MARGARET BURR PIANO STUDIO
My Teaching Philosophy
I have found that musical inspiration and knowledge can be found everywhere I look in life—the world is our classroom. Music is the most powerful means of communication and self-expression there is, and the most rewarding investment we can make of our time and energy. My goal is to help my piano students develop confidence in self through mastery of piano music and a solid understanding of their individual strengths and unique sound. I encourage my students to be self-motivated and driven to explore and dive into musical styles and genres of their choice, to set goals and achieve them, and to develop and grow as much as possible musically. Ultimately, I help my students find joy in creating and mastering music, and then in sharing and collaborating musically with others.
Balancing challenges with creativity
I seek to connect musically with my students on a meaningful level, so that they can trust me and feel safe to be creative and express themselves fully as human beings. I like to give generous yet honest praise, and encouraging, positive suggestions for improvement. It’s also important to me to constantly challenge my students; having absolute faith in their ability to deliver (to believe they can already do it, even if they don’t yet believe it). I also love to balance my seriousness with playfulness, creativity, and fun, so that my experiences with music are continually new and fresh—and stay far away from dull and boring. This is why I love to explore many different genres and musical styles. I frequently will laugh at myself and remember that it’s good to make mistakes and be human! This helps me be more patient both with myself and with my students.
A comprehensive teaching approach
I value equally excellent sight-reading skills and ear-training, and strive to help each student become comfortable playing by sight and from memory. To achieve this, I both use flash cards to teach note-reading and encourage my students to have fun figuring out a piece without my help as far as they are able. If I sense they need it, I am careful to give hints and help before any frustration creeps in. This way, they develop trust in their own intellectual and musical abilities and know that I trust them, too. I especially love to teach aural learners because I often wish my own natural aural skills had been given a chance to flourish at a young age. My plan for my aural learners is to give them weekly assignments to transpose at least one piece and then play it for me at the next lesson. I also will ask them to figure out how to play a melody by ear and then harmonize it. For students who enjoy writing music, I will ask them from time to time to write out their transposition or composition on manuscript paper. These methods can help give students great confidence in their musical abilities and a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
I am always striving to do better to help each student grow, progress, and love the music they are learning. I also always seek to increase my own knowledge and skills (performing, composers, piano literature, the rest of the musical world, etc.) so that I can share meaningful and inspiring things I learn with my students. I know very well that each child is an individual and needs a carefully thought-out teaching approach that will fit his/her personality and abilities. I am a member of MTNA and have the ability to offer my students evaluations, competitions, theory tests, juries, community service performance opportunities, and honors recitals through the association. I also have opportunities to attend monthly chapter meetings in the Provo/Orem area to collaborate and share ideas with other piano teachers.
My motivation for teaching
I have now been playing the piano for 33 years. I feel strongly that I am meant to be on this path, and I am loving every minute of it. I have both wisdom and maturity and I am constantly learning and progressing and pushing myself to succeed. I am raising four children and have lots of experience working with children of all ages and personality types. I have always loved teaching piano and I look forward to many years of rich and rewarding, fun and fulfilling musical experiences with my piano students.