Dear IMTA Members,
I am always thinking of ways to guide my students to learn music musically. How can I assist them to develop practicing habits for a musical performance? What is the very first practicing habit my students need to learn to make music musical? Is it posture, hand position, rhythmic stability, note and finger accuracy, pattern recognition, phrasing, or musical analysis? What are the other important practicing habits that need to become second nature during my students’ practicing?
As a young pianist prior to college, my practicing habit was to learn notes, rhythms and fingerings. As soon as those were established I went on to “making music.” Upon entering college, my piano professor told me to make music the first time I looked at a piece of music. I thought he was kidding – I always learn notes, rhythms and fingerings before I make music. Lesson by lesson, he guided me to study and hear a score before touching the piano – to analyze a score musically and theoretically. He taught me to ask questions of the score. What is the meter at the beginning, the middle and the end, what are the large parts, where are the repetitions, the variations and the contrasts, where is the climax, what moods are conveyed, and is this phrase a question or an answer? From there he encouraged me to carefully practice the score by including accurate readings of the notes, rhythms and fingerings, while making beautiful phrase shapes, interesting colors, rhythmic and metric vitality, and architectural sense of the piece.
Which musical practicing habits do you want your students to build? Do you have a strategy to help your students establish these musical practice habits? I encourage you to think through your ideas of musical practicing habits and then develop creative strategies for your students to build these habits.
As you prepare for the upcoming 2010-2011 academic year, consider entering your students in one or more of IMTA’s Student Events: Keyboard Ensemble Concert, AIM Syllabus Evaluation and Festival, Opus Composition Festival, and Hoosier Auditions.
The Keyboard Ensemble Concert repertoire is posted on our website www.indmta.org, under the Student Activities heading. Students enjoy participating because it is such a unique experience for them to work with a conductor and other musicians. Contact Cheryl Everett, Keyboard Ensemble Concert Chair, email@example.com for more information.
The AIM Syllabus Evaluation and Festival includes performance and musicianship events – technical study, sight playing, keyboard skills and written and aural theory – within twelve sequenced levels. There are seven AIM Festival Sites around the state of Indiana. Contact Douglas Sperry, AIM Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, to purchase a copy of the syllabus and to receive more information.
The Opus Composition Festival provides an opportunity for your students to experience the creation of new music and receive an evaluation of their composition. See our website www.indmta.org under Student Activities for more information or contact LeAnna Wilson, Opus Chair, email@example.com.
The Hoosier Auditions provide a competition experience and written evaluation for students and encompasses two rounds – District and State. See our website www.indmta.org under Student Activities for guidelines and performance rules or contact Kate Boyd, Hoosier Auditions Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also consider attending the IMTA Conference, October 8-9, 2010, to be held at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, and the MTNA Conference, March 26-30, 2011, to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. These two conferences will provide new pedagogy ideas, interesting music and wonderful camaraderie with other music teachers.
The IMT Newsletter will be going online with the next issue and an email notification will be sent to all members. Please go to our website www.indmta.org, under the heading Professional Activities and click on Newsletter to view the next issue. If you do not have access to the internet, please contact Becky Baker, Vice President of Membership, (317) 432-2029.
In closing, please view a wonderful film produced by the BBC titled, “imagine … being a concert pianist,” which tells the story of a 11-year old boy’s journey to become a concert pianist. You can view it on YouTube in nine parts at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiMY2HtxPPI&feature=related.