At the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music we strive to give students many opportunities to help make them better musicians and prepare them for their future careers. One of the ways is through the wide variety of classes, such as piano pedagogy.
The piano pedagogy class at the University is required for all piano majors and can be taken at any point during their time at school. As many younger students have not had the opportunity to teach private lessons themselves, the goal of the class is to help them learn how to be teachers. With this in mind Dr. Artina McCain, Coordinator of Piano Studies and Assistant Professor of Piano, has set up the Piano Pedagogy Project, which has been a great success for the past five years.
Through the Piano Pedagogy Project, Dr. McCain contacts local music programs in the Memphis area to establish a collaboration between students at the University and the younger students in those programs. The project started with University students going to tutor and help out with these younger students in their large group classes, but it has developed into more one-on-one interactions with the students. Recently it has grown so much that recitals with the younger students became possible.
“I just thought…if you’re going to be in a piano ped. class you need to get that
experience teaching,” explained Dr. McCain. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to interact with the Memphis community and share their talents and love of music.”
Currently the Piano Pedagogy Project is working with Raleigh Egypt Middle/High School. Due to Covid-19 the project has had to be adapted, but students there are still able to gain much from the experience. The program now has more of a mentorship focus, as the middle/high school students are able to join piano pedagogy a Zoom class and ask questions during a breakout session. While the face-to-face interactions may be changed for now, the students are still excited to be working closely with the Raleigh Egypt students
This program not only allows our students to grow in their own technical skills, but in many other ways as well. “I also see them maturing as human beings, their language develops, their empathy develops, and their understanding for the process develops,” explained Dr. McCain. It is experiences like the Piano Pedagogy Project, that encourage community-based learning, that are so unique to the School of Music. While this year may look different than years past, the class is striving to make sure the music never stops.
The piano pedagogy class will be hosting its next recital November 18th at 3:30 pm, in which the Raleigh Egypt students will have the chance to perform with the UofM students there to cheer them on.