I had the distinct honor to be asked to present an overview of my student’s community projects at a national piano teacher’s conference in Chicago this summer…NCKP 2019, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.  Actually, I”ve been honored to give presentations for this biennial conference over the past 8 years!  This year my presentation title was

When our Piano Students Inspire Others:
The Socially Conscious Piano Studio

Here is the abstract listed in the program.  And I was asked to develop this theme for an article to be published this Winter 2020 for The Piano Magazine, one of the two most nationally read journals for piano teaching.

“We work best when we reach out and help others. Children, specifically, respond well when they are given an opportunity to work for the greater good of their school, community and environment. Thinking outside of oneself is an important developmental stage for children, an awareness starting at the age students are ready to begin private music lessons. School curricula are built to help students think about ethical and moral behavior. Pair this innate desire to be compassionate with piano study and your students will be inspired to practice and use music to do good things. By playing for charity benefits or with family members who sponsor their practicing, students can help those in need. One year, my students worked with our local Audubon center to foster rescued cold-stunned sea turtles.   Another year we worked with a foundation in Kenya that rescues baby elephants abandoned by ivory poachers. By implementing some of these projects into your studio your students will practice with intention. They will return again and again to the piano as they discover that music speaks of that “which we must not be silent.”*

 

My studio families have all found these to be exciting and worthy goals; parents and relatives often double or triple the amount of pennies that students raise through sponsorships. We typically raise a thousand dollars each year for a specified cause. Matching the cause with a music theme, recitals have more meaning, music selection in the studio becomes increasingly creative and music activities throughout the year are focused. We open the walls of our studio to the outside community, making connections with interested professionals in diverse fields. Also, via Skype, you can have an ongoing studio collaborative with music schools in developing countries, as we do with the Lincoln Center of the Arts in Tirana, Albania. In this session I will share our projects, including musical themes that my students and I might never have otherwise considered, and how our theory and music history lessons can be tied into community-inspired projects. An added bonus: the retention rate in my studio reaches 90 percent.”

*Attributed to Victor Hugo.