Putting “Play” back in Music
It matters not to us if a student wants to to learn a Chopin Etude, a Mozart Sonata, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, the latest Taylor Swift Song, Ragtime by Scott Joplin, a chart from Les Miserables, or a Beatles tune. What matters to us is that the student is passionate and can get excited about the music! When a student is inspired and excited about the music – the likelihood that they will practice and stick with music over the years is much greater because they want to learn how to play it!
Force a student to learn what you as the parent (or worse, a teacher who insists on a student learning only XYZ music) want them to learn – and we guarantee that they will lose interest, begin complaining about it, and basically make your life miserable until you finally let them quit. So when we talk about putting Play back into music, we first mean that the music should reach and inspire the student. If that connection for the student gets lost, so too will the student’s musical progression.
Students at Music Pillars Learn to really PLAY
Too often we see students who have technical proficiency (can play a dazzling technical etude) but have little to no actual musical ability outside of playing 4-6 pieces of music that they have spent countless hours on. We call this being technically proficient but musically illiterate. It is a real shame, but it is very common. We believe that students should become musicians first, and technically proficient on the piano/guitar/voice second.
We glean the best from each school of thought in our teaching
So our emphasis in teaching students to play is to combine the best teaching methods of
1) Classical/Tradition with its focus on sight-reading and technical proficiency,
2) Suzuki with its focus on ear training, and
3) Jazz – which focuses on applied theory and ear training.
When students leave Music Pillars, they should be able to read intermediate/advanced fake books, sight-read hymns, play technically-demanding pieces, improvise on a theme, compose, and play by ear.
What will a student learn with us?
Students will learn a compilation of abilities that we call the Core Pillars. The Core Pillars are as follows:
Mastery of the Pillars gives students tools for life
Through the mastery of these pillars, students will be able to play both music they hear from the radio as well as a Mozart Sonata or a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody. Learning to play by ear, while also being able to sight-read is unfortunately a fairly rare combination. This is largely a result of current teachers having had a previous classical college conservatory experience that placed tremendous emphasis on the virtuoso performances at the expense of almost everything else.
Unfortunately, far less emphasis is typically placed to whether or not the musician knows what the theoretical foundation is behind the music they are playing. And while learning and memorizing a piece of music is valuable, it is far more valuable that a musician learns theory. There is nothing wrong with memorizing pieces that can dazzle people. However, the lessons learned in theory and ear-training will serve students far-better in life as a musician than memorizing any Chopin Etude ever will. What we aim to do as teachers is to give beginners and advanced students tools in music that will allow them to participate and contribute as a musician throughout their life, rather than simply committing a few pieces of music to memory that will quickly be forgotten after just a few short months or years.
So in summary, our goal is to put PLAY BACK INTO MUSIC.
We mean PLAY in two distinct ways:
1) We want students playing music that they are INSPIRED BY, and
2) We want students to really be able to play music, meaning that they learn to Improvise, Compose, Play by ear, and be good sight-readers.
We give students the musical tools that will be valuable to them 30 years from now! Not just to teach a student to play something dazzling (although if you are ready for Flight of the Bumblebee, or a piano concerto, we certainly can work on those pieces together!). We exist to create MUSICIANS! We do NOT exist to have technically proficient, but musically illiterate students. We want a former student to be able to sit around a piano on Christmas eve with no music, and play songs for their family. We want students in the future to help their young son/daughter learn a piece of music that they bought online. We want our students that are inspired by a poem to be able to compose music to go along with it. We strive to give you the tools of complete musicianship, not just the ability how to memorize and play a technically challenging Etude or Concerto. Most places will teach you how to play a song perfectly. We will inspire our students by giving them tools for life.