"Partners: Excellent idea, excellent grouping. It was a
terrific way to learn to detect problems and/or good elements in someone else's
"Partner groups: a brilliant stroke of
"Partner groups were my favorite part. Fixed many
problems of mine while others learned from it."
from anonymous evaluations
think the beach outings were a great idea. I think it's very important that
people totally be able to get away from the intense atmosphere for awhile, see
nature, and clear their heads. It was a nice way for people to socialize and
get to know each other."
Curriculum of The Well-Balanced
Participants in The Well-Balanced
Pianist programs experience full schedules of lessons and clinics,
packed with supportive interaction among all participants and
For the curriculum of specific events, please
visit the Events page.
There are five core elements to our program
The following is a general example of what
any program may include.
- Lessons with Dr.
Teresa Dybvig, Susan Nowicki, or a guest
- Clinics, focusing on
learning styles in the private teaching studio,
or an aspect of the Dorothy Taubman's Approach to Piano
Technique. Clinics may start with group lessons, so people know what to do
when they work separately with their partners.
Previous experience in the Taubman
approach is not required.
- Work in partner groups during clinics and
practice is central to The Well-Balanced Pianist programs. Partners
observe one another's lessons, and practice together as desired. Partner group
work helps keep spirits up while keeping focus sharp. People also improve their
teaching in partner group work, learning how to
spot specific problems and solutions with alignment, balance, and movement, and
good ways to move people's hands and arms.
- Group classes in which all students
observe and sometimes help one another's work, giving all participants an
opportunity to observe people working at all levels. This helps people develop
a sense of the big picture.
- Scheduled exercise breaks for beach excursions, running, hiking,
- Special events such as presentations
and/or interactive classes on interpretation, learning styles, memory, or
performance mindset performances
- Scheduled bodywork sessions in Yoga, Alexander, Aston-Patterning,
or Feldenkrais. Previous experience in of these disciplines is not
- Guided discussion on positive
mindset for practice and performance. For
these we rely greatly on Don Greene's Performance Success, but also use
other resources, such as Susan Jeffers' Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,
Timothy Galwey's Inner Game of Tennis, and ideas from our own personal
journeys, imagination, and experience!
- Showings of The Taubman Techniques
- In longer-lasting programs, a
Works-in-Progress recital, at which people perform anywhere from one perfect
note played by a perfect thumb, to Beethoven sonata movements.
Certified Iyengar yoga teacher Carol Burns has
taught yoga classes for The Well-Balanced Pianist programs on Long
"I felt great after the yoga
| A note
to you from director Teresa Dybvig about The Well-Balanced
Pianist curriculum philosophy:
The curriculum of
The Well-Balanced Pianist stems from several sources. One is my
observation that people who approach their pianistic improvement from many
directions improve faster than people who focus narrowly on playing more
repertoire, or learning healthier hand and arm movement. Another was my
personal experience in improving my playing through lesson observation and
teaching. Another was my bewilderment that so many students of mine could
attend a comprehensive lecture on one aspect of piano technique and leave with
an odd focus on a marginal element that didn't help their playing in any
First, I backed up and
asked myself what kind of information a pianist/teacher needed in order to
improve. Then I decided to create a program in which people had the chance to
improve their musicality, technique, mindset, posture, and teaching all at
Then, I consulted with
people whose passion is education -- most notably, Dr. Sarah Church and Melissa
Dayton. It turns out that it's widely known in the education world that a
couple of situations greatly speed up learning.
One is "learning
communities." The one-room schoolhouse, for example, in which more advanced
students solidify their understanding of material by helping less advanced
students, is a fantastic learning situation.
fact is that the most effective learning occurs when a student is presented
with a small amount of information and then given the opportunity to experience
the information in a number of ways.
I could see that there
was a way to work with these facts to create an optimal learning situation.
First, I created
partner groups in The Well-Balanced Pianist programs.
Participants have the option of participating more or less in their groups.
Those who fully particpate in their groups -- take notes for one another at
lessons, practice with one another, and provide moral support -- improve much
more than those who don't participate. If I had to put a number on it, I would
say they learn four times as much per week than equally motivated participants
who merely observe lessons and practice on their own.
I recently heard Dr.
Steven Post, co-author of Why Good Things Happen to
Good People, speak on another benefit of learning communities: he says
that when people help others in learning communities, their health and
happiness improves! That's fine with us at The Well-Balanced
My consultation with
experts in education also led me to have clinics instead of lectures. In
clinics, we present a small amount of information, and allow people to
experience it by observing others, working with the clinician, and working with
others. Written material supports understanding in another way.
There is one other
element that I believe increases the rate of learning at The
Well-Balanced Pianist: the environment is fun and supportive.
Participants feel they can be open about their pianistic foibles, and nobody
will criticize. We can all laugh about our shortcomings, and enjoy the
adventure of improving our playing.
If you come to
even one program, you will see what I mean! You can enjoy yourself while
improving in important ways. Don't just believe me, read what
past participants have to say.
- Teresa Dybvig