April 2015 MTNA e-Journal

Describing Independent Studio Piano Teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge
By Courtney Crappell, NCTM, and J. Si Millican

In this descriptive survey study, we used researcher-created stimuli to describe the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of independent studio piano teachers (N = 164). Each participant viewed videos of three intermediate-level piano students performing self-selected repertoire and answered open-ended questions related to the performances. We found that, despite variations in piano teacher training programs, the responses to the survey converged at a significant level. In diagnosing performance problems, participants often labeled technical rather than musical issues and the two main causes of student performance issues focused either on the students’ awareness of the need for a change or incorrect technical execution. While the survey asked participants to describe the main performance problem, its cause, and a possible solution, participants frequently found conforming to such a rigid model difficult and often responded in a freer format to questions. Several implications for teacher trainers and in-service teachers surfaced in the results. They suggest that teachers need more experience in organizing and framing pedagogical thoughts and processes. Also, since many participants examined technical issues rather than musical problems, perhaps teachers need to refocus their pedagogical goals on sound production as the goal of music study. Read More.


Piano Curriculum: What Order Do Teachers Introduce Concepts, What Method Books Teachers Are Using And How Do The Method Books Align With Jerome Bruner’s Enactive, Iconic And Symbolic Learning Theory
By Patty K. Nelson

The purpose of this study was to determine what order piano teachers of beginning students ages 6–9 introduced musical concepts in the first year of study, what piano method books they were using and if the order the teachers were introducing the concepts aligned with the order the concepts were introduced in the piano method books. In addition, this study also looked at the three most commonly used method books to see if they aligned with Jerome Bruner’s learning theory concerning enactive, iconic and symbolic learning. The subjects of this study were 562 teachers who were members of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) who each indicated that they taught beginning piano students ages 6–9. The teachers were asked to rank musical concepts in the order they introduced them in the first year of study and what piano method book they were currently using. The results of this study indicated the teachers’ rankings of the concepts correlates significantly at the p < .01 level with the method books rankings. The analysis of the method books indicated the books use enactive and symbolic learning for all concepts but do not use iconic learning except for hand positions, steps and skips. Read More.