Are then Christianity and culture in a conflict that is to be settled only by the destruction of one or the other of the contending forces? A third solution fortunately, is possible–namely, consecration. Instead of destroying the arts and sciences or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the veriest humanist, but at the same time consecrate them to the service of our God. Instead of stifling the pleasures afforded by the acquisition of knowledge or by the appreciation of what is beautiful, let us accept these pleasures as the gifts of a heavenly Father. Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”
~J. Gresham Machen
One of my primary desires for each student is that they will not only become excellent musicians, but that they will use music as a vehicle to share the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. This is my motivation for teaching and for the way that I run Natalie’s Piano Studio. Here are some key aspects of the studio environment:
- Family friendly – sibling lessons are always scheduled back-to-back, and parents and other siblings are encouraged to sit quietly and observe lessons. Feedback from parents is always welcome!
- Age-integrated group classes – instead of splitting students up by age or level, I plan most group events for a wide variety of ages. This allows all siblings to attend together, making it much more convenient for families! Age-integrated classes also help older students develop leadership skills and encourages them to be positive role models. The younger students love interacting with the older ones and are inspired to continue studying music and advancing as musicians.
- Biblically-centered camps – considerable planning goes into a week-long piano camp! Inspiration usually comes from my personal Bible study and time spent reading other works by Christian philosophers, missionaries, and educators. We begin group classes and camps with prayer, and learn biblical principles that relate to music and using it to make a difference in the world.
- Character-focused teaching – instead of praising or correcting only for achievement or lack thereof, I try to identify the root character qualities that underlie a student’s progress from week to week. Instead of presenting vague expectations of using better dynamics, articulations, etc., I point out very specific elements and tie it to the student’s character (e.g. “Wow! I really appreciate how attentive you were to the staccatos here in measure 4. Every one of those notes was so crisp-sounding!”). Other specific character qualities might include: diligence in consistently playing one thing correctly, or perseverance in trying repeatedly until they mastered a difficult concept, or sensitivity in bringing out a different mood at one particular place. The point is that character is transferable, but achievement is not.