As a piano teacher, I am extremely lucky to work with students as they grow from young kids into mature young adults. And while music is the core foundation to our studies, I challenge students to think outside the box. I don't just teach students how to play music, but I work with them to discover how to see the bigger pictures. While the goals of traditional recitals are often to show off your piano skills and hard work (and we do have those), these goals are a bit separate, with many projects not even including piano specifically!
Every summer we have Summer Showcases to highlight these two types of projects:
Senior Capstone Project: A project that takes 1-2 years (typically Junior & Senior years of high school) that incorporates music (and the types of music they like) with other things they are passionate about. Truly inspiring results have emerged from these projects, and they are completely student-led, with the creative inspiration almost solely coming from students.
Four aspects that are included in these projects include:
Music | This may seem obvious, but often this is in a larger scope than only piano.
Creativity | I challenge students to create something unique that is shaped by who they are and their passions.
Ownership | This is something tangible that students can takeaway from their many years of lessons and take pride and true ownership of.
Outreach | The most important -- this is not a project just between student, teacher, and parents. The project should be something that is not only public but that students are excited to share and feel there is a need for it.
Current Senior Projects include:
Introduction to Raags for the Western Musician (Kaveri I.)
Leeya H - Anime Arranger (Leeya H.)
Jason Louie Piano Lessons (Jason L.)
Melancholy Album (Original Compositions + Artwork) (Myra L.)
Lucas Clark - Composer (Lucas C.)
Summer Project: A project that takes 2-3 months to complete during the summer months. While some studios take off for the summer, I find it is the best time to work on some of the most creative and engaging projects. The project format also allows for students to continue working even if they are away from a piano for summer vacations.
Three aspects that are included in these projects include:
Music | Students get to explore in modes of music other than just piano performance, whether it be other instruments, composition, improvisation/arranging, electronic music / DAWs, and more!
Creativity | An opportunity to try something new! Students have incorporated computer programming, video editing, soccer videos, animation, artwork timelapses, stop motion videos, and so much more! And when they see each other's projects at the Summer Showcases, that can further give them ideas and motivation for the following year.
Ownership | This is something tangible that students can look back upon each year and see how their projects evolve over the years.
Examples have included original compositions, singer/songwriter performances of original songs, improvisations, video editing with multiple instruments, animations, ensemble playing, artwork, presentations, and more.
(Examples can be seen in the video clips below.)