Melody Bober, a composer whose music is published by Alfred Publishing and others, came to Lincoln to present several workshops and a master class this past weekend. Prior to the day of her visit, Bober gave an interview to Examiner.com about her love for music that can be read here.
How did the workshops go? The teachers were delighted by the warmth and energy that Bober exhibited as she spoke and played for them. On the other side of the equation, Bober was delighted by what she called one of the “top 5 sweetest [teacher] groups I have ever encountered” as she extended her thanks and commendation to the teachers in LMTA for “how smoothly the event unfolded. From the workshops, coffee break, recital, picture time – everything was so well organized and went of without a hitch.”
Bober’s first workship, “Energize Your Studio: Creating lessons that are productive, memorable, and fun,” covered five aspects of the studio and ideas with which to “energize” each aspect. They were:
1. Studio Environment
2. Studio Engagment
3. Studio Entertainment
4. Studio Excitement
5. Studio Excellence
The studio environment could be made warm and inviting with a burning candle, a bulletin board of colorful, music related images, motivational posts, or quizzes, and by pictures of students. Ideas to help students engage included puzzles, games, and books for the students waiting, musical contests, and opportunities to record for students to record themselves on CDs to be given to their parents.
Bober’s ideas for adding excitement to the studio included scrapbooking studio memories and inviting parents of students to contribute photos and even scrapbook pages, studio newsletters, and group lessons including games and learning.
As for creating studio excellence, Bober suggested the teachers at the workshop think back on their educational life and consider the two or three teachers who had the most impact on their life. She pointed out that those teachers who are most memorable are usually so because of certain “teacher characteristics.” Those characteristics being summed up as being always caring, dedicated, and having time for their students’ questions or problems. Bober said that one way she tries to relate to her students personally and show them she cares is by sending birthday cards to them. She suggested that each teacher find a way to show their students that personal interest.
After a break, Bober’s second workshop, “Revitalize Your Recitals,” began. She ran through 15 ideas for recitals.
- Preparation—visually appealing stage, balloons, decorations
- Programs—making these colorful with images or including a student bio
- Introductions—having the teacher or older students introduce each performer as they walk up to the stage
- Add instruments—maracas, wood blocks, tambourines, etc. as a student plays
- Duets/Trios/Quartets—students can have the experience working and performing together
- Costumes—they can dress up with something relating to their piece
- Pictures/Artwork/Story—students can display what image or story their piece brings to mind as they play
- Themed Recitals—have students choose pieces that all relate to a certain theme from the Old West to the Rain Forest...
- Audience Participation—invite them to clap along or sing to certain pieces
- One hand option—there’s repertoire out there to showcase a single hand (even injuries won’t let students out of doing a recital)
- Guest Artists/Collaborative Performances—invite students or their family members who know other instruments to work together on a piece
- Student Compositions—feature a student playing their own composition
- Teach Performance—it’s nice to let your students know that you can play the piano too!
- Letters to students—as they wait to perform, they can open and read a letter with reminders and encouragement.
- Accolades—don’t forget compliments, treats, favors, a nice reception, and pictures to help remember and celebrate the accomplishment of having performed
Bober was full of fun and useful ideas, but she reassured the teachers present that they should not try to overwhelm themselves or their students by following all the ideas. Rather, she encouraged, find the ideas the work for you and begin to incorporate them. She closed with a story from another piano teacher which was a reminder that we learn from our students and their journeys of learning as well.
As much as the teachers and students enjoyed an opportunity to learn from Bober, they’re sure to take her up on her offer: “Just say the word if you ever want me to be part of anything in Lincoln again.”
As usual, LMTA has provided another wonderful day of learning and sharing for Lincoln’s piano teachers.