Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Milton Ontario Workshop

Milton, Ontario is a town west of Toronto off the Trans-Canada Highway 401. It is another very attractive Ontario town, with a charming town centre containing lots of specialty shops. It is also distinguished by being Canada’s fastest growing communities. The local music teachers’ association seems to have taken a liking to me – this was my third visit! My first ever Connections workshop was hosted by the Milton Teachers’ Association ( This workshop was on American Popular Piano ( A number of teachers were familiar with the series already and they were therefore very pleased to see Levels 6, 7 and 8 out at last.

Here are the three delightful organisers of the Milton workshop (and me!)

Picture 1: Milton, Ontario teachers and CN

I did a similar presentation to the one at the MTNA Atlanta conference –I started with a description of the present slightly parlous state of piano teaching, - students dropping out young or giving up around 12 years of age or not continuing to play at all once they go to college. There are lots of reasons for this, but a major one is that students have to find time for piano playing alongside all their other activities – sport, homework, Facebook etc. They also need to feel that the music they play is relevant to their musical tastes and (more to the point perhaps) relevant to their friends and parents.

Scott McBride Smith and I, along with Clarke MacIntosh, developed American Popular Piano to help address these issues, as well as to provide a course that emphasises “traditional” virtues like strong, independent fingers, great sight-reading and thoroughgoing ear-training. The Milton teachers agreed with all this, but the demonstration of the Improvisation Etudes at all Levels was the clincher. I had both students and teachers up to play and the results were gratifying, to say the least.

You can get something of the flavour of the event from this picture:

Picture 2: the APP seminar in Milton

The Milton Teachers’ Association was very interested in participating in a possible 2010 Christopher Norton Ontario Spring Tour, so I may see them all yet again (plus lots of students) next spring. Thanks everyone!

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