “Flight of Freedom,” inspired by watching webcam filming of a family of eagles.

She briefly highlighted her new series, “Solos for the Sanctuary,” especially designed for church musicians, then concluded the showcase by playing her new piece in the style of Gillock, “Valse Belle.”

2013 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Late Morning – Got Questions?

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This session came recommended to me, so I decided to check out what was going on! Pete Jutras oversaw the panel discussion by teaching legends Scott McBride-Smith, Ingrid Clarfield, and Randall Faber. Various questions were presented to the teachers and they each had a chance to respond.

What do you know now that you wish you had been told when you were younger?
McBride-Smith – Always seek out information. It’s up to you to find the information you need to have.

Clarfied – Take as many psychology courses as you can. You’ll be doing therapy 50% of the time. And enjoy your time to practice while you have it.

Faber – Dig deeply. Instead of just taking what’s given to you, study for yourself. Explore the music more deeply to find out what’s there. Then, feel free to ask; people want to help you. The further along people are in their career field, often the more willing they are to freely share information and advice.

What is the best way to help students learn to play expressively?

Jutras – It’s important for students not to follow a big “laundry list” of markings and symbols, but to really have a sense of the character of the piece. This will drive the technical details. Help them come up with a plan.

Clarfield – Story and imagery is so important, but it must relate to the student. Don’t try to impose your own story on the student. Lyrics can be written to help communicate the musical ideas. It’s also important to relate physically to the moods of the music.

McBride-Smith – Always wondered why teachers don’t do more singing. Singing can help feel more emotion.

Randall Faber suggests that perhaps it’s not so important to feel the emotion as to perceive and express it. The performer shouldn’t be overwhelmed or over-emote.

Scott disagrees and tells students that sincerity always works.

An audience member asks how to bridge the gap between students understanding the emotion vs. feeling it. He shared an example of a Scriabin piece and a student who couldn’t feel the corresponding emotion. Ingrid suggested helping her relate to something sad in her life. The teacher said she was a very happy student. Ingrid suggested that maybe she should learn Haydn. :-)

Randall furthered his point of music being transcendent, so that we need not impose our emotion on the music in order for it to communicate.

What advice do you give students who want to teach?

Clarfield – Do it as long as you’re passionate about doing it. Know what you’re doing. Find a good pedagogy class.

Faber – Be sure to get the students’ name and address so you can send them an apology someday.

Jutras – Think through to the end. What are the qualities you want the student to have 10 years from now? Start teaching those from day one. Never lose sight of the end goal.

Faber – Focus on your advantage as a young teacher. You can relate to the student often on a peer-to-peer basis and develop a good relationship. Make sure the lesson isn’t about yourself. Focusing on your own accolades or career can sabotage your teaching.

Jutras – It’s about what the student is doing when you’re teaching. Don’t talk too much or monopolize the lesson.

Clarfield – Let the student know that you care about them, not just the music,

What is the most important thing that should be focused on in the first years of lessons?

McBride-Smith – Understand the importance of the role of parents. The beginning teacher that a student studies with is the most important. This should be explained to the parents so that they are completely on board.

Clarfield – Beautiful tone. Whether they are playing “Hot Cross Buns” or something more difficult, teach them how to play beautifully.

Faber – Help the student listen. Lessons are often visual and kinesthetic without really hearing what they are playing. Open the ears early on so that the student connects with sound.

Jutras – All of these answers underscore the importance of having a good instrument in the early years of lessons.

Randall adds that if a student wants to play on a Casio keyboard, they should find a Casio teacher. :-)

How do you implement the important musical qualities without talking too much and murdering the whole experience?

Jutras – Perhaps demonstrating on the piano is better than using words.

Clarfield – Masterclasses have often done more damage to students. Many masterclass teachers should be shot.

McBride-Smith – Even in a lesson, he advocates for spending at least 65% of the time on playing music, not talking.

Faber – The teacher must guide the reflection of the student. Demonstration and letting the student implement ideas right away.

How and when should one teach a student to memorize?

Clarfield – From the beginning. Even with an 8-measure piece. Don’t wait until the first masterclass. Make it a fun activity to reinforce all four types of memory:
1. physical – do tabletop practice musically with all the same gestures.
2. auditory – play a measure, hear a measure, play a measure, hear a measure, etc.
3. analytical – do pair practicing with sonatas where they have to play a measure/phrase in the A-theme, then the corresponding one in the B-theme.
4. visual – copy and cut up the piece into measures, then have the student try to put it back together in the correct order.

McBride-Smith – The practice of requiring students to play from memory is only about 100 years old. Liszt popularized the practice (after Clara Schumann began doing it) by making it a stunt. Memorizing can be an impediment because the focus becomes seeing if they can make it through the piece without a memory slip rather than focusing on musical expression.

How long do you stay with a piece of music? When do you decide to move on to something new?

Faber – Be aware of student engagement while also factoring in recognition of patterns. There is a point of diminishing returns. If a student has completely lost interest and doesn’t want to do it, then don’t do it. Be willing to admit if something isn’t working. However, if a student is really engaged with the piece and enjoying it, look for ways to use it to help them reach new musical heights.

