Have you ever tried to read all the books on the CSMTA Professional Reading Program list? Are you familiar with this great teacher enrichment opportunity? If your answer is “no” to either of these questions, I have some ideas that might help all of us to find the time to get reading!!
Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the Professional Reading Program, known as “PRP.” Each year at CSMTA conference, a teacher who has been appointed by the president becomes chair of this program, and chooses a theme, along with at least three books under this theme that will enrich and inspire us as teachers. Then, at CSMTA Conference each year, there is a workshop where the books are discussed and applications for our studios are highlighted. This year, I have the privilege of choosing the books and writing about this theme in the Notes and News publication of CSMTA.
This year’s theme is “Inviting the Great Composers into Our Studios,” and the list follows at the end of this blog. Also, I have written an article on the first book, “The Great Pianists,” which will be published in Notes and News in October 2016. Just as a teaser, I must tell you that this book has been the catalyst for many conversations with all kinds of people, and it has helped me make more connections than just about anything I have ever read. It is fascinating and reads like a novel.
As I was thinking of a way to involve more teachers in this very accessible teacher enrichment program, I happened to hear about a book club that Arlyce Black, piano teacher from Littleton, has been hosting in her home for several years. And then I thought about the years that I didn’t read very much, and how joining a book club has made all the difference. I doubled the books I read in a year by joining a book club. Because of my own experience with book clubs, and the news about how well Arlyce’s book club has been received, I want to invite you to be a part of our PPMTA Book Club which I will host during this 2016-2017 school year.
Here is the schedule:
Tuesday, October 25th, “The Great Pianists” Tuesday, January 24th, “Clara Schumann” Tuesday, March 7th, “Claude Debussy”
All book clubs will be in my home, at 10:00 am and will conclude by11:15am. I will serve coffee and something simple to go with coffee (of course!), and we will enjoy connecting with each other over these wonderful and enriching books. If there is a big snow, we will reschedule.
To entice you to come to our PPMTA Book Club, here are my top five reasons for putting this on your calendar:
The next step for you is to put the dates on your calendar, and either order the book (the list gives you the cost of each book on Amazon) or check the library for availability. Since our first book to discuss is the longest, if you get it very soon, you can read a chapter a day and be finished in 38 days. If you love music, you will love this book.
If you think you can come, please email me, June@Ewell.com, so that I can prepare for you. I will lead the first discussion, but would like others to volunteer for the next two sessions. See you on October 25th for coffee and enriching conversation!
Well, this picture says it all! It comes from a postcard I happened to find near Spearfish, South Dakota this summer and was the very title for the article I intended to write for the newsletter. I hope you enjoyed some free time and are refreshed for another new season. I am so excited that there was an overwhelming response to the theme of dance music for the PPMTA recital scheduled for November 12, 2016.
The last time PPMTA used the dance as inspiration for a recital was in 2005. Since then, several new members have joined who may appreciate a few suggestions of potential repertoire. Some veteran members might also enjoy a waltz down memory lane as well.
We have stated the obvious in the write-up for the handbook for this recital: “Dance” music includes but is not limited to dances of the Baroque suites; mazurka, polka, polonaise, waltz, tarantella, arabesques, etc in any historical era; or music with fox trot, march, can-can, cha-cha, boogie, rumba, ragtime or tango rhythms, etc. The name of the piece need not refer to the type of dance it represents or its rhythm (examples are The Glass Slipper or I Found a Star, or music from A Chorus Line or 42nd Street). Instrumentalists and singers are welcome to participate in this non-competitive recital. Several song titles I found from the over 225 previous participants had humorous titles. Citing several which tickled me or are some of my all-time favorites are Dancing with Frankenstein (Faber); Sleeping Beauty Waltz (Tchaikovsky); Jamaican Rumba (Benjamin); Love That Boogie (Bober); Hermit Crab Cha-Cha (Olson); Doo-Dad Boogie (Glover); Polonaise in g minor (Bach); and Anitra’s Danz (Grieg). Undoubtedly, the music of Chopin, Beethoven, Rameau, Bartok, Praetorius, Brahms and Burgmuller were very well done.
