My college piano teacher, Leonora Suppan, was a strong proponent of classical music. She was, after all, a professional, playing solo, with a string quartet, and a performer with a small but excellent symphony. She played classical, and she taught it.
Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes a change of pace at Listening House Studios. We like to offer our students a break in the usual routine while also sharpening their skills.
A couple of years ago, Eric devised a list of study options for summer. I did the same, and here are a sample of what some of my students studied:
*Mallory learned a selection of "hymns through the ages."
*Ashlyn studied the blues.
*Tori composed her own Taylor Swift-style song, then sang and played and recorded it.
*Matthew continued lessons as usual.
*Jason worked on a crazy-hard piece by Chopin.
*Phillip focused on worship music arrangements, chording, and lead sheets.
During summer lessons, the living is easy and the lessons are especially fun.
Listening House Studios believes in teaching a wide variety of music and music techniques. In November and December, for example, I concentrate on playing lead sheets. Our students learn to read a melody line written as notes, with their right hands, and play chords from chord symbols with their left hands. Eric focuses on this throughout the year.
Years ago, a friend told us a true story about a young woman (I’ll call her Ann) who student-taught music in a tiny, rural school in northeast Missouri. Ann wanted to expose the children to classical music, so one day she passed out a list of the great composers to a high school class and asked students to check the ones whose names they recognized.
After graduating, I moved on to a demanding college piano professor, an Austrian-born perfectionist who played professionally with a symphony and A string trio. She had little sympathy for my sloppy training. Ms. Suppan demanded that I work on pieces until they met her high standards. This new music was then added to my ongoing repertoire, which she expected me to be able to play up to snuff whenever she asked for it.