McMaster Piano Pedagogy Courses

I am writing to raise parents’ awareness of advantages taking lessons from professionally trained music teachers.

At present, there are people with no qualifications teaching music, trying to fill the gap left by a lack of music education in the public schools. Parents are hiring neighborhood kids with little experience, piano store owners are hiring students at rock bottom wages in order to make a profit, and there are countless music “schools”, “conservatories” and “academies” taking advantage of consumers unaware of the lack of teacher qualifications in these situations.

As a result, there is a large dropout rate of music students in these substandard schools and studios. Many students quit music feeling frustrated, and some of the more persistent ones often end up in doctors’ offices suffering from physical ailments related to not being taught the proper technique in playing a musical instrument. The Musician’s Clinic at Shedoke Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario is overbooked by referrals from MDs sending sufferers in attempt in hope for cure. Why when we come to Hospital, we are expecting to get help from professionals and leaving our Music education to amateurs? A few music stores, such as the Mirriam School of Music in Mississauga, Ontario, have realized the need for professionally trained staff and have initiated their own music teachers training courses.

I used to teach the applied Piano Pedagogy course in Minsk (Belarus) at the University for music teachers. It was the University for Licensed Teachers to upgrade their knowledge of the newest methods available. According to the rules there that time, all licensed music teachers once every 5 years must attend a one-month training course and  pass exams in order to maintain their license to teach.

Recently, School of the Arts approved the Piano Pedagogy Course through the Centre for Continuing Education at McMaster University. The course is designed to be open to all mature people willing to get the newest knowledge or to upgrade existing experience on music teaching.

We could be a liaison between piano music teachers and various music faculties in the universities to set up music courses related to Music Pedagogy and business practices in the private studios. We could also provide qualified staff to help serious musicians start up their own businesses.

By improving the quality of the teaching existing unqualified music teachers, the quality of instruction in all small institutions will improve, as will the long-term result of music instruction.

I am hoping that support from parents to lobby our politicians for improving music education and media could help us to promote higher standards of private music teaching throughout the country as well.

The need to improve this situation is urgent. It is long-overdue.

Leon Karan

MFA., B.Mus., RMT.

McMaster University.