MIE Portfolio Showcase: A Piano Pedagogy Internship Portfolio

Laura Umbro’s portfolio exhibits are excerpts from her Music-in-Education Cumulative Portfolio required for earning the MIE Concentration from New England Conservatory as a Performance major. Her portfolio was given exemplary portfolio status because of its thorough documenation of her work and its relevance to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards of portfolio content coded into NEC’s digital portfolio assessment system.

These portfolio excerpts will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal for Music-In-Education, and are being featured here in our first installment of the MIE Portfolio Showcase.

–Randy Wong,
MIE Program Coordinator

  • Download this MIE Portfolio Showcase exhibit (PDF file, 744 Kb)
  • 3 thoughts on “MIE Portfolio Showcase: A Piano Pedagogy Internship Portfolio”

    1. What I found particularly interesting was the reflection that Laura engaged in with regard to the level of instruction she should give to her student. How much is too much? – at which point do we as teachers just have to let go and “trust” our students?

      This is something that I think all teachers in the creative arts wrestle with. This issue about the ethics of instruction / intervention / interference by the teacher was something we recently discussed in (my Arts in Education) class with a visiting speaker, teacher and researcher Michael Armstrong.

      I think it is idealistic of us to say that a teacher should completely step back and let children create music (or any other art) entirely on their own. Our instruction provides children with stimuli, alternative approaches, standards to benchmark themselves again, ways to achieve desired effects, etc. What Armstrong emphasised was not so much whether teachers should intervene when teaching technical skills but how they intervene. And they should do so in a way that offers options to children. The child should always have the final say as to what is “right” for the art they are creating and there should be no coersion.

      Based on the transcript provided, I feel that the balance is being struck, for example when Laura asks the student to try different variations (e.g. forte, dolce etc.). Perhaps even more choice can be given to the student. More of their own opinions could be surfaced before the teacher praises the student. Praise is very powerful in terms of boosting a child’s self-esteem but it can also be a form of imposition of direction.

    2. I found this portfolio to be very insightful and particularly relevant to the teaching I have engaged in. I was especially interested to read the written reflection about finding the balance between teaching for technique and musicality. This is something I have grappled with, especially working with younger students. In considering this I feel it is important to keep the goals of the individual student in mind, and not to impose outside expectations on the child. At the same time, it is also important to keep the student challenged and striving for their best creative work.

      The side by side teacher and student evaluations of the lesson were also a wonderful way to document parts of the learning process. I wonder how often these post-lesson reflections are used. Every week, monthly?

      I was also curious about the coding of the transcriptions. How were the categories decided?

    3. Reading Laura’s portfolio, I was brought back to my preschool days when I took piano lessons once a week at my teacher’s house. At 5 years of age, I honestly had no idea what I was doing, although I was actually doing so much, including learning the basics of music theory, playing in recitals, and most importantly, opening myself to embrace the power of music in my life. I think back to my teacher’s teaching methods and how she tried to make things “fun” for me, while at the same time making sure that I fully understood the basic concepts.
      Another idea that resonates with me is that of emphasizing both technicality as well as musical expression. Although I truly appreciate the beauty of musical expression as that is what creates individuality and uniqueness, I am constantly brought back to the fact that technical proficiency is very often required in order for the artist to be able channel his/her musical expression forward. It is something that I indeed find myself struggling with, in music as well as dance.

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