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Shirley S Kirsten

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Blogs by Shirley S Kirsten

Realizing the full potential of piano students
8/9/2009 4:14:34 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

A basic teaching philosophy that is all embracing and non-judgmental

Every student who enters the piano learning sanctuary has some form of untapped potential that is awaiting full expression.

This is the premise I start with when I first meet a new pupil. Whether he/she is a transfer student, a brand new beginner of age 7 or 70, or an advanced, seasoned player, I'm always thinking about what's on the horizon for each one; how can I take what they bring to me and develop it further in a nurturing, nonjudgmental way.

I admit that sometimes it's a tricky road when students come from another studio and have a comfort level with the prior teacher's approach and the materials they have been assigned, but even if the newness of the environment might be initially unsettling, the musical adventure that awaits each one becomes the positive focus of the here and now.

I always remind myself that I am a participant in a collective journey with my students, which means that my own potential as a teacher is stretched and developed along the way. In fact there have been days of significant awakening when a student teaches me something quite unique by asking a probing question about the music, a phrase, or section of it. He might have stumbled upon a concept quite by accident, on his own, that enlarges my perspective.

Listening to a student craft a phrase in a particular way can also leave an indelible impression. It can suggest a path of interpretation that I had not considered before.

Whatever is brought to the table of learning is worth sampling by the teacher and student alike, without the intrusion of value judgments.

Embracing the moment, thoughtfully layering the acquisition of skills and making sure the rhythm of lessons is in keeping with the beat of each student, is the basis of my teaching philosophy. It is meant to enrich the learning environment and release infinite forms of creative expression. Above all, the heart, mind, body connection frames all lessons and brings music spiritually to life beyond the printed notes on a page.

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More Blogs by Shirley S Kirsten
•  Realizing the full potential of piano students - Sunday, August 09, 2009  
• Thoughts on piano method books and other teaching materials - Saturday, August 01, 2009

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