Key players
Piano lessons are about more than music

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 07/00) - When Janet Troje instructs her students in piano, she wants them to discover the different elements of music.

"I always try and get them to find the music," says Troje, one of Iqaluit's only full-time piano instructors.

"Playing correctly and playing music are two different things -- I want them to engage in the music."

Troje sees many students each week in whom she tries to instill a solid foundation for piano -- her pupils range in age from four years old right up to those in their 70s.

"It probably takes between six to eight years of study to develop a solid foundation.

"I feel that when you're learning to play an instrument you have to learn to practice -- I want to inspire my students to want to practice."

She says learning to make music is a physical, emotional and intellectual commitment and Troje believes there are a few things that will help pupils along in their quest to tickle the 88 keys of ebony and ivory.

"There are a few things that are expected every lesson -- they have to sit properly and always have rounded hands, they have to focus on the music and be relaxed.

"These things are absolutely essential to developing good technique," she says.

A typical lesson involves having the student play a piece they enjoyed practising the most during the week and looking at different aspects of theory.

"Through theory I can show them how music is composed and they're certainly capable of learning that," says Troje.

When new material is assigned, Troje is sure to go through all aspects of a piece before the student leaves her place.

"By the time they leave the lesson they are pretty much playing the song.

"But what you really want is for a student to work on bits of a piece until they can put it all together -- playing a piece all the way through is really a reward."

Practising slowly is also key in learning to play the instrument that Troje says has a built-in loneliness to it.

"I always encourage my students to play with others and to play in the schools.

"It's a means of getting the students together and listening to each other -- every month I hold musicals at my place and about twice a year we have recitals."