Opportunity knocked two times this spring.
The first opportunity that will make a significant impact in my work week is a position I recently accepted at the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music. I’m pleased and honored to be heading up their Piano Preparatory program. I’ll be collaborating with Chee-Hwa Tan, colleague, good friend and brilliant pedagogy professor at the university. I’ll also be working with and mentoring graduate students as we provide group and private lesson instruction to youngsters around the ages of 6-11. I’ll be working in this beautiful building on the lovely DU campus.
How does this change for me benefit you?
First, you’ll be directly impacted by my interactions with Chee-Hwa who is well-known in the world of piano pedagogy. For years, she’s shifted her focus to raise and home school her four children. Last year, she embraced her newly-appointed professorship with a passion. I’m thrilled to be influenced by her wisdom which will surely impact my teaching and will rub off in what I share here at the blog.
Perhaps you know of Chee-Hwa from her published compositions from Frederick Harris?
Check out her blog packed with profound and insightful posts about being a mother, a wife and a teacher. Her posts are golden and not to be missed.
“Do you tend to sit or stand on the same side of the student when teaching? Be sure to walk over and change your viewing side while they are playing. It makes a tremendous difference to our ability to notice imbalance of technique or unhealthy posture. This can prevent injuries and give us solutions to many technical issues. I routinely watch my students play from the right, left, and even the back. It is amazing what you will notice. So, don’t stay fixed on one side!” -Chee-Hwa Tan
Second, as I work with the DU graduate students, it will make me more aware of the hurdles of teaching that I may have forgotten over the years. I’m sure that our interactions while teaching group lessons will develop wonderful ideas that I’ll be excited to share with you.
Third, Chee-Hwa has clued me in on the books she’s using in her pedagogy course. As I’m not one to miss out on a book, I’ve either shook off the dust on some of my favorites and have ordered some others. Here are three excellent books on my summer reading list:
Teaching Piano in Groups by Christopher Fisher
Professional Piano Teaching by Jeanine Jacobsen
The second opportunity is coupled with a bitter-sweet occasion. The minister of music and choir director with whom I’ve worked with over the past 15+ years just retired last week. Serving as his “right hand” has been an honor for which I will always be grateful. Thankfully, his “replacement” is someone who earned my respect the minute I met him. Perhaps you’ve met Drew, too? He was our guest in our 88 Creative Keys webinar, Essentials for Worship Team Pianists. Drew comes equipped to lead a rockin’ contemporary worship band as well as conduct a choir with musicality and authority.
The change in leadership comes with a modification in service times at the church. We’ve cut down the number of services from three to two. The new schedule means that I play every Sunday at the 9:00am traditional service and once a month, I now play at the 10:30m with the worship band. Those Sunday mornings are long as I arrive at 6:30am and leave around noon. However, the exhilaration I experience playing for both far outweighs the sting of the 5:30am alarm. Reading the old hymns at the organ and new chord charts at the piano in one morning tests every playing skill. Ten years ago I would have been frightened by this opportunity and now I say “bring it on!”
How will this experience benefit you? I look forward to sharing what I learn collaborating with Drew in both services. He and I are already brainstorming how the two services and styles can crossover and enhance the worship experience.
Thanks for sharing in my excitement with these new opportunities. I appreciate hearing from you and look forward to the years to come!