WHAT, WHY, HOW
What we do:
At 88 Creative Keys professional development workshops, piano teachers learn to improvise, use technology, lead off-bench activities, direct group teaching and acquire updated business skills with today's leading pedagogues. Unlike larger music education conferences, our workshops are limited to a small group of participants in order to maximize individual attention.
88 Creative Keys was founded by Bradley Sowash and Leila Viss to help classically-trained pianists play and teach more creatively. Using studio-tested teaching techniques and recent advances in teaching technology, we have been opening the door to “off page” creativity and “off bench” creative teaching in workshops and online clinics since 2013.
Why we do what we do:
For too long, traditional piano lessons have felt stuck in an increasingly outdated model. Working with students one at a time and using only paper, pencil, and a metronome, the teacher’s primary role has been to correct reading “mistakes” in a musical diet that is often limited to method books, classical repertory and perhaps the occasional “popular” arrangement. For today’s plugged-in students, it feels, at best, out-of-step with their musical tastes, learning styles, and desire for self-expression. At worst, they see it as simply irrelevant. In the words of Pete Jutras, editor of Clavier Companion, “Whether we like it or not, kids are not going to travel back in time just for piano lessons and suddenly pretend they live in the eighteenth century!”
However, change is in the air. Many forward-thinking teachers have acknowledged a desire to teach in new ways but, lacking non-traditional training, are unsure how to proceed. That’s where 88 Creative Keys comes in. We teach teachers to improvised, integrate technology, lead off-bench activities, direct group teaching, and acquire updated business skills with today’s leading pedagogues.
Our manner may be modest but our goal is big… We are updating piano education one like-minded teacher at a time with a new model that balances reading with improvisation, solo performance with group playing, fingers-on-the-keys practice with off-bench hands-on learning, traditional theory with pop/jazz chord symbols, and classical repertory with contemporary styles. We want tomorrow’s pianists to be equally capable of performing detailed written music or improvising in a jazz ensemble, contemporary worship team, or pop band because their teachers have learned to address comprehensive musicianship.
How we do it:
Participants benefit by learning through two different perspectives. Bradley Sowash is a jazz-trained creative pianist, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, author, composer, and educator specializing in improvisation who also speaks the language of traditional piano pedagogy. Leila Viss is a classically-trained pianist, organist and innovative owner of a tech-savvy, creative-based piano studio who has also learned to arrange and improvise. Both are passionate about helping pianists to play and teach more creatively.