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A Piano Teacher's Legacy: Selected Writings by Richard Chronister.

A Piano Teacher's Legacy: Selected Writings by Richard Chronister, edited by Edward Darling. The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, Inc. (P.O. Box 651, Kingston, NJ 08528), 2005. 280 pp. $25.

Most piano teachers today have probably been influenced in some way by the work of Richard Chronister, founder of Keyboard Arts, Keyboard Companion and The National Conference on Piano Pedagogy. Those who knew him will treasure this fine collection of his journal articles, conference addresses, and unpublished lecture notes dating from 1970 until his death in 1999. Those who did not know him will feel as if they did after reading it. The book is full of the wisdom, wit, inspiration and passion for music pedagogy that made Chronister such a leader in the field. Each chapter contains a wealth of practical suggestions for every teacher from the novice to the most experienced--and the principles underlying any approach are clearly and succinctly explained. Sub-headings in each chapter make it easy for the reader to find answers to a particular problem.

The eight chapters in Part One address basic principles of teaching and learning. They cover such topics as stages of learning, motivating students, assessing learning, self-evaluation for teachers and working with parents. These chapters offer a wealth of creative ideas for making music study more enjoyable and ensuring success with every student, which Chronister always believed was possible. With gentle humor, he invites teachers to carefully examine their own teaching, "spring cleaning in the teaching studio."

Part Two focuses on teaching music literacy at the piano, addressing such topics as practice, music reading ("Naming Notes is Not Reading"), rhythm ("Counting is Not Rhythm"), technique and fingering ("Curved Fingers is Not Technique"), theory, ear training, sight playing, improvisation, composition, memorization ("Playing by Heart is Not Memorizing") and recitals.

Throughout the book, the reader is reminded that a teacher's method is not the material taught but how it is taught. Chronister was never afraid to challenge long-held assumptions about teaching when he discovered a better approach, and he devoted his life to developing his own method and encouraging every teacher to do the same through experimentation and discussion with others.

The many--and, often, humorous-anecdotes from his own experience as a student and teacher illustrate basic principles, and there are wonderful photos of Chronister and his legendary colleagues, notably Frances Clark, David Kraehenbuehl and Louise Goss, sprinkled throughout the book.

This book is a must for every piano teacher, and should be required reading for every pedagogy student. Reviewed by Rebecca Shockley, NCTM, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Author:Shockley, Rebecca
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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