- Teaching Piano Pedagogy: A Guidebook for Training Effective Teachers by Courtney Crappell
As an experienced pedagogue writing a book for teachers about teaching, it would be tempting for an author to feel justified in constructing an argument that only presents their particular teaching method, only sets their favoured models of teaching, and only includes their preferred teaching texts. If Teaching Piano Pedagogy could be said to be guilty of this, then it is in the best way possible, as it is an almost exhaustive resource of information relating to piano teaching, and a guidebook in every sense.
This superb book acts as both an encyclopedia of all aspects of teaching pedagogy and as a guide to creating effective course curricula and creative assignments. Crappell presents comprehensive and accessible surveys of vast tracts of the piano teaching repertoire, educational theories, and teaching-related literature. With suggestions on how to approach the dissemination of the volume of material in a pertinent way to each teacher's pedagogy class, alongside practical suggestions for course structure and classroom activities, this book is an invaluable resource for any pedagogue.
Entrenched from the outset is the principle that learning comes from within, and that teachers are there to facilitate students' knowledge and enlightenment. This book is an outstanding example of this approach. Rather than [End Page 42] only offering one way of approaching a situation, Crappell draws on his wealth of experience to give objective insights and alternatives, allowing the reader to find their own solution. Many excellent books have been published on how to teach the piano, but there are considerably fewer, such thorough publications, about the training of piano teachers. Acknowledging the expertise that many pedagogy tutors will already have, and recognising that the book may also be used by piano teachers themselves, the introduction explains Crappell's rationale and suggests how the reader might use the book. A concise explanation of each chapter's content is particularly useful in helping the reader to decide how to read the book.
While in the U.K., piano pedagogy courses are relatively new within conservatoires, in the U.S. they are a staple of piano graduate courses. Crappell himself admits that the book is written from an American perspective, referencing the models and procedures by which the majority of these pianists receive pedagogy training. As such, the book is a culmination of extensive reading, research, and personal teaching experience within the American system, and provides non-American readers a valuable insight into how these programmes are conducted. Chapter 1 contains a definition of piano pedagogy, a historical background to the emergence of pedagogy as a discipline in the U.S., and the formation of teacher training programmes. Crappell argues the case for specialist pedagogy courses as being worthy of separate distinction from performer programmes. This valid idea is something that has only recently gained traction in Europe, and Crappell is justifiably eloquent and persuasive in his position; the thorough training of piano teachers is worthwhile and necessary. This chapter would be of particular interest to anyone, both non-pianists and non-musicians, with an interest in the history of learning and teacher/pupil relationship models.
One of the challenges facing any piano pedagogy teacher is the vast amount of literature which exists on the subject. More so than for any other individual instrument, there are an overwhelming number of books about piano teaching, numerous educational theories stretching back hundreds of years, alongside a substantial amount of 'teaching' repertoire. Deciding how to present this information in a coherent and manageable way is not easy: teachers may have preferences for certain texts and styles of teaching often borne out of experience, but nevertheless want to give their trainee teachers a wider context. This guide is an excellent reference point for those searching for new sources, as well as those wanting to give wider context to already familiar material. In Chapter 3, not only does Crappell provide summaries and reviews of texts, he also suggests how to present...