Continuing education for piano teachers - Should you do it?

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:19 am

Many professionals (e.g. physicians and lawyers) must take formal continuing education courses to stay current with their fields and maintain thier licenses to practice. Scientists must do their own continuing education (reading the scientific literature, at a minimum) to stay active in their fields. However, I don't know of any similar requirements for piano teachers (please correct me if I'm wrong on that!). Yet, piano teaching methods and materials do change over time. Should piano teachers be required to undergo some form of continunig education, either as a formal requirement administered by some organization or as an informal requirement, much as scientists must stay up on the scientfic literature? What to you do to maintain your knowledge and skills? Is such constant updating of knowledge necessary for piano? We have commented on this a little elsewhere on the site, but I hope that a discussion of this topic will prove valuable and, even, motivating. :cool:
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:22 pm

Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)
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Postby pianoannie » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:29 pm

Currently, it would be impossible to have any requirement for continuing education, as there are no requirements for teaching piano at all. Some teachers would like to see some kind of licensing or certification, although most teachers I've discussed it with prefer to keep things the way they are.

Personally I love continuing education. Actually, the single most helpful thing I do is visit various internet sites (including this one :D )where teachers ask questions and share suggestions. Of course, this type of con/ed would be hard to document or to satisfy any con/ed requirements. But it's amazing to me how much can be gleaned when piano teachers from around the world share freely!

I love reading teaching magazines, especially Keyboard Companion. I attend workshops for teachers whenever my schedule allows, as well as meetings of our local piano teachers association. I re-read textbooks and order new books from time to time. I tend to order copies of new method books when they come out, knowing that I will learn something new just by studying the sequencing, the explanations, and especially the teachers manual if there is one.

So yeah, I guess I'm kind of a con/ed junkie!
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:43 pm

I do re read old texts often and purchase old books on line at Amazon when I see or get ideas from students. "Women in Music" was a recent buy when a student asked me whay all the composers I had pictures and stories of were men! "Antique Musical Instruments" is another when after going over some music history, a student asked about more pictues of old instruments. Also copy off information on the internet and PEP...recently had another question about the early organ.

I browse the music store - too often - and check out new books also.

As indicated in another thread today, I do not think a piece of paper makes a teacher.
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Postby Beckywy » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:18 pm

As indicated in another thread today, I do not think a piece of paper makes a teacher


Maybe not, but training in piano pedagogy would help.

Currently, it would be impossible to have any requirement for continuing education, as there are no requirements for teaching piano at all. Some teachers would like to see some kind of licensing or certification, although most teachers I've discussed it with prefer to keep things the way they are.


The RCM has the Piano Teacher's Diploma. It is a requirement for musicians to join the music teacher's association here. I think that if teachers are against a form of certification or licensing - they are not really interested in bettering themselves for the benefit of their students. Teachers in schools are certified and must recertify themselves every few years. We as piano teachers should learn more of piano pedagogy, different ways to teach, to interact with our students. We are as a collective trying to make the general public see us as professionals - as we should be ...

Those of us who charge as much as the plumber shouldn't have to compare ourselves to the teacher down the street who charges the same amount as a teenager does for babysitting services.




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Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:29 am

From what I've heard of the RCM program and similar programs, I'm impressed in that it sounds like more students reach higher levels of skill compared to those in the U.S. taking from teachers without any sort of "formal" program. In the U. S., without a specified program for private piano teachers and students to follow, more students wind up floating around on the same skill level too long, not progressing, not putting forth the effort in practice, and quitting after 2 or 3 years. I think a program such as RCM here would motivate students to reach higher levels of performance and help teachers keep students on track. I have heard a few complaints from teachers using similar programs about such programs causing students to sort of "work around the system" and only learn what's necessary to pass or required and not interested in learning anything 'extra' that's not required in the program. But I think the advantages would outweigh that still because I don't see as many students here reaching as high of levels of performance as I hear about from students in such programs.

As far as piano pedagogy courses or programs, the local university here didn't offer a pedagogy course when I went. The choices for a pianist were degrees in performance, composition (which was my interest but I was "steered away" from it by the composition prof., which I think was a wise choice not to go that route at that point in my life anyway - or I'd probably still be there trying to finish!), then education, or a B. A. in music. The main differences between the B.A. coursework and the performance coursework was that the performance degree required more ensemble participation, recitals to be given, a few more courses in theory and analysis, and requirement of what their version of level 8 in performance vs. level 6 for a B.A. (Keep in mind that their version of a level 1 was about the same as a private teacher might consider a level 6 or so in a mainstream method book).
One advantage I think the B.A. gave me though, was a ton of general history classes, which I could tie into the music history and see how it all relates, and a ton of writing in those classes so I learned to become a better writer.

Anyway, the university in the last few years has added a piano pedagogy course. The reason I went to college in music was 2-fold: to enable me to become more qualified/skilled for private piano teaching and to learn more about theory and composing. If there would have been a piano pedagogy emphasis when I went, I would have most likely gone with that program. My question is:

What can one expect to learn from a piano pedagogy program? What kind of courses does it include and what exactly does one learn or do in those courses?


For me currently, I think the best way I could make improvements that would aid me to be a better teacher would be to take private lessons from a more highly skilled teacher myself especially in the area of improving my own technique so I could pass that on to my students. This combined with the possibility of that same person being a sort of private mentor would help me the most.




