I had a great turnout for my three presentations as a “featured clinician” at the Indiana Music Teachers Association conference yesterday at Butler University.
Scaling the Chords
My first session titled Scaling the Chords (shown here as teachers arrive) presented tips on making chords and scales more fun to practice and, more importantly, how to use these basics as a springboard to creativity. A highlight of this session is when I ask for a teacher who can self-describe as “inexperienced with improvisation” to come up on stage so I can lead them into an improvisation at the piano in a safe and comfortable way in front of their colleagues. Many thanks to the enthusiastic unnamed volunteer (I regret that lost the business card she gave me). This is really important because when I demonstrate improvisation concepts myself, some may think, “Well of course you can do it. You are one those gifted [I’m not, I just work at it] few who can do that.” By having a purely classically trained pianist on the bench, it makes it clear that everyone can improvise, that it’s not all that difficult or mysterious.
That’s Jazz Showcase
My next session was a showcase of my That’s Jazz piano method series. When I asked teachers how many of them already had my books, quite a few raised their hands, which, of course, felt great. While some showcases are really just a big commercial for a book series, I take a different approach by showing teachers page-by-page how to teach from these books. I heard from more than one participant that my books were sitting on their shelves rather than their music stands and that my teaching tips had now given them the confidence and know-how to put them to use. So here’s a reminder for all teachers of my books that free videos of my teaching tips can be viewed here.
Going Further with Lead Sheets
My last presentation was a hands-on session in the keyboard lab. I took this picture when I thought we were ready to start and then something amazing happened. Twelve more teachers showed up a tad late to learn about Going Further with Lead Sheets. So we crammed two-to-a-piano-bench in a hot, windowless room and worked through variations of nursery rhymes and folk songs which we duded-up with stock left-hand accompaniment styles and right hand melodic variations.
- More and more music teachers are wising up to the wide world of playing music beyond the written page.
- Teachers need help getting started on using my That’s Jazz books. Once I show them how, they feel empowered and ready to go.
- Teachers want more information about teaching chord-based piano styles to adult hobby pianists and they are willing to suffer (the lab really was sweltering and tight) in order to do it.
Until next time, enjoy your creative music-making journey,
Help your students have a jazzy Christmas this year: