What pedagogy should be
Welcome to this new website! I’ve been intending to create a website for many years, and it is now finally a reality. Many thanks to Shawn Hancock for his excellent design services and creativity.
I hope that this section of the website will become a place to share and exchange ideas on pedagogy and teaching. Blogging is a new experience for me, so I’ll be learning as I go.
I wanted to start with a thought from the Piano Pedagogy Symposium we hosted at UGA last weekend. Ingrid Clarfield and Scott McBride Smith were outstanding clinicians, and everyone had a fantastic day. Throughout the day there were five live teaching demonstrations, each designed to address real, everyday teaching situations.
What struck me the most was the uncompromising musical demands of Ingrid and Scott. No matter the level of the student or the level of the piece, they demanded that the student play musically and thoughtfully. And they got instant results! All the students responded and showed dramatic improvement.
It is unfortunate, but at times accomplished performers (not all of them by any means) will look down on the field of “pedagogy,” chastising it for dumbing things down and teaching to mediocrity. Ingrid and Scott disproved that notion, showing that you can demand and get musical excellence at all levels. Teaching a student who is in the beginning or early intermediate stages does NOT mean sacrificing artistic integrity.
In the roundtable discussion at the end of the day, Ingrid and Scott commented on the fact that students will rise to the level that is demanded of them. If you only ask for average playing, that is what you will get. If you don’t underestimate your students and demand that they play with excellence, they will do it, as long as you guide them and don’t waver in your demands.
To me, this is what the field of pedagogy is all about, as the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy reminds us: Extraordinary results with every student.