63 episodes

This podcast is a collection of creative ideas, practical strategies, and thoughtful observations from the field of music teaching and learning. Music educator Ashley Danyew will dive into topics like how we learn, developing musicianship, time management, teaching sequences, planning tools and strategies, the art of teaching, practicing, and the creative process, and share personal stories from her own experiences and observations. You’ll find creative and pedagogically-sound teaching tips; fresh, new approaches you can use in your teaching; and insight into a few tried-and-true systems and creative processes designed to help you do your best work.

Field Notes on Music Teaching & Learning Ashley Danyew

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 15 Ratings

This podcast is a collection of creative ideas, practical strategies, and thoughtful observations from the field of music teaching and learning. Music educator Ashley Danyew will dive into topics like how we learn, developing musicianship, time management, teaching sequences, planning tools and strategies, the art of teaching, practicing, and the creative process, and share personal stories from her own experiences and observations. You’ll find creative and pedagogically-sound teaching tips; fresh, new approaches you can use in your teaching; and insight into a few tried-and-true systems and creative processes designed to help you do your best work.

    Women in Music Month in the Studio

    Women in Music Month in the Studio

    I was talking with one of my high school students a few weeks ago about music by women composers.

    We were studying "Canoeing" by Amy Beach in the Celebration Series Level 7 Piano Repertoire book, the third piece in her Op. 119 collection, From Six to Twelve for Piano written in 1927. "Amy Beach was the first American woman to achieve widespread recognition as a composer of large-scale works," I read from my iPad.

    My student, in addition to piano and double bass, her primary instrument, is also a composer. Her most recent work was a four-and-a-half-minute piece for string ensemble that she wrote over a weekend!

    She's also picked up numerous other instruments through the years—harpsichord, marimba, viola, bass drum, guitar, and even a Viola da Gamba.

    We listened to a recording of the piece and played through the score. We discussed how the rippling eighth notes between the hands create a sense of paddling, left then right. We talked about Amy Beach's life, marriage, and musical career.

    "This piece reminds me of works by a few other women composers," I said after a few minutes. I pulled up a copy of Cecile Chaminade's Album des enfants, Op. 123 written in 1906 and played the first page.

    "Another female composer writing around this same time was Charlotte Sohy," I said. "She has a set of piano pieces that might be fun for you to play," I said, pulling up the score for 6 petites pièces on my iPad. Her eyes lit up. "Yes, I'd like that," she said, nodding.

    This is how the idea began for studying and learning music by women composers during the month of March, International Women's Month.

    In this episode, I'll talk about the composers and scores we'll study over the next four weeks and share a resource list of elementary and intermediate piano music written by women composers that you can reference in your teaching.

    • 14 min
    The Valentine Composition Project

    The Valentine Composition Project

    It was 1997.

    My piano teacher had just shown us a picture of Belle, Bonne, Sage, a rondeau about love written in the shape of a heart by 15th-century French composer, Baude Cordier. I studied the top two staves, curved to create the top of the heart, the illuminated letter B at the beginning of the first word, Belle, and the unique black-and-red notation.

    This signaled the beginning of the annual studio-wide Valentine composition project.

    Every year around this time, my piano teacher invited us to write our own piece of music, a "musical Valentine," as she called it. The idea was to not only write an original piece, but gift it to someone—maybe a grandparent, friend, or neighbor—and perform it for them.

    We worked on these compositions for several weeks, usually starting right after Winter Break, making a little progress with each lesson so that we had a finished work to perform for someone by Valentine's Day.

    This is a story about writing my first Valentine composition project, how I remember the creative process, and how I modified this project for my own studio all these years later.

    • 11 min
    Begin Again: The Case for Experimentation in Your Music Teaching

    Begin Again: The Case for Experimentation in Your Music Teaching

    Happy New Year!

    The change in the calendar year reminds us that there are things in life that ebb and flow. There's comfort in that familiar rhythm, the cyclical nature of our seasons, our routines. What does the beginning of a New Year signify for you? What kind of season do you find yourself in these days?

    I recognized recently that I am in a season of learning.

    Of course, I am still actively teaching five days a week, but at the same time, I'm reflecting, jotting down stories and realizations at the end of the teaching day—things I'd like to do differently next time or things I didn't plan but observed or participated in that ended up teaching me something as well as my student.

    I'm reading and incorporating a few new teaching approaches and testing them out in particular lessons. I'm studying new repertoire and brushing up on my music history to share with my intermediate students this semester. I'm also embracing being a beginner in something outside of music.

