Yesterday, my friend, the American conductor Jaemi Loeb inspired me a great night thinking about musical education. We were chatting over the phone and I told her I hate teaching piano. But since everything is never so simple, I realized that it was not really true. I love sharing my passion with others, but isn’t teaching a way to share your passion? So how can I say I don’t like teaching while I like sharing my thoughts about music?
I think everything is a question of conditions. For example, master classes are fitting me like a glove. A few hours with a group of students, giving my point of view, advices on specific works, and sharing thoughts about music is really something magical and challenging for me. I’m not only teaching, but also learning from all these different personalities we meet in a master-class. Both the student and teacher must be like a chameleon and adapt very quickly.
For students, the preparation of these master-classes is also very interesting: they have to consider the work in all its aspects and be ready for anything, to challenge themselves in front of a stranger. For me, the preparation of a master-class is also a good way to broaden my knowledge: I take time to analyze the works to be performed during the session, and if I have time, sit down at the piano and sight-read them.
As for an education on a long term basis, I would opt for a solution that does not exist yet, as far as I know. I would have very few students, but really take care of them. Of course make them practice their piano, but also learn them how to take advantage of their skills and show them what is really the job of a pianist. Ideally, I would listen with them to recordings, criticize concerts, make them read books, but also enable them to follow me in my working days and let them observe how I manage my job and my piano practice.
Unfortunately, in schools, we are often inundated with students and do not have enough time for such an experiment. And in private lessons, students are often too young or not involved enough. I often learned by observing, and I realize now that my studies didn’t prepared me to work as a pianist. I’ve learned to play the piano well, a sine qua non conditio, but it’s far from being the only skill you need as a pianist.
I would have loved to follow my teachers in their daily musical life, see how they practice the piano, how they prepare for a concert, in fact, to learn what the job consists in, and this long before leaving school …
Finally, I would say that I like teaching, but I do not like the actual way you have to teach. I would like to teach piano, but mostly by sharing cultural moments. It might be time to create a school promoting this method?