August 8, 2010.
When I was in undergraduate study, I took a course called ” Piano Performance and Pedagogy”, but I believe it was more about playing than teaching.
Before I went to graduate school, I did not think much about piano teaching. It seemed in Hong Kong anyone who knew how to play a bit of piano could teach (still valid to certain extent nowadays, only now “upgraded” from grade 8 qualification to diploma levels). And I was of no exception: I was made by my dear Mother to teach at some random piano shop located in a public housing estate for a year or so at the age of 17 or 18 (attending music school, with the “qualification” of dipABRSM (then “Advanced Certificate”) until I could not stand teaching in the tiny little cramped piano room anymore and thus made an excuse to stop teaching there. That was the weird beginning of my piano teaching “career”.
Back to the topic of “Piano Pedagogy”. I took an one-year course in this subject when I attended graduate school in the States. We as master degree students majoring in piano performance were required to take this course. It completely changed my idea of piano teaching from then onwards.
Our teacher, Dr. Karen Taylor (Assistant Professor of Music (Piano), Director, Pre-College Piano, Indiana University), was (and still is) a great piano pedagogue. She was enthusiastic about the whole teaching piano matter (unlike most teachers I found in dear old Hong Kong). She was a piano teacher who also taught us to become well-informed piano teachers. We had so much readings and assignments every week. We had to go observe Taylor’s teaching as well as other master teachers’ at our school, and write reports about them. We were each assigned to have one kid student volunteered to be our guinea pig. We taught the student weekly, wrote detailed reports about his/her progress. Taylor sometimes would come observe our teaching and she would discuss with us after lessons about what we did well and what we could have done better next time. I never knew piano teaching was such an expertise on itself. There were so many different methodologies, techniques (not only on playing but also teaching), and much planning involved even for one single lesson. I had so much to learn and thus was benefited from such course.
Anyone who is interested in understanding more about piano pedagogy must read “The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher” by Marienne Uszler, Stewart Gordon and Scott McBride-Smith. It is a textbook for our piano pedagogy course and a bible for piano teachers.