EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association) have introduced a series of three one day events this year. They are all to be held at Yamaha London in Wardour Street, and will be free of charge for EPTA members and their students. The first event is on March 19th and is an Urtext Primo Study Day with Nils Franke and Universal Edition.
Nils Franke has held scholarships and awards at several music colleges and universities, including the Royal Academy of Music (London). He studied piano, amongst others, with Sulamita Aronovsky and Vovka Ashkenazy. In 2005 Franke became the course director of the MA in Instrumental Teaching at the University of Reading and in April 2013 took up the position of Head of Studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). His commercial recordings include music by Rachmaninov and Bortkiewicz for Warner and Brilliant Classics, and his work in piano pedagogy led to an involvement in professional development programmes for piano teachers. Franke’s work as a pianist and researcher in historical piano pedagogy has led to a number of publications, including CD releases, editions of sheet music and the Urtext Primo Series from Wiener Urtext Edition.
Nils, who is author of Wiener Urtext’s Primo series, will look at three specific topics on March 19th: grading repertoire, the purpose of urtext in piano teaching, and the pedagogy of some of the great pianist-composers. He will play some of the rarer teaching material included in this series, and lead two workshop presentations in how to grade piano music. The day concludes with a short seminar that explores pianist-composer’s ideas about piano teaching, and their ‘top tips’ for technique development.
Adrian Connell (Universal Edition, London) recently interviewed Nils about the forthcoming UT Primo day, and here is their transcript:
AC: Nils, you are running a free day course for piano teachers. What’s the theme?
NF: I guess the story is Piano Teaching and Learning, but from a teacher’s perspective.
AC: What do you mean?
NF: The sessions offer piano teachers three things: a workshop in grading their own repertoire, an understanding of what the term URTEXT actually means in piano teaching, and an insight into the teaching practice of great pianist-composers, sometimes in their own words, sometimes in those of their students.
AC: What made you decide on these three topics?
NF: I wanted to place the teacher at the centre of the debate. Much CPD is –quite rightly- concerned with the student, from people’s learning styles to more specific pianistic issues. But teachers give a lot of themselves, every lesson, every day. I think sometimes it’s good to do something for yourself, and to spend some time enriching one’s own world. But there is no doubt that what we’ll be doing on the day will also benefit the students.
AC: Ok, tell me more about the sessions.
NF: The workshop on grading will use almost exclusively little or unknown repertoire. It’ll get people thinking about the criteria for what is suitable for students at what grade, and how a piece might be of technical and/or musical value to the student’s development.
The Urtext session looks at what this term means, and how to distinguish a really good and current edition from something, well, less convincing. But it’s not an academic presentation, it’s all about the music we use in teaching, and this time using some core repertoire.
And the talk about great pianist-composers as teachers will look at some really interesting stuff, for example Chopin’s drafts and thoughts for his piano method, Liszt’s advice on technique maintenance (even at the early stages of learning to play the piano), and Beethoven’s and Brahms’ advice to their students about technique and repertoire.
AC: Overall, what’s your goal for the day?
NF: I want those attending to leave the room with bags more information, with ideas and tips they can use for their own work, and be excited about knowing where to look for more info. Shall we have another round of coffee?
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
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