Welcome back to the full Fall semester which starts today and last to mid December.  It is very short compared to the Spring semester, only 16 potential weeks compared to 22 in Spring.  So we have lots to work on, preparing for the December Soiree which will be 12/10/17 at Croasdaile Auditorium.  

Jut a reminder – September fees are due now.  I want to say again how grateful I am to be able to work in my own home and have wonderful students come here and allow me share my skills and knowledge, accumulated, as you know, over many years.  The students often ask me (the young ones) how long I have played the piano – the answer is 65 years!  I started piano when I was 7 (see if they can do the math!).  Thank you all my students now and past who enable me to earn my living doing something I love.

I am in the process of revising my blog and adding two more pages (when my tech support – Carol – has time).  One will be for creative work, my poetry and writing and also my compositions.  Something happened last week and I suddenly felt an imperative to revise my compositions and see if they can be aired somewhere (more to come about this enterprise).  The other will be for videos and photos mainly of my students (with your permission of course).  I have wonderful videos, most recently of the amazing Lucas aged 9 who is auditioning to sing the national anthem at the Ice Hockey game. He has a wonderful voice – he has to be chosen!

I have been thinking about motivation and really it is about setting goals for yourself.  Last week someone set a goal for me and it has really helped me to get going on something I have put aside for years.  They did not really intend to galvanize me quite like this but it has happened!  We all need reasons to strive to do something that is not easy – learn a musical instrument, sing, compose music, write.  In my studio I try to provide suitable goals for everyone according to their disposition and interest.  

The Royal Academy of Music, based in Toronto but operating in the USA as the Music Development Program, says:

“The strongest potential for realizing musical potential is provided by following a path of structured learning… On each step of the musical journey, students should be given benchmarks to measure themselves against”.

These benchmarks have to vary according to the student’s age, ability, and personality.  These are some of the benchmarks I provide:

  • Regular lessons – coming to music each week is a motivator in itself.  I am not very demanding of students because I want everyone to enjoy their lessons but I do give a lot of encouragement, letting students know I am looking forward to them playing certain pieces for me the following week.
  • The twice yearly Soirees where everyone is invited to entertain family and friends and Croasdaile residents with their music. Over the past 10 years students have made remarkable advances from one soiree to the next.  It is so exciting to see this happen.
  • There are seasonal benchmarks too – Halloween, thanksgiving, the holiday in Winter, Easter and more.  I try to include pieces relevant to the season and encourage especially children to play these for parents and friends.
  • Adult students have a Salon every few months and they take that very seriously and prepare well ahead of time.
  • For those students who are naturally ambitious, there are the Royal Conservatory examinations.  These are conducted in America in May at Cary Music School.  Numbers of my students have successfully sat for these exams in the past.  The curriculum is very thorough and the assessments are recognized internationally and at high schools and colleges in America.  I am very familiar with this type of benchmark because we have the same system in Australia. The curriculum is very varied and students have opportunities to present own choice pieces approved by the teacher, as well as the set pieces.  Composers of all types of music from Baroque to Jazz are represented.  It takes a year to prepare fully so I am now starting students on this curriculum who have expressed an interest (or parents have done so). 

So everyone think about your benchmarks!