by Julie Lovison
Everyone loves to hear the polished pieces performed by students with confidence at the recitals. This is an easy measure of what students have accomplished at the piano. What is not as well known is the depth of comprehensive musicianship students are gaining as they work through the years at LSMS, and the methods by which this is achieved.
We have an ongoing curriculum of study of applied theory and technique. Every week we present new concepts. We rely on students to follow up with daily study and digest this new information and skills to be ready to add a new layer of understanding to the previous concepts and skills the following week. Students take home a weekly practice plan which outlines the expectations for practice in many areas (technique, sight reading practice, theory fundamentals, creative reading and improvisation, transposition, new and review pieces). Students need to spend a small amount of time working in each category every day. The purpose of the check off boxes is to help students keep track of which categories they have completed so they make sure they get to everything every week. Each student must pull his or her own weight to enable the group as a whole to move on.
Parents, you can help students get organized by asking your child to explain the assignments to you and show you how they do them, then checking to make sure they do them. The goal of LSMS is to create independent learners, that is students who know how to ask the correct evaluative questions as they practice to achieve results on their own and make new discoveries unaided by a teacher. This will ensure a personal lifelong relationship with the piano.
The night before the lesson, help your student organize all books and the practice sheet into his/her music bag and put it wherever it will go to make sure it gets to the lesson. Students need their own books for the lesson. We do make important personal notations in the books, and also with several students in a group studying the same book, we would not have enough spare studio copies if several students forget the book on the same day. Another important concept in building success is continuity of attendance. Although our policy does allow students to visit other classes when unable to attend their own, students need to feel that their weekly input into their own group is important. The spirit of cohesiveness that develops with a group is sometimes the one thing that keeps our students happily involved in piano study. Arriving on time is important as well, as the teacher plans the curriculum around a particular agenda, and a student who arrives consistently late will miss a significant aspect of the lesson. However, it is better to come to a portion of the lesson than miss it for the week. Even 20 minutes of contact time will secure a new forward direction of practice for the student.
If you have to come late or leave early, please come anyway. If you forgot your books, come anyway. If you didn’t practice all week, come anyway. If you jammed a finger, broke an arm, sprained an ankle, have drops in your eyes from the eye doctor, come anyway. We can work with all those. However, if you have the flu, it might be best to stay home!