Laurisa W. Cope, NCTM
Why UMTA? UMTA has and will continue to play a pivotal role in my development as I strive for excellence in my teaching. I have been reading a book by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool titled, “PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.” Drs. Ericsson and Pool point out that the process to learn a skill is basically the same for all skills, including playing an instrument. We decide on a skill we wish to learn, seek out instruction for the skill from a teacher, a book, or a website. We practice until we reach an acceptable level of competency and then allow the skill to become automatic. It is generally assumed that once the “automatic” level is reached, that as a person continues to do this skill, her ability will improve. However, research indicates this is not the case. Doing a skill over and over is not enough to keep the skill from deteriorating over time. A skill will decrease unless an individual employs a system of deliberate practice.
What are the implications of this message for me as a music teacher? I have realized how vital it is for me to find ways to deliberately practice and to learn from expert teachers in order to keep my teaching and performing skills growing. To put it in musical terms – I must continuously and purposefully augment my skills, or they will diminish. UMTA gave me the chance to augment my skills by going through the process to become a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM). During this past year, I have learned too many skills and ideas to list them all. Here are just a few ways my teaching skills have grown as a member of UMTA this year:
- I implemented new ideas to teach composition that I learned from Jan Judd at a Heber Valley chapter meeting.
- I learned a new way to teach rubato using taffy from the BYU Collegiate Chapter.
- I was inspired to find more time to practice as I listened to Tiffany Delgado and Hilary Mauler perform at the national MTNA-Stecher and Horowitz Two Piano Competition, where they won 3rd place. I was even more inspired when I found out both of them are mothers of young children, and Tiffany had a baby just a few months before performing on the national stage!
- I have worked on being more positive with my own children in their music studies after hearing Debbie Moench’s presentation, “The Power of Positive Teaching” at the UMTA State Conference.
Why UMTA? I am a member of UMTA because my membership helps me to achieve the skills, knowledge, and goals I need to keep growing as a teacher and performer. I express my thanks to the current members of UMTA for their dedication to music teaching, and I extend an invitation to all music teachers to come join with us and experience the difference membership in UMTA can make!