Friday, February 23, 2024

Piano and teaching

One of my favorite blogs is owned by the writer and professor, Alan Jacobs. As a teacher myself, I learn so much from him. On the first day of his Christian Renaissance of the Twentieth Century course, he played for his students "a few minutes of the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto."

He writes:
So one of the things I am doing in this class, and will be trying in other classes, is to get my students to spend five minutes listening to music. I forbid digital devices in my classes, so they just have their books and notebooks in front of them — they can of course be distracted from the music, but it’s not automatic, not easy. If listening is the path of least resistance, then maybe they’ll listen. I’ve started with five minutes, but I hope to work our way up to longer pieces. My dream — and alas, it is but a dream — is, one Holy Week, to sit together with my students and listen to the single 70-minute movement that is Arvo Pärt’s Passio.

This fascinates me. Playing music in class. I remember my neurology professor, Dr. Leonard Pascual, telling stories about playing the piano at the BSLR, the entire med school class jamming in songs. The BSLR was demolished a few years ago. Whatever happened to the old upright piano? 

I'm barely able to play the piano for myself—let alone for an audience. Each week, I carve a special hour for lessons with Ma'am Deb, my gracious teacher. My current piece is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Maybe I can find a way to squeeze the piece in my introduction to my lectures of gene transcription.



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