Texas Music Teachers Association hosted a wonderful convention over Father’s Day weekend with Peter Mack as a special guest.  If you’re not familiar with Dr. Mack you can read a short bio here.  Peter Mack gave an opening keynote address, a session on “The Art of the Phrase,” a guest recital, and a masterclass.  That’s a lot in one weekend!  He was a fabulous special guest at the convention.  I thought that I’d share with you some of the nuggets of wisdom I jotted down in my notes during his keynote address.

Inspiration from Peter Mack

  • “Masterclasses should as much be a celebration of what goes right as condemnation of what goes wrong.”  Dr. Mack stated that he began writing down things that go well in a performance as well as things that need correction.  Masterclasses can be a positive experience for the student if handled well by the clinician.
  • There are two ways to “encourage” student progress, either nurture a love of music or use fear and intimidation.  Unfortunately, both ways will work, at least to a point, but which would you rather use?
  • “No composer ever set out to write a boring piece.”  His point is that if the piece is boring, it’s most likely an issue with interpretation, not with the composer.  Make the music exciting!
  • Use a criticism sandwich – Start with a positive item, followed by a criticism, and then finish with another positive.  The positive encouragement helps a student open up to be receptive to the criticism.
  • The way you lift your hands up to the piano can set the atmosphere for the piece you are about to play.  Dr. Mack demonstrated by acting like he was going to begin a piece without playing anything.  He then had the audience guess what he was about to play.  The guesses were shockingly accurate!

If you ever have the chance to hear Peter Mack speak or perform, take it!  He’s a great presenter and an overall friendly and generous person.

Author: Spring

Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.