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Musical Contrasts

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Three weeks ago I was in Winnipeg with my husband speaking at the CFMTA (Canadian Federation of Music Teachers National Conference). It was a warm summer day and we had a room full of enthusiastic piano teachers. Dave and I were talking about teaching piano in the 21st century. We had a shock when we discovered between the two of us we have over 100 years of teaching experience! Teaching piano has really changed since we started. From the introduction of digital pianos to iPods and page turning pedals. There is also a great interest in teaching more creativity, teaching more than the notes and music on the page. Teachers showed great interest in adding to the notes on the page with improvisations and learning to teach lead sheets. In the evening we heard some amazing classical concerts at the national piano competition where Jessica Yuma from Alberta (the province where I grew up) took the top prize.

In contrast, last week, we were teaching at the U-JAM jazz camp in Victoria BC. Everyone was jamming off lead sheets and reading notes on the page was secondary to improvising. My classroom had 10 digital keyboards and students ranged from age 11 to, well let's say, somewhere in the 70's! Everyone jammed together trading 4's and trying out improvisations. There were lots of new ideas and great music. The faculty concerts were inspiring with Louise Rose on piano, Joey Smith on bass, Damian Graham on drums and many, many more famous local names. I performed My Funny Valentine at the opening faculty concert :-)

What music experience was best? I like Louise Armstrong's quote " What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is. " As long as you are playing music you love you are playing the best music.

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