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The Fall Recital

Something Different This Year

· Practical Pedagogy

CMM has been open for almost 10 years, and our success has largely been built on our numerous and varied performance opportunities with our ability to teach classical and popular piano styles at a high level. So...why change things? Have you seen how quickly things change? That's why. I need to be planning for what our faculty and students want in 5 years, not what they wanted yesterday.

Important Question: How can we keep the momentum of the school going, and provide the same high quality teaching and performances, but with a new twist that is engaging? It's important to me that CMM is being challenged in a creative way, so that we don't simply just turn a page. It's also quite a bit more work, and I have been tired this year. I actually think it's another way to say I'm bored. If we don't push forward, the "same old thing" leads to stagnation not only for the teacher, but the student as well.

Value. If i'm not having fun, then I don't want to be a part of it. As I was sitting at our Pop Showcases this past spring, I was bored. Normally it's my favorite event of the year. Music comes to life for the kids and the parents think it's the coolest thing. There was nothing wrong with it. The kids were doing well, the musicians knew what was happening, the chord charts the kids have been writing have been improving, etc...again, nothing was wrong, but it was boring. If I'm bored, then I know others are, and we need to make a change, which led me to make make adjustments to our existing performance formats.

Faculty. It's important to me that I don't overwhelm our faculty. Most of the teachers are truly artistic, phenomenal teachers that engage and lead their students at CMM well. Some are still masters or doctoral students, some have big part-time jobs, and some drive an hour just to get to CMM. I value their time, expertise, experience and want to give them the freedom to do what they do, and do it well. So...how can I honor and respect my faculty while still pushing the bar forward?

Improv and Art. Enter the wide open themed fall recital! Basically, make music come to life with your own creative spin. The location is The Gallery 8680, which is also a church, and has a nice sound system, high quality Clavinova, stage, A/V and beautiful small, local space to feature here in Frisco. Here are some of the ways I hope to hear new takes on old/new music.

  • Students create their own intro or ending to their piece
  • Students write lyrics to music that doesn't have any, OR change the existing lyrics. As an example, one of my students changed the lyrics to Believer and learned the piano part on YouTube/by ear
  • Students are encouraged to play with a track (pre-existing or make their own)
  • Students can create a piece of art to go along with their piece (preferably art that is really attractive and done on canvas, or larger that can be placed on an easel...or projected on a screen) 
  • Ensembles! As an example, one of my students is playing a Lebanese pop tune with her sister, and she arranged the guitar part for her. Their dad will be joining them on a traditional Lebanese instrument
  • A Student Duet or Ensemble - As an example, I have two students playing Prayer for Peace by local composer, David Karp
  • Students can play and sing a song.
  • Play a Disney song and have your student dress in character!

The purpose is to get the creative juices flowing of BOTH teacher and student and have our most creative performances as a whole school, to date. This pushes us teachers to get off the page, raise the creativity standard and make it a memorable experience for everyone.

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