As the long time director of Music in Chappaqua, Janet Angier’s approach is one of nurturing students and unleashing the creative eager to surface in every budding musician.
At Music in Chappaqua, that is accomplished in a safe, non judgmental environment. Imparting the rudiments of music and exploring avenues to musical enrichment do not have to rely on memorization and forced instruction, she insists. As such, Angier has cultivated the concept of teaching through a freer and more passive route to musical enlightenment.
“What I’ve seen in public schools and in the many generations that have passed through my teaching and school is that the way music is often taught through the written page, works for some, but not all,” Angier explains. She envisions one day articulating her alternative methodology to public school music teachers and hoping that they will embrace it as fervently as she has.
Accentuating the positive, rewarding successes along the way, and reveling in the joy of creating music supersedes traditional study for many and is their preferred route to fluency, she says. “I’d like an approach where the intellectual level is reduced and the ‘feeling’ is more embraced,” she adds. Allowing students to choose a few chords and give them a rhythm to play with can set them on the road to understanding and improvised creativity. “It’s instant gratification,” she adds.
Angier’s own visits to Nashville have confirmed her observations: “I’ve seen how they teach bluegrass and the same applies in such things as African drumming circles. The non-Western approaches are very successful, and socially based, rather than intellectually based. This could be very gratifying” if offered as an alternative in the regular public school music curriculum, she feels. Angier champions the idea of students relying on self-expression early on in their study, rather than waiting years for their teacher to say “Add expression.”
“In teaching, it’s important to notice the good things: What you see and what you focus on is what develops. If you notice what the student is doing right, they’ll notice that as well, and it will grow. I encourage everyone to see the good, and not to focus on the things that are not.”
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