McBride Smith – Not as nice as Faber. He has three words of advice for students who don’t want to keep working on a piece: Do it anyway.

Clarfield – Work on pieces at different levels – some that will be kept for a long time; others for shorter term. She often says, “put it on the back burner” if a piece can be put to the side for a while and then brought back out later.

Jutras – We can learn a lot from video game makers. There is a small goal that you’re trying to achieve in the next half hour, but then a longer goal (such as beating the game) to which the shorter goal is contributing.

Faber – The problem we often have wen we focus only on competitions or assessments is that the important skills of reading, technique, etc. are neglected. So it’s important to have pieces assigned to address these skills as well as the more advanced pieces requiring much more time and attention.

Clarfield – The assignment in the book should look very different depending on the goals of the piece. For example, there should be specific, detailed instructions about the final tempo, dynamics, and performance tips. For pieces on the “back burner,” the assignments might be more generalized and include practice strategies.

If I want to license an arrangement of a piece of a popular song, how do I do that?

Faber – Find the copyright owner (often a publisher who is splitting the revenue with the original author). Many times the print rights are held by someone other than the copyright holder of the work itself. Arrangements are derivative works of the copyrighted work, so you can’t even copyright your arrangement, supposing that you are even able to secure a license to write the arrangement.

How to best work with transfer students who have had subpar instruction or gaps between their lessons, especially in the case of military families who will soon be moving again?

McBride-Smith – Do the best you possibly can with the time you have.

Jutras – Perhaps you could continue with the student longer via internet lessons.

What are the downsides of not assigning long-term pieces to students that are beyond their reading level?

Clarfield – It depends on the student.

Jutras – It’s always up to the teacher and student to control the pacing of their studies.

Faber – At early levels you want a relatively fast rate of flow. Introducing longer-term repertoire pieces will probably happen at the later levels.

How important is it for students to play on their fingertips rather than with flatter fingers, especially for students who are double-jointed?

Faber – Shared about an injury to his thumb that actually expanded his reach! Many teachers make the mistake of over-curling; the important thing is to release tension and balance the arm weight in the arch of the hand.

Clarfield – So much energy is put into the perfect hand shape. More importantly is the freedom of the forearm so that a beautiful sound can be created.

Do you recommend jumping from method to method or sticking with one?

Faber – [Quickly raising hand and volunteering to answer... :-)] One of the most important elements of becoming a good musician is pattern recognition. Sticking with one method ensures a progressive introduction of patterns and concepts. Jumping from method to method may reduce the value to be gleaned from the approach of one method.

McBride-Smith – Advises his students to write their own method. Many American methods move too slowly. Teachers are their own best judge of what their students need.

What advice would you give to young students and teachers today?

McBride-Smith – Your passion and love of children will carry you over every difficulty you have.

Clarfield – Think of yourself as a student for the rest of your life. Go to conferences, ask questions of us “oldies, but goodies.” There’s not one day of my life that I don’t teach a lesson where I know I did something wrong.

Faber – Be authentic. You have something unique to offer every student. Don’t try to be someone else. You can make a difference with the students in your studio when you are yourself.

Jutras – Never stop learning. Never lose sight of why you went into music. Probably not to count 2 against 3. Every lesson should have some of t

2013 MTNA Conference – Tuesday Morning – Piano Duo Masterclass

The acclaimed Anderson & Roe Piano Duo gave the piano duo masterclass this morning.

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The first duet pair was twin sisters playing Spanish Dances, Op. 12: Moderato by Moszkowski.

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Anderson & Roe commented on the good ensemble between the two girls, then asked if they enjoyed playing the piece. They said it sounded a bit dry and want to work with them to liven the piece up a bit.

The next pair played Suite for Two Pianos, No 1 in F Major, Op. 15 by Arensky

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The 11 and 14-year olds wowed the audience with their superb performance!

Anderson & Roe worked a little bit on creating more lilt to capture a Viennese Waltz effect with more emphasis on the second beat and on “milking” the chromatic melodic motives. To achieve a more “milky” legato, they encouraged overlapping the notes.

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They encouraged the boys to capture the joyful mood of the big chordal section more by playing it as though it is really easy and fun.

For the chromatic ascending and descending runs, they encouraged the pianists to imagine a bee circling around the room with more swelling in and out of the dynamics, eventually exploding in sound as if the bee got right in their face. Also, not to be intimidated by all the notes, but to completely go all out in gesture and sound.

The final duo was another set of twins playing the Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos, K. 448.

The brothers were encouraged to think of themselves as cinematic directors tasked with bringing out the nuances of every scene and highlighting each unique character. Instead of sounding like dry technical exercises, the musicality can be brought out by taking care of every phrase ending and then intentionally introducing the character of the next phrase. Listen to the harmonic progression of the phrase endings to create musical tension and release.

They concluded by advising the students to practice slowly and dissect each phrase to achieve maximum musicality.

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I was excited to snap a quick photo with this amazing piano duo!