How do you invite 21st-century digital natives into the culture and music of powdered-wig times? You hold a Baroque Bash! I did last year and blogged about it. It never dawned on me that other teachers would follow suit and amplify my ideas into something bigger and much better!
Here’s Hannah Greiner to tell us more about the Baroque Bash she produced with fellow teacher, Susan Hamblin-Dennis.
Make sure to watch the video at the end of the post…there’s something coming soon that will help your studio GO Baroque!
For most piano teachers, their personal experience with piano lessons as a child probably revolved around learning technique (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc.), repertoire, sight reading, and ear training. These lessons would be at a teacher’s studio, and these activities would occur on the piano bench.
In my lessons, a teacher would sometimes offer stickers for playing a piece well. One of my teachers even offered a “treasure chest” with goodies from the dollar store if I earned enough “A’s” on my assignments (this was such a highlight for me!).
Any historical information was generally taught from a textbook or from the teacher explaining the background behind a piece.
As a piano teacher now, there are SO many resources and ideas from creative teachers around the world, and many activities can happen “off-the-bench.”
My colleague, Susan Hamblin-Dennis, had an idea to implement Leila Viss’s “Going Baroque” idea for our piano students.
We loved Leila’s idea of exposing students to what is typically a “boring” era in music. We wanted to find ways to immerse our students in the Baroque environment and make it fresh and relevant to them.
There were several important aspects we wanted our students to experience:
- Learn and polish at least one baroque piece
- Perform the polished piece on an actual harpsichord
- Begin improvising on a chord progression
- Actively listen to examples of Baroque music
- Learn about the lives of Baroque masters J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel
- Learn about how the music and art relate.
To accomplish these ideas, we created a booklet with a collection of eleven activities, and each completed activity earned a sticker/stamp. Sample activities in the booklet included
- Listening to music by J.S. Bach, A. Vivaldi, and G.F. Handel,
- Attending a harpsichord masterclass where they played on a real harpsichord, attending a Baroque music concert
- Participating in a Baroque dance workshop
- Analyzing Baroque art.
One of the parents enjoyed the Baroque theme so much, she took it upon herself to research the type of food likely eaten in Europe during the Baroque era, and created her own presentation!
We capped off the activities with a finale “Baroque Bash,” where students played their pieces for each other, enjoyed snacks, received prizes and certificates of completion, and “Mr. Bach” even made a personal visit!
By “Going Baroque,” students experienced the Baroque era in an exciting and personal way, and discovered a new interest in Baroque music!
Here’s a testimonial from a parent:
I’ve been thinking back on the wonderful “Baroque Sunday” you arranged for music students and their families this weekend. It took some courage and effort to pull this together, and I wanted to say a big thank-you.
There was a coincidence with my son Haddie– on Friday Dec. 11 he wrote the RCM History 2 exam. As you know, a big part of the syllabus has to do with Baroque music. So, the talk by the Elixir people at St. Barnabas was an amazing way to reinforce what he learned.
-Cheers, V. Barclay
We were lucky to have a clinician who was also a dancer and piano teacher! She dressed up in costume, and danced to pieces played on the piano by students.
Later, we learned the basic steps to the Baroque minuet.
Thank you Hannah and Susan for sharing your story and photos! Most importantly, congratulations on successfully selling Baroque music not only to your students but, the parents of your students on this idea.
This segues nicely into my announcement that I JUST finished a resource called “Go Baroque” that will help you take your students “Bach” to the Baroque.
Stay in touch,