Pedagogy Books: The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher

The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher
The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher by Marienne Uszler, Stewart Gordon and Scott McBride Smith is a great book about piano pedagogy. This was one text used in my college pedagogy class. There are so many great ideas and suggestions in this book, that I really need to read it again! 🙂 

Teaching Advanced Students

One chapter that I really enjoyed is the one about Teaching Advanced Students. Teaching advanced students is really an entirely different world than teaching beginners, isn’t it? I would guess that the majority of students that many of us have are beginners or intermediate students (at least that has been my experience!). Many students drop out of lessons before reaching the advanced level. This chapter, written by Scott McBride Smith, is a great one to read if you are a teacher of advanced students.
Practicing What We Teach
Smith says, “It is not possible to teach something that you have not mastered thoroughly through your own training and investigation.”

As piano teachers, and particularly as piano teachers of advanced students learning advanced repertoire, it is imperative that we are able to play the repertoire as well. How can we teach the techniques and musical expression needed to play an advanced piece of repertoire if we have not mastered it ourselves?

This topic came up on our Facebook Page recently, and one of our readers had a great suggestion. Here is what she said:

One thing you mentioned is to ‘learn advanced music’ to be more aware of what’s needed in students’ pieces and to teach more effectively. I agree with your statement completely but take it to the maximum and usually don’t teach a piece that I haven’t pre-tested for my student first. I actually do written analysis of complex pieces and prepare written lesson plans. This was a new habit when I began 39 years ago and it has really helped me be secure in my teaching. Going the extra mile on all pieces just exercises your brain so much that you could eventually teach a new piece in your sleep just from observation…”

Skills of Advanced Piano Study

Scott McBride Smith talks about the different skills needed for intermediate study vs. advanced study. I thought this was a great list to get us thinking about what we need to teach our advanced students.

Intermediate Skills:

  • accurate note learning and rhythm
  • wide-ranging dynamics
  • good tone
  • appropriate balance between the hands and between voices
  • basic projection of form and harmony

Advanced Skills: (“…a higher level of artistry is needed for these challenging works.”)

  • phrasing
  • rubato
  • accent
  • tone color
  • pedal
  • sophisticated practice techniques (lots of slow, super-accurate repetitions, work at different tempos, practice in rhythms and shifting accents, etc.)
  • public performances

So many great books out there, so much to learn! What are some of your favorite pedagogy or music books?

Jennifer Boster

Comments are closed.