On Thursday, Nov. 13th, Dr. Susan Avery held a workshop to discuss the uses of a piano in a choral classroom and what kind of "magic" you can create with it. This workshop was especially important to me, because my aspiration is to become a choral teacher, and my primary instrument is piano, so I wanted to learn how to best use my instrument when I am teaching. Dr. Avery is also my mentor for junior student-teaching this semester, so I knew how often she used the word "magic" in mentor meetings with me. A very effective way to keep kids engaged in what you say and do in your classroom is by using different techniques to create an effect that is close to magic.
Dr. Avery gave two primary perspectives: one from the eyes of a collaborator, and one that is probably relatable to a lot of us - being the teacher AND collaborator in your classroom. She explained these in the context of the song "Oye La Musica" by Jay Althouse. It was very interesting to see her teach right from the start with accompaniment. She brought up a good point - that many teachers wait to put in the accompaniment 3 days before the concert, but the accompaniment is an important part of the music that kids should hear in order to continue developing their ears.
Another point that I really took to heart was about physically hurting yourself by using the pedal. Teachers will often stand when using the piano because they usually have an upright piano. So in order to see the kids, they stand, play, and use the pedal. To do that, it's easiest to shift your weight all on one foot and leg. This can cause a lot of problems physically. Dr. Avery showed us that the pedal is not even necessary most of the time -- using finger legato can solve most of it.
Anyways, don't take my word for this amazing workshop -- watch it yourself! We recorded the whole thing in case you missed it. Enjoy!
-Sunhwa Reiner, ACDA President-Elect
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