Fast-forwarding to the June 2016 CSMTA conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Timothy Brown, a very prolific composer and a very nice gentleman. Over coffee one morning, I asked him to go through his catalog and make suggestions of pieces suitable for this recital from his body of work. While the choices of music are vast and are entirely at your discretion for your students, I wanted to share Mr. Brown’s thoughts with you with respect to his compositions. If you want to explore his music for the advanced students, he suggested “Spanish Gypsy Dances” from In Style! Book III. His syncopated Danza Espanol, Andalusian Rhapsody, Aragones, Mardi Gras, and graceful Grand Waltz in Ab Major and Valse Caprice are all suitable for the intermediate student. Starlight Waltz and The Evening Star are his recommendations for the elementary student. His catalog is large and encompasses an intelligent and engaging repertoire that prepares students for successfully approaching the master composers’ works. Graner music has some of these pieces on display and would be happy to assist you with an order.
Carol Jilling has graciously agreed to chair this recital. Please mail checks for entry fees to Linda Densmore, 6670 Sky Hawk Court, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 by 10 PM on October 11, 2016. No late entries will be accepted. Per PPMTA rules, recital entries are accepted through the website and checks need to be received by due date above. Please refer to the PPMTA Handbook for further details.
Let’s Step in Time and find the One piece that inspires…..(almost) Anything Goes!
PPMTA VP Student Activities
CSMTA Student Theory Activity Committee Chai
So, the CSMTA Conference was great! There were 22, count them, 22 teachers from our organization representing PPMTA -- the largest number in attendance from any one MTA in the state. This tells me that teachers in our group are seeking, growing, and learning, and I was proud to be among them.My conference began with composer Timothy Brown's immersion seminar. He was so approachable! We got free music from generous FJH Publishing, and now there's a Timothy Brown music order in my future.:) He even liked my studio Facebook page after the conference; that's going the extra mile!
Another highlight was the Aeolus string quartet concert Thursday night. They also did a master class with students earlier in the day, and some of those students stayed to hear the concert that night. Quite the "circle of learning," as I heard one teacher remark.
PPMTA member Sara McDaniel gave a presentation on using Chopin preludes as etudes. Our member Jodie Jensen, NCTM and CMTA member Karen Greenhalgh, NCTM gave a presentation sharing their journey in developing “Colorado Composes,” a new online composition project (coloradocomposes.org). They are having a teacher workshop on July 22, 2016 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM, check it out! Carol Wilson was part of a delightful organ recital on Saturday.
We had a few students performing during the conference:
Rising Stars Concert – Amy Keisling and Sofie Kirienko (Dee Boatman, teacher)
Master Class – Samuel Holt (Sara McDaniel, teacher)
MTNA Winners Concert – Brenna Pavey (Barbara Taylor, teacher)
VP of Programs, Paul Stephens, was busy mining talent and topics in his quest to find engaging, inspiring, and informative presenters for our 2016-17 program year (thank you Paul:).
Your PPMTA Board will be meeting during the summer to prepare and approve the 2016-17 budget (thank you Donna Caulfield, Treasurer); edit and produce the PPMTA Handbook (thank you Bob Johnson, VP Publicity); finalize festival venues and chairs (thank you VP Student Activities, Linda Densmore); and communicate with new and potential members (thank you VP Membership, Angelia Frame, NCTM).
Truly my favorite part of conference is always the opportunity to chat and connect with fellow teachers, both from PPMTA and from other Colorado organizations, in a way we don't always have time for during our busy year. Everyone was positive, encouraging, and in great spirits. SO fun! Stay tuned to the PPMTA website and Facebook page for all the news you'll need on upcoming monthly programs and student activities.
