On Teaching

June 5, 2015

Gavin Black is director of the Princeton Early Keyboard Center in Princeton, New Jersey. He has written the On Teaching column in The Diapason since September 2007. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

Summer break

I am writing only briefly this month just to let everyone know that I am, for the first time since starting this column, going to take a summer vacation. I won’t be writing columns for the next few months and will return in October. 

When I and the column do return, I expect to resume with a few very practical columns arising out of things that some of my students, and a fellow teacher or two, have asked me about or brought to my attention recently: for example, the matter of helping students to choose specific pedalings for passages (something that I haven’t really addressed directly in the various columns devoted to developing pedal facility and technique) or the question of how to be sure, when blocking out fingerings early in the learning process, that those fingerings will work at a faster tempo. (It is interesting to me that a lot of students have this as a specific question. I have helped students think about it, but I haven’t yet written about systematic ways of approaching the matter.) 

I am going to spend some of the time off working on pulling together the organ method that was partly serialized in columns a couple of years ago. (I have tentatively decided to extract and publish first a stand-alone pedal method, and then proceed later with the rest of the book.) I am very grateful to readers for valuable feedback on this, which I will now be able to digest at some leisure. (And if anyone reading this has any further thoughts about it, please get in touch.)

Over the summer, we are going to work on plans for certain enhancements or additions to the column, initially revolving around video. I will be creating several short videos dealing—in a way that includes an element of direct demonstration that a written column can’t quite manage—with aspects of the teaching, learning, and practicing process. This is a new venture for me, and one about which I am quite excited. I am also concerned that I take the time to get it right. 

As always, I would welcome any communications from readers—especially during this brief break. Any feedback about recent columns, or ideas for future columns, thoughts about how to approach the video project, or other ideas about how to expand or enhance the “On Teaching” project will be greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and I will see you in the fall!