By providing a high level of music education for my piano students, I strive to create accomplished musicians who will use their talents, skills, and knowledge to improve the quality of music in their homes, churches, and communities. Piano study should foster a love of music that enriches lives.
I. I believe a well-rounded approach to piano instruction is important. I teach technique, ear-training, sight reading, performance skills, theory, collaborative piano, and composition/improvisation. Whether students are headed toward music study at a university or taking piano lessons for their own enjoyment, they will receive quality instruction in the following areas:
- TECHNIQUE: From the very first lesson, students are taught to play with correct technique, including playing with relaxed shoulders and wrists, rounded hands, and playing on the tips of curved fingers. Students spend about 20% of their daily practice time on technique. Technique, consisting of 5-finger patterns, scales, arpeggios, chords, etudes and other exercises, is practiced with a metronome. Improper technique can lead to poor playing and injuries so it is important that students learn proper technique when they are young.
- SIGHT READING: Young students are taught techniques and skills to become quick and thorough sight readers. Students are assigned quick study pieces each week so they are reading new music every day.
- PERFORMING: Students perform often in performance classes, recitals, festivals, competitions, and evaluations. Solo repertoire is performed from memory. Music for performances is chosen mainly from classical literature, however, students also study jazz and popular style pieces for fun. Mrs. Franz and the student choose performance repertoire together, so the student has some input regarding the music he/she will be practicing and performing. Students learn and practice proper performance techniques such as dressing appropriately for a performance, bowing, adjusting the bench, maintaining concentration, dealing with performance anxiety as well as other performance related skills.
- THEORY: Using the Certificate of Merit and Royal Conservatory programs as a guide, students study music theory and prepare for annual exams. Mrs. Franz also teaches AP Music Theory for advanced students who are interested in taking that AP exam.
- EAR TRAINING: Students vary greatly in natural ability when it comes to ear training. For some it comes so easily that little lesson time is spent doing ear training. For others, more time is spent each week improving listening skills so students can identify intervals, key changes, harmonic progressions, etc.
- COLLABORATIVE PIANO TRAINING: Opportunities are provided for students to perform piano duets, quartets, and concerti with other students, a parent, or the teacher. It is important for all pianists to gain the skills necessary to be good accompanists. From the beginning levels, students are taught how to play and sing as well as accompany vocalists and instrumentalists.
- COMPOSITION AND IMPROVISATION: Summer composition and improvisation assignments allow students to be creative and learn to use the Finale music notation software.
II. I believe raw talent is only one part of learning to play the piano. Although music study may come easier to someone with natural musical ability, there is no substitute for daily practice. Students who succeed are students who have parental support. Parents who attend lessons, assist with daily practice, and encourage every step of the way are more likely to see outstanding results from their child's music study. It is rare for even the most musically gifted students to succeed without constant support and encouragement.
III. I believe the very best encouragement and motivation for a piano student is success. Whether it's a successful recital performance, a successful evaluation, success in a competition, or memorizing a difficult piece, that feeling of achievement helps students know they are progressing and feel like their daily effort is worth the time spent. I want each student to feel success and I strive to find ways to make that happen. When students accomplish something, however small, I compliment and praise their achievements.