Piano Teacher Development Day with ABRSM-EPTA and Paul Harris

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Last Sunday (27 January 2019) marked the first of six ABRSM-EPTA Piano Teacher Development Days at Chethams School of Music. The event attracted pianists and teachers from across the UK, and followed on from the introductory event last year. It was one of numerous activities taking place in Manchester over the weekend including the EPTA Piano Competition, a masterclass from Boris Berman (Yale University) at Chethams, and a workshop from British pianist Melanie Spanswick at Forsyths Music Shop.

Paul Harris gave a presentation on ‘Simultaneous Learning’: an informed approach that involves teaching creatively from musical ingredients. Paul described the principles of successful teaching in the digital age, the importance of creating goodness and fun in lessons, and setting up independent learning outside of lessons. Harris’s approach to developing successful communication and responses is particularly interesting as is his approach for establishing a mutual ‘currency of gratitude’ between teacher and student.

Helen Krizos led a masterclass of young students, communicating with empowering questions and responses, and allowing the students to achieve their best whilst being observed by a full room (of professional musicians!). Helen’s involvement of a percussion instrument was especially interesting in developing the students’ understanding of pulse, rhythm, and gesture simultaneously, as was her invention of words to accompany the music, creating a musical narrative and developing musical structure, phrasing, and character.

Mark Tanner and Rowan Cozens led the final session involving a demonstration of the need for criteria (through the medium of apple pies!), and encouraging self-assessment using the ABRSM exam criteria. The importance of developing accuracy, fluency, and balance was discussed, as was the importance of developing expressive shape and a sense of performance. Mark also led a number of earlier sessions (alongside those by EPTA Chair, Murray McLachlan) on lesson planning, sustaining inspiration beyond lessons, technique, demonstrations, and choosing repertoire.

The next event – ‘The Effective, Consistent Teacher’ – will take place on 24 February 2019.

Rory Dowse

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