Note: this video is not an example of a regular weekly piano lesson. Those generally include only 1-3 students at a time. We have these larger gatherings roughly once a quarter. Click through to view on YouTube for commentary in the video description and comments.
Some of these performances are not what I would call “finished,” and that’s the point. In the traditional instrument studio, the goal is often to prepare a piece or two for a recital, after which students are truly finished with those pieces.
In that scenario, nothing has been learned that is easily transferable to the larger community outside of the music studio. Consequently, music in the culture is not nurtured. When music in the culture isn’t nurtured, individuals’ success within the music studio is less meaningful.
In contrast, the approach taken here is one that gives students a vocabulary for working together. Skills and experience gained are easily carried into students’ peer groups. Music spreads outward through the culture rather than collapsing inward as students get bored with it by their teenage years.
This is the best approach I’ve found in which no interested child is left behind. Many of the kids in this video would not be well served with a more traditional approach. Students of varying ages and abilities can work together in ways that are affirming, creating truly interesting and unexpected music in the process.
This group approach may appear chaotic but it’s based in the sophisticated research of Music Learning Theory. Students so trained will have richer musical understanding. They will be improvisers, performers, and readers. They will never be “finished” with their pieces but instead will have the foundations for a lifetime of musical understanding and enjoyment.
What you will find in this video:
Students with the versatility to collaborate with others in on-the-spot play
Beautiful tone and relaxed hands even in very young students
Students unafraid to compose and improvise
Students moving around the room
What you will not find in this video:
Students who need books to play from
Playing technique with excess tension and timid sound
Students afraid or unwilling to share their music with others
Tension resulting from kids having to be still and quiet in a formal recital setting
Music Moves for Piano materials were used extensively in preparations for this class. Visit musicmovesforpiano.com for a wealth of information about how Music Learning Theory can be applied to piano.
Special thanks to Sheila Paige for ideas on piano technique. Visit keyboardwellnessseminar.com.