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Workshop Programs of Dr. Bruce Berr

"After going through a masters in music ed at (a leading university) complete with two semesters of piano pedagogy, I feel that SO much was missed that you seemed to fill in in just two days! I went home to teach immediately after both days and found that my teaching had improved in so many ways already!" Karen B.

Click on titles for more information

• Developing the "Inhibited" Practicer—Fostering the UNinhibited Pianist, Parts 1 & 2 ——— NEW for 2012

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These programs focus on helping students maximize control in their playing through the use of practice techniques that strengthen what physiologists call "inhibition." The full range of levels from beginning to advanced pianists is discussed. Each part requires about 90 minutes. See the chart of concepts and excerpts covered during these programs.

Equipment required: Piano. Also the means of projecting video from a DVD player or the output of a computer in order to show score excerpts during the presentation.

• Pedagogy in Pictures: Video Clips of Piano Students Caught in the Act of Being Themselves


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This highly entertaining and informative program covers teaching strategies and techniques, supported by recent and older videos of my teaching. These capture special moments that teachers really appreciate. It also acts as a springboard for discussing basic and not-so-basic pedagogy. The program is modular—it can be 60, 90, or 120 minutes in length (90 being the most popular). I have created a library of dozens of video clips, so no two programs need ever be the same!

Equipment required: Means of projecting video and amplifying audio from a DVD player, or the output of a computer. Also requires a piano if most of the participants consist of undergraduate or graduate pedagogy students.

• Dynamic Markings Are Overrated! Teaching Music Interpretation from the Inside Out

Many of the expression marks that composers and editors include in scores are redundant—they are outgrowths of what the raw material of the music implies. Students play more convincingly, and understand more about music, when they can perceive a piece on its own terms: the harmony, rhythm, melody, the pianistic texture and gesture. This workshop will explore how students of all ages and levels can be taught to hear and respond to important musical "events" in the pieces they are playing, with only a minimum amount of traditional music theory.

Equipment required: Piano.

• Variations, Variations Everywhere (and Not a Drop of Ink!) — Teaching Musical Interpretation by Varying the Music Itself

A unique and fun program that explores ways of helping students at all levels play repertoire more expressively and individually without the need for extensive coaching from the teacher. By learning how to perceive musical events relative to internal expectations, students can become more independent and authentic interpreters. The final section is called "Pedagogy Puzzlers" in which participants create practice variations as a group!

Equipment required: A piano, and a means of projecting video from a DVD player, or the output of a MacBook Pro.

• First Things First: Revisiting Articulation

This program examines various aspects of teaching articulation to students of all levels. The main thrust is on how certain gestures and approaches need to be refined as students play in more diverse styles and as their repertoire advances. I also discuss how those approaches can be introduced "in miniature" to elementary-level students.

Equipment required: Piano.

• Teaching Demonstration


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Like a master class but more interactive. I like to spend about 20 minutes with each student, so if your schedule allows for 75 minutes, 3-4 students would be the maximum. Students should bring two pieces: one performance-ready, the other in-progress—having been introduced no more than two weeks before. Memorization is not required but the polished piece can be if the student chooses. Scores for both pieces should be brought to the event. It is recommended to have a mixture of students of different ages and levels. A variation of this program is to use exclusively jazz repertoire.

Equipment required: One piano.

• Repertoire-by-Request

A program you can totally customize! You would poll your group for suggested repertoire for me to discuss (or you as the Program/Conference Chair could create the list yourself). Please request from each member a maximum of 3 elementary level, 2 intermediate, and/or 2 early-advanced suggestions. I then select from that list the pieces most requested or the most interesting from a pedagogical standpoint. I discuss and demonstrate the music in terms of expression, ease, and accuracy. I would need your suggested pool of pieces no later than six weeks before the scheduled event.

Equipment required: Piano.

• Seminar on Requested Topics ——— NEW for 2012

Another program you can totally customize! You would poll your group for suggested topics or specific questions for me to discuss, and I then choose about six or seven that would seem to have the most value to the overall group. I cover each topic/question with general information, demonstration of specific repertoire at the piano (if relevant), followed by group discussion. I would need your suggested pool of topics/questions about a month before the scheduled event.

Equipment required: Piano.

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If your group or conference has any ideas for programs that you would like me to consider creating, please suggest them!

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