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RIAM Teaching & Learning Network Annual Conference

A blog post by Ciarán McManus.

As a piano teacher and RIAM examiner, I am deeply immersed in the instrumental education world in Ireland, and I believe that attending conferences like the annual RIAM Teaching and Learning Network conference is vital to help you grow as a teacher, and in turn your students will become even better musicians.

My experience at the conference last year was wholly positive and fun. I gathered valuable information from the country’s top figures in piano teaching, including: RIAM Senior Professor, Thérèse Fahy with a passionate session on Debussy’s piano music; Colma Brioscú, Head of Keyboard Faculty at the RIAM, who talked us through useful repertoire for recital certificates and competitions; and Conor Linehan, who brought us on a quick tour of the often misconceived world of contemporary music, as he opened our eyes and ears to some beautiful contemporary pieces (Yes! It is possible).

Not only was there a focus on piano techniques and repertoire choices, but there were also some other great sessions that help teachers to work towards cultivating well rounded musicians. There were talks by all three of the RIAM Senior Music Examiners, Majella Boland, Loran Horan and Jennifer O’Connor-Madsen (who is also the driving force behind the RIAM T&L Network!), in the respective areas of musicianship in instrumental teaching, current graded piano repertoire, and the use of technology for teaching.

There were also sessions on group activities and singing, which, as a budding conductor for a local secondary school choir, I found extremely beneficial. A highlight of the conference, for me, was the session on pre-instrumental music by Amy Ryan. As a co-director of a local music school, I was interested in this session before it started, as I am hoping to start a pre-instrumental course in the near future and I intended to gather some ideas and information from the talk. It didn’t quite turn out as a talk, but more as an interactive masterclass where a room full of grown-up teachers was transformed into a room of giddy toddlers singing and dancing to very, very, very catchy rhymes to help develop their sense of pulse, rhythm, and pitch. In the end, we all did very well! (Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!)

The closing address by the Director of the Academy, Deborah Kelleher, inspired us to keep going, get organised, and do the best job we can, while at the same time keeping a healthy balance of traditional teaching principles and 21st century methods and technology.

I would encourage all instrumental teachers to utilise the RIAM T&L Network and make the best of having ‘online’ colleagues with whom they can converse and relate. The conference, which is just one of many events by the RIAM, is an opportunity to meet people face-to-face and to refresh and add to your skill-set. And it is far from boring! It is interactive; it is fun; it is social; and with all of that, it is useful!

The 2017 RIAM Teaching & Learning Network Conference takes place on the 29-30 June in the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the theme is Thinking Outside the Box: The 21st Century Music Teacher's Toolkit.

Book your place now!

Ciaran McManus

Ciarán McManus, BA (Hons), ARIAM, MA (Mus) (Open), is a piano teacher, part-time choral director, and a music examiner for the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Having completed a degree in Solo Classical Performance on Piano at Dundalk Institute of Technology (2009), Ciarán went on to achieve an Associate Diploma in Piano Teaching from the RIAM (2010), and he later received a Masters in Musicology from the Open University in the UK (2015).

1 comment

  • Comment Link Una %AM, %13 %480 %2017 %10:%Jun posted by Una

    Is the conference taking place during the day? What times? Is it possible to come in the evening only? Is it possible to "buy" the notes/discussions? Many thanks. Una


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