As another year comes to a close, people everywhere are beginning to set goals for 2014. Music educators are not immune to this process. Many of us are reflecting on the progress our students made in 2013 and considering the next goal to present to them. In all of the planning, it becomes easy to overlook the opportunity to set new goals for the most important musician in our studio: OURSELVES! Few of us pursuing careers in music hold a single job title, so it may be important to set an obtainable (and valuable) goal for each part of our musical life.
I tend to devote the smallest amount of time to my personal development as a soloist. My piano students are all beginners and intermediates. I rarely have an opportunity to perform major solo works. Over the years, I have moved away from solo performance because I have not developed the ability to play securely from memory. Recognizing this weakness in my skill set has led to my first goal of 2014: I will memorize two major works for solo piano. That's not an overwhelming project, I know. Because of my time limitations, I decided to keep the number small so I have plenty of time to explore methods of memorizing and try to discover what works best for me. The two pieces I have chosen are Beethoven's Sonata, Op. 2, No. 1 and Chopin's Scherzo in Bb minor, Op. 31.
My major area of performance is as a collaborator with vocalist. My bread and butter comes from knowing the major song repertoire. I feel secure in my knowledge of the German, Italian, and English rep; French songs are another story. I haven't mapped out a plan yet, but my goal is to become more familiar with the songs of Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Poulenc, and Hahn. At this point, I anticipate intentionally listening to the songs and reading/learning through the complete works. It's a goal; now I simply have to solidify a plan and get to work.
Presenting informative and enjoyable lectures can be a challenge. The situation becomes more difficult when the audience is composed of college students you are desperately trying to engage with the material. Encouraging music students to strive for piano proficiency can be just as daunting. This year, I hope to add new technology to my classroom teaching. Right now, my lectures include slide shows and video clips. Now I'm looking for methods to supplement the content outside of the classroom while providing students opportunities to interact with the material in class without the fear of public failure. I'm a musician, not a technology geek. I have no idea what this is going to look like or how it will work, but I have read that many educators are finding success by incorporating technology in the classroom. It's time for me to get on board and learn some new techniques that will improve my teaching and increase my students' understanding.
There you have my professional goals for 2014. What's on the horizon for you in the new year? I would love to hear about your plans in the comment section below.