Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bill Cowher's Piano Lessons

A colleague of mine forwarded me an article by Frank Fitzpatrick, a Philadelphia Inquire Staff Writer, about former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and current CBS - NFL analyst Bill Cowher.

The article is attached to the sports page as you might imagine, but the title was intriguing, 'Bill Cowher's Piano Lessons'
. Most of the article talks about Bill's life after football, his gruff exterior, 'defiant under-bite' and jutting jaw; a sharp contrast to someone playing chord progressions at the piano (in most cases!).

But Cowher says 'It's something I really enjoy' admitting... 'One of my daughters played the piano...and I'd be thinking, 'How neat. Wouldn't it be great to be able to do something like that?'

I wish all adults had this kind of attitude about studying music and I wish music educators would work more on promoting our craft to this market rather than dumping all of their eggs into the El-Hi world of academia. At DSM, we find adult students to be an amazingly rewarding group with which to work. And the profession as a whole would do well to address this largely untapped resource of new and willing learners.

So we congratulate Bill on his decision to learn piano and encourage him to keep at it until he reaches his goal
'to get good enough where I can put out a tip jar'.

Don't forget to enjoy the journey too Bill!

Click here to read the full story
. And special thanks to Frank Fitzpatrick for allowing me to post this article.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Teacher of the Future

I've read a number of postings lately that tout programs like Skype and EJamming as having music education related applications. It's easy to see that there will be a day in the not too distant future when playing a live real-time duet with a student half a world away is as easy as a making a cell call. The technology, if not already available, is coming fast and the teacher of the future needs to adopt these applications and let only their imagination dictate the possibilities!

Here in our own neck of the woods, we have always had a penchant for t
echnology. The offices at DSM and are well equipped with up to date computers, a state of the art client database management system called GoldMine, high speed internet connections and a slew of other software... both business and music related. On any given day you might see our staff using programs like Band in a Box, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Flash, Ableton Live or WebQuiz to name just a few. And of course, all of our staff members use MusickEd software as the core curriculum in their teaching.

This willingness to adopt new technology has served us well over the years. Just about every component of our software has been designed and produced 'in-house' and it's imperative that each new staff member be willing to step out of their 'comfort zone' and learn new skills.

With that we introduce Carolyn Keyes. Carolyn joined our team in 2008 while attending the University of North Texas as a grad student. Aside from being a great educator (her students loved her!) and an accomplished flutist, Carolyn showed a willingness to get out of her comfort zone and tackle the arduous task of overseeing the conversion of our software from the Discovery Series to the new (and improved!) Kore Series.

Carolyn continues to work on this project remotely from her new location in Colorado (another part of the vision coming to pass!)
. I asked her where she set up shop, how she's managing the work and what's new in her life since leaving the Texas heat for the cool mountains of Boulder:

Where did you finally set up shop?

Right now I'm living in Westminster, Colorado and commuting up to Boulder for classes. I work from a laptop so I can work any time and any place I need to. I will work on the couch while the fiance is watching football or out on my porch. My favorite spots are in the back corner of the music library and in the campus cafe where no one I know can distract me. Sometimes I work in the school of music lounge known as the 'vortex"' - but that doesn't usually go very well.

What else have you been up to out there?

I just got engaged and we are both starting our Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMAs) at the University of Colorado Boulder. I am playing in the orchestra, teaching freshman for my assistant-ship, and taking classes. It's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding. I guess you could say I'm a musician who moonlights in computers!

How is the software conversion coming along?

We're just finishing up the first lesson in the conversion to the Kore Series. I was feeling pretty good about how quickly we were working until I did the math for 20 Lessons and realized how long it would be until we finished all of the them. There are a lot of people working on this project back at DSM (not to mention those developing the Jazz series).

Who is helping you with this project?

Some of the new adjunct staff at DSM are editing my work to catch any mistakes as well as working on other components needed to launch the new look. I am in charge of actually completing the conversion with the help and guidance of the boss, Bob Lawrence.

Any snags?

We found out that when Bob and I have the same file open, it will 'lock' me out by beeping and denying me access until he closes it. Otherwise the process has been fairly smooth and that's a testament to the fantastic infrastructure already in place back at DSM and MusickEd.

I think Carolyn deserves our posterus magister award (that translates to 'teacher of the future') for her ability to utilize her skills, adapt to new ideas and think outside the box. Keep up the good work and congratulations!