Good Morning!

Recently, I spent a lot of time in downtown Ottawa, which is very rare for me. What could draw me to the busy hub, you ask? It was Music for Young Children’s International Conference. It is usually held every two years across Canada. In 2010 I went to Banff, in 2008 I went to Niagra Falls. I can’t wait for 2015 in Halifax! MYC will be celebrating 35 glorious years in it’s “birthplace” of Nova Scotia.

I’m not sure what kind of conferences you may have attended, but this one was action packed. They are specifically tailored for MYC teachers, and this year, as a conference committee member, I got a sneak peak into what would planned. We had workshops ranging from conservatory exam prep, music history, puppetry, technology for music teachers, child psychology, neuroscience, dancing, and more! It was hard to choose sessions.

I met with teachers from Calgary, parts of BC, and even South Korea. I met with Roland Canada’s president, Paul Coates from Conservatory Canada, and of course, Frances Balodis, creator of MYC.

Mairéad on Parliment Hill before the group singing of O Canada and the MYC Theme Song

Every morning we sang in harmony, and every evening we partied! Check out MYC’s facebook page to see photos from this year’s conference. I learned and reviewed so much, but I’m going to put in brief some things that you may find interesting:

On Music History…

  • In the classical era, hair (or, powdered wigs) went to extremes: horse hair was used to make hair dos over 5 feet high!
  • In the Romantic era, virtuosos like Franz Liszt and Nicolo Paganini had groupies: adoring women would swoon and faint when Liszt threw his gloves into the audience!
  • As soon as Bach died, his music died too. No one played it until it was re-discovered and performed almost 80 years later by Mendelssohn.

On Exam Taking… 

  • Conservatory Canada wants to open e-exam centres for students to take “distance” exams using MIDI, skype and specialized music software. Would you come to an e-exam at my studio? Perhaps I’ll open a centre…
  • “The Practice Monster” affects students and teachers. Why do we keep pushing ourselves with critique? Can we phrase such changes differently? How can I recognize my students’ awesomeness and still demand a high level of performance?
  • Examiners ARE looking for proper fingering, so nya nya! I’ll keep demanding it 🙂

On Children…

  • The “Pampered Child” (arguably a generation of children in generation Y and beyond) has no tolerance for boredom, a sense of entitlement, and is dismissive of adult authority figures. Sadly, they are given the authority to make decisions that we should be making on their behalf. As parents and educators, we need to 1. Be the Adult; 2. Teach. Don’t punish; and 3. Communicate Clearly.
  • Some children with special needs require proprioceptive treatment- a firm touch or stomping movement to begin a self-calming process. This below my mind because as a teacher, I don’t really “touch” students.
  • The homework keyboard pages MATTER to your child. They can choose any colour, combination of colours, or patterns to show what they have been working on that week. I will be more diligent in checking these pages! And please, this is your child’s job. Not yours.
  • We make assumptions and place them on children. I will try to ask more questions and make less assumptions.
  • I can manipulate a puppet’s mouth, eyes, hands and body to communicate effectively with young children. And I need to get all those voices straight! PS: Can’t wait for you to meet Mrs. Treble Clef and Mr. Bass Clef!

On being Digital Citizens…

  • It’s heeeere! Don’t fight it- understand it!
  • Canadians are the #1 viewers of YouTube
  • Canada ranks #1 (per captia) among countries with people who  purchase musical instruments
  • In 2011, digital music sales surpassed CD sales for the first time. Apple tallied 12 billion downloads that year.
  • 36% of parents report that their children ages 2-11 have watched TV and surfed the Internet — simultaneously. (Not sure how to feel about that one!)
  • Given this information, if I don’t meet children and families with these needs, I am going to be way behind! I sure hope I do meet your technological needs 🙂

Professional Development is something very important to me. I like to be a student as much as I enjoy being a teacher.

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer! Love to hear your thoughts on the above post.

-Mairéad

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