    This season is marked by experimentation—that desire to try something new, play with it, and study the results. How does it work? How does it feel? What are the benefits and challenges? What will I do differently next time?

    Do you go through seasons like this, where you want to explore and uncover new ways of doing things? Where you want to study something, take it apart, and put it back together? Where you want to remind yourself what it feels like to be a beginner?

    Here are four ways I'm embracing experimentation in my music teaching this season.

    • 13 min
    Here's What I'm Learning: A Look Back on 2022

    Here's What I'm Learning: A Look Back on 2022

    Welcome, December: A month of parties and pageants, decorations and delight, twine-wrapped packages and twinkling lights.

    In the midst of all the end-of-year festivities, I like to steal a few quiet moments for reflection:

    I make a list of all the books I read this year and what I want to read next year (look for the link to that in the show notes, if you're curious),

    I make an end-of-year summary for my business and send a spring calendar to my studio families,

    I write a year-in-review blog post, and

    I reflect on what I've learned as a teacher.

    As teachers, we spend so much of our time focusing on what our students are learning and discovering. Are they progressing? Are we challenging them enough? Too much? How have they grown in their musicianship this year? What should we focus on in the next few months?

    Our students deserve this kind of reflection and planning to guide their learning and promote their continued skill development.

    But what about us? Are we progressing? Are we challenged enough? Too much? How have we grown in our musicianship this year? What should we focus on in the next few months?

    Taking time to reflect on our teaching practice is an important and necessary part of the teaching-and-learning equation. So today, I'm looking back on all the moments I documented on the podcast this year and sharing seven things I've learned as a music educator.

    • 13 min
    5 Things to Do When You Feel Burnt Out

    5 Things to Do When You Feel Burnt Out

    Researchers suggest that twenty to thirty percent of teachers in America have moderately high to high levels of burnout (source). Maybe you know the feeling:

    Tired, mentally and emotionally.Distracted and uninspired.Going through the motions.Trouble making decisions.

    These are warning signs.

    I read a really interesting book earlier this year called (appropriately enough) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. It's written by twin sisters Emily Nagoski, a health educator and researcher, and Amelia Nagoski, a choral conductor.

    In the book, they write that Herbert Freudenberger first coined the word burnout as a technical term in 1975. Three components defined it:

    Emotional exhaustion—the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long;

    Depersonalization—the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion; and

    Decreased sense of accomplishment—an unconquerable sense of futility: feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.

    Why does this happen? Why do we get burnt out and is there anything we can do about it? Today, I'm sharing five practical things you can do when you feel stressed or burnt out plus a few of my go-to resources.

    • 13 min
    What Does Creative Music Teaching Look Like?

    What Does Creative Music Teaching Look Like?

    There's been a lot of talk in recent years about creative teaching strategies and being a creative teacher. But what does that really mean? What does it look like in practice?

    Of course, there's a certain amount of creativity naturally embedded in the work of making music together. Music is a creative art! But what does creative teaching mean? Is it inherent or is it something we need to develop? Is it something we bring into our teaching space or is it something we co-construct with our students?

    Does this sound a little too research-y? Once a researcher, always a researcher, I guess!

    Here's a simpler description:

    In our world today, creative teaching seems to mean having an arsenal of note-naming worksheets, interactive Google Slide activities, and dice board games to reinforce every new skill or concept. Some of these tools are great and technology has certainly changed the way we teach and present new information, especially in the past few years.

    The problem is the quality.

    What are the educational goals or objectives of these games and activities? Are they musical (this is a big one for me)? Do they help the learner develop their musicianship skills? Do they provide the right amount of challenge?

    These are questions I've been pondering in my own teaching this year and today, I'm sharing some of what I've been reading and learning about creative music teaching in practice.

    • 12 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

dddggst ,

Great podcast for music teachers

I am not a piano teacher, but a flute teacher. However I still find this podcast very helpful and really well done. I enjoy listening to it very much.
I would love to hear more episodes on your lessons planning process, as well as some details on how your typical lesson goes. Also, if you could make an episode on some recommendations of what the best books on music pedagogy are , that would be awesome!

amychaplinpiano ,

Astute, Well-Written, Enjoyable

Ashley does a great job clearly communicating the content of each episode. She is a well-versed educator who often uses research to support her epiosde content. I appreciate her articulate writing and professional approach to teaching.

Caitrin Anderson ,

Short and sweet teacher tips

These episodes are power-packed little gems! Always well thought and clearly expressed. Ashley is an inspiration and blessing!

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