BE CURIOUS AND PLAY
Houston Piano Company believes that children who study piano are better equipped mentally for challenges in school, and can apply this knowledge to other activities in their lives. Adults who learn to play the piano simply live happier.
WHAT IS RECREATIONAL MUSIC MAKING?
It's NOT about inspiring extraordinary music-making.
It's about inspiring extraordinary living.
It's NOT about exceptional performance.
It's about exceptional support and personal experience.
It's NOT about teaching people to play.
It's about giving people permission to play.
Its best facilitators are NOT just talented musicians.
They are caring, compassionate and intuitive guides.From RMM’s Philosophy [ 1 ]
Recreational Music Making has its roots from the early work of Karl T. Bruhn, who is considered the father of the Music-Making and Wellness movement, and scientific research from neurologist in the field of mind-body medicine Dr. Barry Bittman, whose studies on music, particularly drum circles, demonstrated a link between playing music and the positive effects on one’s overall health—lowering stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Through their work they determined that playing music within the context of a group—in a pressure-free environment—could reduce stress at the DNA level. But Bruhn also felt that music making was for all people, not just limited to churning out professional musicians: "it’s about inspiring extraordinary living." [ 3 ]
According to Bruhn 'Recreational music making (RMM) encompasses enjoyable, accessible and fulfilling group music-based activities that unite people of all ages regardless of their challenges, backgrounds, ethnicity, ability or prior experience. From exercise, nurturing, social support, bonding and spirituality, to intellectual stimulation, heightened understanding and enhanced capacity to cope with life’s challenges, the benefits of RMM extend far beyond music. RMM ultimately affords unparalleled creative expression that unites our bodies, minds and spirits.'Yamaha Institute [ 4 ]
In 2006, National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, sponsored a Global Economic Summit where Bruhn and Bittman gave a presentation on RMM, defining it as: "a new strategy for enabling people who never before considered themselves ‘musical’ to discover the joy and wellness benefits of playing a musical instrument." [ 5 ]
This philosophy resonated deeply for a piano teacher from Texas, Brenda Dillon, who attended the Summit. She has said, the "presentation [which later] proved to be life-changing for me personally." [ 6 ]
As an experiment, she began teaching using the RMM model and found that she "never had so much fun teaching in all my life." [ 7 ] Shortly thereafter, she was able to formalize a teaching methodology that incorporated her many years of teaching with the RMM method of group classes. She first collaborated with Brian Chung and developed a handbook for teachers, then created Piano Fun for Adult Beginners on her own.
The unique format of RMM is its emphasis on group lessons. The students, with the assistance of the facilitator (teacher), help to encourage one other, while developing camaraderie in a stress-free environment--where music is learned for its own sake.
a. Reduce stress.
b. Help develop social skills.
c. Help to develop strategies to deal with stage fright.
d. Help to learn ensemble play.
e. Create friendly competition.
f. Encourage students to learn from each other.
g. Engage students through the use of activities and games.
h. Be less expensive than private lessons.
i. Help with motivation.
Although RMM was initially motivated by medicinal purposes the use of group lessons actually has a firm and solid academic beginning in the work of four American pioneers of the 20th century in piano pedagogy—Frances Clark, Ph.D (1905 – 1998), Guy Duckworth, Ph.D. (1923 – 2015), Robert Pace (b. 1924), Ph.D and Richard Chronister (1930 – 1999).
Frances Clark: "I have been interested in group teaching for a long time (40 years!). My belief in it and enthusiasm for it increase each year. A group method is a natural way to teach any subject, and it is possible to apply group teaching techniques most artfully and effectively to piano teaching..." from Practical Piano Pedagogy: The Definitive Text for Piano Teachers and Pedagogy Students by Martha Baker-Jordan [ 8 ]
Guy Duckworth: "[In groups, he] chooses his own methods, explores the material, makes his own solutions to problems. There are more chances for individuality when there are no hard and fast rights and wrongs."from "Piano Should Be Fun, Teacher Says" in The Milwaukee Journal by Jean Otto [ 9 ]
Richard Chronister: "There is no activity in the piano lesson that isn’t made more important, more interesting, more educational, and more musical by making it a group activity."from "The Challenge of Group Teaching", in Clavier 15, No. 7 [ 10 ]
Robert Pace: "Through peer interaction in groups, teachers get feed-back on what students are actually comprehending…  Students grow by helping each other as they learn how to make direct, positive, and thoughtful criticism. Students come in contact with more musical literature in group instruction, and have a greater incentive to be well prepared. Peer approval as a member of a group is a powerful incentive to 'keep going' and not dropout."from "Artist/Educator Archive Interview" in PianoEducation.org by Dr. John Zeigler [ 11 ]
It takes time and patience to learn the piano. And it's the learning itself that makes it worthwhile.