As 2016 turned open like the first page of a new book, we all knew we were in for a wild ride. Like all good books, we want to be escorted slowly into the story’s adventure and yet we can’t wait for the plot to take off in a world wind of excitement. Well, by now, March is a wild ride of deadlines, regular lessons, future planning and conclusions. March 5 & 6 is our Competitive Historical Era Festival with as many as 118 students and 24 teachers involved. We must use multiple locations throughout the city and bring in judges from around the state to accommodate this event. The beauty of this weekend is not just the achievement of our students, but the ownership and volunteer labor of the PPMTA members.
March 15 is the deadline for both the PPMTA Summer Music Camp Scholarship (details in the February 18th Blog post) – and many summer music festivals. When it comes to understanding the work, passion and discipline of a professional musician, there is nothing like summer music camp for training a students’ mind and their skills. Midway through high school is an excellent time to apply and experience a summer away – even if for a few weeks. There are plenty of options throughout Colorado!
April 16 is Achievement Day! Like a mini test or camp, Achievement Day puts a marker in each students’ musical level. This is also college decision month. May is the end of the school year and family visits. June is the State Convention and July-August is a sparse teaching schedule, fall planning and a vacation if you can get it in. Come late August, the world begins to spin even faster.
As teachers, we live one foot in the “here,” trying to keep our students present as they hone their musical skills, breathe and enjoy what it means to be a kid. We are a life line to creating memories and long held beliefs. We also live with the other foot in the “there” as we try to stay ahead of these deadlines and expectations. PPMTA is here to help cheer you on, support you and catch you when you need to recover. Nothing more…nothing less…a fellowship to be and create our best.
Are you aware that PPMTA is offering a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating senior who plans to pursue a music degree? This is the third year that PPMTA has offered this scholarship program to students of our members. If you have a student interested in applying, he/she must submit an audio or video recording of two (2) contrasting pieces along with a 500 word essay about how PPMTA activities have influenced their music development. Applications are due to the PPMTA president (Susie Marten) no later than March 15, 2016. The winner will be determined by the PPMTA board and will be invited to perform at the PPMTA brunch in May.
Also, PPMTA is once again offering two scholarships to two individual students for the purpose of attending summer music camp this year. As with the above scholarship, this is the third year that PPMTA has offered these summer music camp scholarships. PPMTA will award the cost of the music camp up to $250. To apply for one of these scholarships, students must submit an audio or video recording of two (2) contrasting pieces along with a 500 word essay about the impact of attending summer music camp on their musical development. Applications are due no later than March 15, 2016 to the PPMTA president (Susie Marten). The winners will be determined by the PPMTA board and will be invited to perform at the PPMTA brunch in May.
Please contact Susie Marten with any questions.
I know that September is typically the beginning of a music teacher’s year, but January gives us an opportunity to touch base with the goals we set for ourselves in the fall, some of which we may have lost track of during the first semester (and especially through the holidays). I encourage you to make personal and professional intentions for yourselves, if only to be clear in your mind what your priorities are. This can really help when making decisions about a challenging student or parent, and I think it can give us the ability to “speak our truth” in a difficult situation within our studios and in life in general.
For instance, I had to have a “chat” (you know those “chats?”:) with a student last week. She had been a real achiever in my studio, but for the last year had been spinning her wheels and not really accomplishing much. She had that enviable (but tricky) talent of being a great sight reader, and had begun to mostly play through pieces during her practicing and not really focus and move them forward. She began high school this year, and I know that that can be a plateau time for students as well. I had some challenges last year in my personal life that may have trickled down to my students, and I’m sure that didn’t help. So we chatted. She admitted that she hadn’t been giving as much attention to her piano studies as she had been, though wasn’t really able to verbalize a reason for this. I mentioned a few possibilities and told her to give some thought as to why she wants to continue studying piano. I left the back door wide open by reminding her that she had reached the level where she could quit right now and enjoy playing for the rest of her life, as she does not plan to major in music in college. I asked her to pick one event to participate in – a PPMTA festival, even a private recital for her grandparents. An interesting reminder: When I emailed her mother, she admitted that even though she sits in on her student’s lessons, she can’t really tell anymore what “progress” looks like. I will renew my efforts at parent communication! So, any thoughts or suggestions?
Susie Marten, President
Pikes Peak Music Teachers Association