TTTV072: Top 7 Most Powerful Creative Piano Teaching Episodes

creative piano teaching

creative piano teaching

So much creative piano teaching innovation has happened this year on, and there’s heaps of exciting things coming up in 2017.

Today on the show I’m giving you a sneak peek into what’s coming up. We’re also taking a walk down memory lane with my top 7 podcast episodes from the past here.

More and more, my focus is on helping teachers with the creative side of piano teaching.These 7 powerful creative piano teaching episodes definitely deserve revisiting. All 7 give you actionable steps for creative piano teaching.

Even if you’ve been listening to my podcast right from the start take a listen back. There’s probably something in them that you missed, or forgot to take action on.


#7 Why Creativity Matters with Dennis Alexander

Quick summary

This is a chat with one of my favourite contemporary composers, Dennis Alexander.

In this episode, Dennis not only plays a few of his favourite pieces, he answers questions such as “What’s the most important thing you feel piano teachers should be teaching students to encourage creativity?”.

Why it made the list

Hearing composers talk about what got them into composing (normally the encouragement and creativity of their first teachers) is always interesting. I would love to think that I’m cultivating the next generation of composers in my studio. But creating composers is not going to happen if we only teach students how to read other people’s music.

Would Bach, Beethoven and Chopin (and any of the other famous composers) be happy to hear that the majority of piano teaching in 2016 still focusses mainly on music reading, performing and interpreting ‘the classics’?

We must remember that, in order to have future generations of composers, we need to be encouraging our students to improvise, create and be curious about music.

How should we do that? Take a listen and find out!

#6 Balancing the Eye and the Ear with Bradley Sowash and Leila Viss

Quick summary

In this podcast, Leila and Bradley dispel many of the myths around creativity.

They discuss what “creativity” actually means, how you can fit it into your lessons and what to do, step by step, to get started. This is the perfect episode to listen to if you want to get fired up about teaching creative skills, and get the tools to get started.

Why it made the list

Bradley and Leila are two of the best creative teachers around. Leila, like many of us, was classically trained and has become more creative through her own professional learning, exploring and practising. This means that she is in a perfect position to guide other classically-trained teachers towards a creative approach because she knows what it’s like.

Bradley has a much more jazz-oriented background and so has the chops to teach and play just about anything in any style but he’s also connected enough with piano teaching to know the pedagogy, know how to teach and how to share his amazing skills.

While a little longer than usual, this episode is full of ideas that you can use in your teaching right away so get a pen and notepad and watch and learn!

#5 Using Orff to Teach Rhythm with Vashti Summervill

Quick summary

In her teaching, Vashti uses so many creative and collaborative activities to teach all sorts of concepts. 

Vashti was generous enough to give us some full teaching demonstrations in this episode. See inside her wonderful Orff inspired studio and get some great ideas for effective and fun rhythm teaching.

Why it made the list

This is has been one of the most popular episodes to date and I think the reason is that 1. Vashti is awesome, inspiring and great fun to be around 2. She opens the door to her entire studio and shows us how Orff can help us get more creative and 3. She even prepared students to be involved in the podcast so she could demonstrate things live.

Make sure you watch the video of this one and check out the massive oversized marimba! You’ll get some great ideas for introducing creative ideas using rhythms created from words and syllables and how the Orff approach could be just what you’re looking for in 2017.

#4 Paul Harris on Simultaneous Learning

Quick summary

Paul Harris is a teacher, composer and innovator. Among his many interesting ideas is the concept of simultaneous learning.

In this podcast we discuss how to start teaching a new piece without even opening the score, and how to split a piece into manageable “ingredients”. He also give some great tips for preparing students to play in foreign keys with more flats/sharps than they’re used to.

Why it made the list

No discussion of contemporary piano teaching would be complete without talking about Paul Harris and his simultaneous learning concept.

While some of you might be thinking: “that’s not really creative“, I think the idea of working with the ingredients of pieces gives teachers the opportunity to be incredibly creative.

In this episode, learn about how you can extract the ingredients of pieces in order to pre-teach the student the skills they’ll need to approach their next piece. And once you have the ingredients, get creative with them – explore them, improvise with them, etc.

This approach will change the way you teach forever.

#3 The Importance of Harmony with Tom Donald

Quick summary

Tom Donald believes that teaching harmony and chord progressions to students gives them the skills to really dissect and approach all new pieces of music. No matter what type of music they want to play.

In this episode we talk about his approach to teaching, and what led him to open his own contemporary school of piano.

Why it made the list

This episode was one of the more recent and featured a teacher after my own heart: Tom Donald from the London Contemporary School of Music.

In this episode we discuss something very close to my heart: harmony and particularly, the importance of teaching students about harmony in a way that’s relevant, approachable and useful in their music studies.

So often, harmony (chords, progressions, cadences) is a study that’s left to dry theory books when, in my opinion, it should be something that students study, discuss and experience in every lesson.

Find out more about harmony and why and how you should teach it in this episode.

#2 Composing, Imagination and Creativity in Young Children with Lyndel Kennedy

Quick summary

Lyndel’s passion for creativity in piano teaching is infectious and inspiring. In this episode we explore her Play-a-story curriculum and what inspired her to create it.

We discussed what inspired Lyndel to create Play a Story, why she doesn’t teach reading for the first 12 months and what being “musical” means to her.

Why it made the list

Lyndel is one of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever met and you only need to listen to her speak for a few minutes to get inspired in your own teaching.

Lyndel has developed an approach to improvisation which features imagery, story and film to encourage creativity in students of all ages and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve come across before. It’s taken her years and years of painstaking work to put together what she now calls the Inner Musician and it’s a program that you can experience in your own teaching.

Find out more about what she’s created and how it works in this inspiring episode.

#1 Student Composition Tactics with Daniel McFarlane

Quick summary

Daniel has created a big niche for himself in the international piano publishing industry in the last five years by creating highly-appealing original music.

Students love his cool style and groovy rhythms so who better to take student composition advice from? His advice is practical, straight-forward and actionable right away.

Why it made the list

This is the first episode I ever recorded and was with my friend Daniel McFarlane, an influential composer and teacher living here in Australia. It’s still one of the most downloaded episodes of all time.

While the production may have been a bit rough in those early days, the content is nothing short of amazing. In this episode, you will take away at least 10-20 fantastic activities you can use with your students which explore creativity through scales, modes and patterns which Daniel knows that kids love.

There is also a free cheat-sheet download which I still use in my teaching today!!

If you really are lost and don’t know where to start, check out this #1 Episode today.

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Did you enjoy this roundup podcast?

I’ve never done a roundup post like this before. What did you think? Would you like more?

Also, if your favourite creative teaching episode wasn’t listed, let me know by leaving a URL and your comment below.

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