Monday, February 9, 2009

Last, comma, First

We are getting ready for end of the year exams. Students will be responsible for memorizing repertoire in the four time periods, plus scales, chords, arpeggios, ear training, and sightplaying. Some of my students also add a hymn playing, new age, popular, or jazz element. Every program is as different as the child. We keep a list of quality pieces in the back of their notebooks throughout the year, so it's a matter of deciding details. They can perform as few as 4 but no more than 10 pieces for memory. Often that is the goal. It's as much work for Teacher, but the programs are valuable. There is a balance here-Junior should be a well rounded pianist, while Teach should remain well tempered.

I take a lot of transfer students who have not played any technique in their whole piano life. 7 years of lessons without a scale. It might be like no milk in a child's diet. Let's just give them soda because they like it better. Strong bones and teeth? I don't think so. Strong fingers and agility, not so much. It's astonishing to me sometimes because I always had it as part of my piano life. I believe technique is vital to progress. I've never met a great pianist with bad technique. (I have met poor pianists with great technique, however). When the students study here, we have to catch up sometimes to get their technique to match their music. Sometimes it doesn't ever quite meet.

I am beginning the process of registering students for their end of the year report cards. Their name will come handwritten in a handsome calligraphy, so how they want it to appear is one of my questions to them. Because it's so fancy, many young people (and their parents) want to use their full names. Certificates get hung on bedroom walls and shown at graduations I suspect.

My certificates as a student did not use my full name. There could be many reasons for this. As the teacher, it is a lot of work to ask them all and spell it correctly. My first teacher had over 100 students. This could easily have been a naming nightmare for her! I'm not sure she sent all one hundred to the auditions, but even half and you have a recipe for disaster. Misspellings alone, OY.

The only time I usually ever heard my full name was when I was in trouble. It was sometimes used by my grandparents in love, but most of the time I heard it loudly. You know the tone. And it was followed by "get in here this instant!", or something like that.

Today I asked students how their name should look on the report card. Some asked why I wanted to know. I showed them the cards and many of them chose to use their full names. But one youngster said, "will you ever use it against me?" I laughed my best low, sinister "bwaaa ha ha", and said "Of course, I remember these things. The next time you are mutilating your scales, I'm gonna pull it out!" Smiling she said, "well then, my full name, including my second and third middle name, and my Grandma's names is" and she rattled off a list almost as long as Carla Tortelli from 'Cheers'. (Carla Maria Victoria Angelina Teresa Appolonia Lozupone Tortelli LeBec, if you were wondering. What a great character.) I probably really WON'T forget some of what she said! Hilda Bertha Augusta sort of sticks with you that way.

But she only want first and last on the certificate, with all the initials in between. Good luck at headquarters when they write this one.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, good luck with not only that one but all of them! Somehow basics often get over looked.


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