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National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Day 1

If the world is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all. Daniel Quinn, The Story Of B

I’m a little frustrated. There’s no shortage of new books to teach from or new programs to organize community schools or fundraise.

There is a shortage of ideas. Ideas are how we transmit our values through culture.

New music schools and new piano competitions or method books won’t change us into a musical culture, except to the extent that they’re powered by compelling ideas.

Right now I’m powered by the idea that every person has something to say musically. And every person can learn a vocabulary of tonal and rhythm patterns similar to the way they learn language.

So many music teachers are trying to teach piano to children who don’t know music. What is the hurry? The recital can wait. The competition can wait. Sing to them. Show them how to move with flow and weight through space and time. Let them learn music.

A child who knows music can easily learn piano if they want. A child who doesn’t know music can’t learn piano even if they want.

Every child can improvise. They don’t have to learn to read music other people wrote. They can if they want to (if they’ve learned a listening and performing vocabulary).

Learning music doesn’t have to be hard. Just because it IS hard (for students or for teachers) doesn’t mean that they’re learning.

If students aren’t presented with music in varied meters and varied tonalities by interested musicians, it’s a safe bet they’re not.

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