Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 38

Music Reading

Independence Day:
Craig Sale, Editor

Music Reading
Boiling it down: Recipes for effective teaching
hen I think back on the great teachers I have encountered in my life, I find that they all had one thing in common—the ability to boil things down to their essence. These teachers’ abilities to reveal the essence of the subject matter made my understanding possible. Perhaps it was an applied teacher communicating the essentials of tone production, a literature teacher explaining the underlying principles of various style periods, or a pedagogy teacher helping me see the true cause of a problem. They were so well versed in the subject they were teaching; they knew what lay at its core, and then communicated those principles. Once I understood this “boiled down” essence I possessed what was needed to continue my further explorations of the subject they were teaching. As teachers, we need to boil things down for our students, and also for ourselves. When we do this we will find that our teaching is more successful, and our students’ learning has greater impact on their lives and future studies. Not only will we communicate more effectively, our diagnostic skills will be greatly enhanced.

Craig Sale, NCTM, is Director of the Preparatory & Community Piano Program at Concordia University Chicago, where he also teaches courses in piano pedagogy. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, and a Professional Teaching Certificate from The New School for Music Study, where he received his pedagogical training from Frances Clark. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

W

What are we teaching?
Music is the thing that brings the student and teacher together. It is shared and experienced in the context of the lesson. My goal as a teacher is to ensure that students learn how to express themselves and experience others through music. In order to do this, they must acquire skills and a fluent understanding of the musical language. I am the person responsible for this. I will need to choose and use printed courses of study. However, I will be the one responsible for their musical literacy, not the books I use. The Music Reading department is continually addressing ways to develop fluent music reading skills in our students. As editor of this department for more than ten years, I have endeavored to include writers whose examples and experiences involve various methods and publications.
38
CLAVIER COMPANION

As Frances Clark once told a colleague of mine, “A good teacher can make any method successful.” In other words, the “how” we teach is more important than the course of study. Learning to read music depends upon the learning of musical concepts and the understanding of how these concepts are represented on the written page. Educational theories show us that concepts are best learned through experience, and that these experiences must come before the actual encounter with the concrete representation in notation. This approach, although essential and undeniably effective, is hard to include in a method book. Two major problems arise because of this. One is the neglect of essential preparation activities for the concepts presented in the materials. Lack of adequate preparation sometimes leads to presentation of the concept before the student is ready. The other result is that we sometimes teach the materials rather than the concepts. For example, we may have presented half notes as notes which have two pulses without first having established an understanding of pulse. When this happens we have taught something which is limited in scope. It is learning which does not apply itself in further explorations. In order to avoid this teaching pitfall, a teacher must first, in her own mind, boil down the materials being taught to see the concept at the core. Once this is discovered and understood, the teacher can then structure the lesson to include appropriate preparation activities which can then lead to a meaningful presentation. Investigation of a few early-level concepts shows how even the most basic concepts presented in the student’s lesson book can be boiled down by the teacher.

A few early-level concepts
The first dynamic symbols presented in a student’s book are usually f and p. Of course, before reaching this point in the materials the student should have already experienced loud and soft sounds; hearing
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012



Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clavier Companion - January/February 2012

Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Contents
Editor's Page: New discoveries
Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Tech Tips
First Looks: What Music Means To Me
New music reviews
CD & DVD reviews
News & Notes
Pupil Saver
Keyboard Kids' Companion
Advertiser Index
Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Clavier Companion - January/February 2012
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Contents
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 2
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Editor's Page: New discoveries
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 5
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Variations: Tackling a twelve-year old's slump
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 7
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Musings: Creative being and the disciplined life
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 9
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 11
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 12
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 13
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 14
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 15
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 16
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 17
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The story of music on board the RMS Titanic
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 19
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 20
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 21
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 22
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 23
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 24
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 25
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 26
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 27
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 28
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 29
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - The enchanted world of piano fairy tales
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 31
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 32
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 33
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 34
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 35
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Jazz & Pop: The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 37
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Music Reading: Recipes for effective teaching
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 39
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 40
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 41
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Perspectives: Coping with burnout
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 43
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 44
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 45
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Technology: Virtual reality in the piano studio
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Tech Tips
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 48
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 49
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - New music reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 51
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 52
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 53
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - CD & DVD reviews
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 55
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - News & Notes
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Pupil Saver
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 58
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 59
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Keyboard Kids' Companion
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 61
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Advertiser Index
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - 63
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Questions & Answers
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover3
Clavier Companion - January/February 2012 - Cover4
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