Continuing my theme of great online training opportunities for piano teachers, I recently found out about another interesting free Coursera Course: Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas by American performer and teacher Jonathan Biss.
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This course takes an inside-out look at the 32 piano sonatas from the point of view of a performer. Each lecture will focus on one sonata and an aspect of Beethoven’s music exemplified by it. (These might include: the relationship between Beethoven the pianist and Beethoven the composer; the critical role improvisation plays in his highly structured music; his mixing of extremely refined music with rougher elements; and the often surprising ways in which the events of his life influenced his compositional process and the character of the music he was writing.) The course will feature some analysis and historical background, but its perspective is that of a player, not a musicologist. Its main aim is to explore and demystify the work of the performer, even while embracing the eternal mystery of Beethoven’s music itself.
This is an “on-demand” course meaning that you can start it whenever you like and watch it at your own pace (a bit like PianoFlix!). The course involves 5 hours of videos with quizzes, so this could be a great project to allocate just one hour of your week to over the next 5 weeks. Perhaps a relaxed Sunday afternoon?
While I’m yet to take the course myself, I’ll be looking at starting it in the next week even though I only teach a few advanced students learning the Sonatas. I feel that the Beethoven Sonatas were such lighthouses in the classical Piano literature, that knowing more about them will only help my interpretation and teaching of other pieces and styles.
Remember, it’s all totally 100% free. It would be perfect for students who are playing the sonatas, students and teachers completing pedagogy training at university level and qualified teachers wanting to expand their repertoire knowledge.
Even better, you can count this towards any PD hours required by your teacher registration.