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, performing, theory, ensemble and accompaniment techniques, and occasionally 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 these seven areas.
- TECHNIQUE: Improper technique leads to poor playing and injuries. 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.
- SIGHT READING: Through sight reading books and method books (quick study pieces), students at the elementary levels learn and improve note reading.
- 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 pop songs 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, as well as other performance related issues.
- THEORY: Using the Certificate of Merit program as a guide, my students study theory and prepare for the annual CM theory exams. Students use the Keith Snell and Julie Johnson theory books.
- 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. Students prepare for the ear-training portion of exams by working in the 4-Star Sight Reading and Ear Training books.
- ENSEMBLE AND ACCOMPANIMENT TRAINING: Opportunities are provided for students to perform piano duets, quartets, and concerti with other students, a parent, or the teacher. Pianists must learn how to accompany as is an important part of piano instruction. From the beginning levels, students are taught how to accompany themselves singing, other vocalists, and instrumentalists.
- COMPOSITION AND IMPROVISATION: We have occasional summer composition and improvisation assignments. Students use Finale music notation software to type their compositions.
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 Certificate of Merit 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.