I am in the middle of my Master’s in Composition through the University of Birmingham, UK. During this final semester, I need to finish a piano concerto, clean up several shorter works, and write a 5000 word commentary on my portfolio of 45 minutes of new music. To help make time for this, I have shortened my semester of private teaching, scheduled no fall nor winter recitals, and challenged all of my older students to learn three new works largely independently from me.
The idea of independent learning with my older students originates in the concept of the Accomplished Learner – the graduating high school student who is both an accomplished pianist and a capable self-learner. This concept, first introduced to me at a Suzuki Principles in Action course, has proved a useful metric for my teaching.
My need to lighten my teaching load became an opportunity to push my students closer to becoming an Accomplished Learner. Using the guidelines offered in the Gerald Klickstein’s fabulous book The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness, I created a packet intended to lead my students through the steps of learning a piece independently.