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:06 am

loveapiano wrote:Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)

You might be interested to learn that PEP is widely used in college and university piano pedagogy programs all over the world as a supplement to the curriculum! We're honored that that they, and you, value PEP to that extent. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:28 am

Stretto wrote:From what I've heard of the RCM program and similar programs, I'm impressed in that it sounds like more students reach higher levels of skill compared to those in the U.S. taking from teachers without any sort of "formal" program. In the U. S., without a specified program for private piano teachers and students to follow, more students wind up floating around on the same skill level too long, not progressing, not putting forth the effort in practice, and quitting after 2 or 3 years. I think a program such as RCM here would motivate students to reach higher levels of performance and help teachers keep students on track.


What can one expect to learn from a piano pedagogy program? What kind of courses does it include and what exactly does one learn or do in those courses?


For me currently, I think the best way I could make improvements that would aid me to be a better teacher would be to take private lessons from a more highly skilled teacher myself especially in the area of improving my own technique so I could pass that on to my students. This combined with the possibility of that same person being a sort of private mentor would help me the most.

There IS a program in the U.S., recently started, which attempts to bring the standards and approach of the RCM program to the American piano teaching community. It's called the Royal American Conservatory Examinations (RACE). It's president is Scott McBride Smith, one of our A/E Interviewees. You can find out more about the RACE program by reading the Smith A/E Interview and following the links in it.

Dr. Leland is, by far, the best qualified, by knowledge and experience, to tell you about what comprises a piano pedagogy program, so I'll leave the answer to that question in his hands. Though it's highly desirable, I don't think it is necessary to have a college degree to teach piano. However, if the teacher doesn't have college training, then it is incumbent upon her to train herself with some basic piano pedagogy texts (and to learn from more experienced teachers). You can find a limited list of some of these in our article, Establishing a Private Teaching Studio. The fact that I started this thread is an indicator that I feel very strongly that every professional these days, no matter what their field, must adopt a process of life-long learning as a part of being a professional - or risk becoming irrelevant or, even, unqualified.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby pianoannie » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:38 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
loveapiano wrote:Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)

You might be interested to learn that PEP is widely used in college and university piano pedagogy programs all over the world as a supplement to the curriculum! We're honored that that they, and you, value PEP to that extent. :)

That is really cool Dr Z!!!
:cool:
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Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:38 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
loveapiano wrote:Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)

You might be interested to learn that PEP is widely used in college and university piano pedagogy programs all over the world as a supplement to the curriculum! We're honored that that they, and you, value PEP to that extent. :)

Yes, that's great! I better get to reading more. And it's free reading too and with no exams!

What would be the requirements if there was such a thing as a PEP Certification?

1. Read a minimum of 90% of the articles on PEP and pass a quarterly exam.

2. At least twice a year, contribute one article, interview, review or similiar as laid out in PEP's article, "How You Can Help on the Piano Education Page."

3. Participate regularly on PEP's Message Board by starting new topics and replying to other posters.

:)




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:05 am

Stretto wrote:
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
loveapiano wrote:Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)

You might be interested to learn that PEP is widely used in college and university piano pedagogy programs all over the world as a supplement to the curriculum! We're honored that that they, and you, value PEP to that extent. :)

Yes, that's great! I better get to reading more. And it's free reading too and with no exams!

What would be the requirements if there was such a thing as a PEP Certification?

1. Read a minimum of 90% of the articles on PEP and pass a quarterly exam.

Most people might think it would be easier to take a pedagogy course than read 90% of PEP's 900 pages! :laugh:
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:45 am

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Music Teachers National Association (www.mtna.org). They have a Certification program that requires formal instruction and an exam, I believe. I don't know that it's as rigorous as Canada, but this, plus the many workshops and lectures available at state and national conventions, are part of an ongoing effort to improve the knowledge and capabilities of private teachers.

Dr. Bill.
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Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:16 pm

Dr. Bill Leland wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Music Teachers National Association (www.mtna.org). They have a Certification program that requires formal instruction and an exam, I believe. I don't know that it's as rigorous as Canada, but this, plus the many workshops and lectures available at state and national conventions, are part of an ongoing effort to improve the knowledge and capabilities of private teachers.

Dr. Bill.

I'm planning on joining this year. I've meant to join for several years but have a long string of excuses why I haven't before now: One was finding the right contact person. The listing of organizations at the library had an outdated contact person locally and when I called, the person was very elderly and thought they were still in charge of it! They took my name down but probably didn't remember talking to me later that day. The internet, which I just got last year makes looking up such things a breeze! One can even print the application form right off the website. After the initial contact person fell through, I never got around to checking further on it for a while. I printed the application, now if I can just get around to sending it off . . . :D .

I did notice on the website for the Missouri Music Teacher's Assoc., there was a listing of teachers and those with the certification Dr. Leland is referring to had a special asterisk or something by their contact info. indicating such. So someone looking for a teacher could tell which teacher's had the certification.
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Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:23 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
Stretto wrote:
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
loveapiano wrote:Continue learning through PEP and my students.

:)

You might be interested to learn that PEP is widely used in college and university piano pedagogy programs all over the world as a supplement to the curriculum! We're honored that that they, and you, value PEP to that extent. :)

Yes, that's great! I better get to reading more. And it's free reading too and with no exams!

What would be the requirements if there was such a thing as a PEP Certification?

1. Read a minimum of 90% of the articles on PEP and pass a quarterly exam.

Most people might think it would be easier to take a pedagogy course than read 90% of PEP's 900 pages! :laugh:

:laugh:

I think I would prefer to try reading it! I can't stand the stress and pressure of taking exams! They leave me looking like this: :O !
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:31 pm

OK, Stretto - I'm with you on that program!

How about it Drs. John and Bill?
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