Thursday, July 24, 2008

JG Windows Workshop

Newcastle, England

This workshop, held at the very impressive Centre for Life in the refurbished Newcastle city centre, was the first one that J G Windows had ever put on, so they were interested to see how it went! A group of around 20 teachers came and once again it was a presentation on American Popular Piano, with lots of participation from an ever more willing audience! The readability, instant appeal and ease of use at the early stages of this course of study was commented on and the unique way of teaching improvisation was also of great interest. 

Teachers find it hard to imagine moving to a new core series, so the components had to be explained clearly – learning to play the piano really well, lots of sight-reading and ear-training, repertoire that children will like and that they can choose…All of these elements began to convince some of the audience that this might be one of the few really new ideas to come on the market in some time.

Microjazz and Preludes were also showcased and it became clear that the existing materials and the new materials can work very happily together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Sizzle!

Palmerston, Ontario, Canada

Entering its 9th year, Summer Sizzle is a growing piano pedagogy symposium for teachers and students. It takes place in Palmerston, Ontario, a peaceful country setting. Summer Sizzle helps bring music and culture to rural educators and musicians while offering urban professionals a chance to further learning in a relaxed environment. Over 200 participants attend this annual event, which offers several specialized workshops led by international experts, launches new Canadian pieces with composers in attendance, hosts public concerts showcasing visiting composers, guest experts, teachers and students and boasts a full music trade show.
Summer Sizzle was expanded in 2007 to include a complete three-day Keyboard Kamp for students aged 11 to 21 as well as a half-day Children’s Program for students aged 5 to 10. Keyboard Kamp offers students master classes taught by experts ranging in subject matter from composition to overcoming stage fright. The  Children’s Program offers younger students (and their parents) a chance to engage with visiting composers in composition, rhythm, dance and music development programs.
In 2008, Novus Via Music was pleased to take part and were able to offer the services of Christopher Norton and Scott McBride Smith, the authors of American Popular Piano. Christopher, having just arrived from the UK, went straight into a full day of masterclasses, with students as young as 7 through to late teenagers. Each student had a mini-lesson, with an audience of teachers, other students and parents, on a Christopher Norton piece, from Microjazz, Connections and American Popular Piano. The students who Christopher particularly liked the playing of were chosen to take part in a gala concert the same night, which was very enthusiastically received by the capacity audience. Children and teenagers bounded onto the stage with real joy as they prepared to play pieces that they felt real affinity with. It was a moving and uplifting occasion for all concerned.
 The following day, Christopher and Scott did a joint presentation called “And it’s good for them!” which used American Popular Piano to illustrate how the basics of really good piano playing can be taught using music that students really like. Christopher then went on to give a presentation called “The Norton Code” which unlocked some of the secrets of playing popular styles, touching on terms like shuffle, backbeat and bossa nova and getting the audience to try being human drum kits.
Novus Via will be at the 2009 Summer Sizzle – we hope to see some of you there!