In this final posting on music education I will be talking about the way I teach music. Techniques I have seen inspire young people and that sometimes can work. My philosophy has pieces of all the methods and a bit of Rudolpf Steiner. But it has worked for me.
As Suzuki said we must create beautiful people. This is the ultimate goal of any creative art or experience. Steiner said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” “Piano ability is life ability,” said Haruko Kataoka, the master Suzuki piano teacher. With thesee three things in mind I set out to create my philosophy.
First before there can be any student there must be a literature to play. I use the Suzuki repertoire and other folksongs as a basis for early learning. I stress the importance of listening to the records. Suzuki came to the belief that listening was more important than practising.
Reading later I find works. How can we teach somebody to read when they cannot speak? And how can we teach somebody to read when they cannot love something and love it deeply before they have seen it concretely. Teaching an appreciation, a love of music, is highly important - paramount in the teacher’s eye.
When it comes to reading music I have some specific ideas. The student learns first to play a song then writes it down. They learn to read from there own writing as happens in the Steiner classroom.
Singing is important as though singing something one can develop a sense of tone. I have said to students, “Sing song X. Now, play it as if you were singing it.” It works.
Improvising is also important. I have my students improvise even if they know nothing. As everybody is capable of singing, everybody is capable of making up something at the piano.
In sum the important things to teach are love of music, good tone and good technique whatever means we use to do it.