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Urbandale May 2015 Teacher Feature: Jiamin Liao
By West Music Company
5/1/2015 3:20:00 PM
I currently teach Group Piano at the University of Northern Iowa, Waterloo (and surrounding) Community Schools, and teach privately through the Community Music School on the UNI campus. I am very excited to join the Faculty at West Music-Urbandale.

When I was a child, my mom played the piano. I was so captivated by the sound of the piano that my Dad decided to let me have a try. So, I was sent to a local piano instructor at the age of five, and I have never stopped playing since then.

Formal Education:
2012 – 2014 Master of Piano Performance and Pedagogy, The University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa
2009 – 2012 Bachelor of Music Studies (Majoring in piano), The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

I am a member of DMMTA (Des Moines Music Teachers Association), IMTA (Iowa Music Teachers Association) and the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association).

In September, I performed a duet at the University of Northern Iowa for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. The piece I played was Castle in the Sky, by Joe Hisaishi, and my partner was a graduate student major in violin performance at UNI. This performance was an entirely different experience from my usual gigs or recitals. The piece was easier to play, and the performance was less formal. Yet, the joyful experience we were able to bring the audience was not any less than any of the formal concerts I have performed at. This performance particularly reminded me the role of a pianist; after all the hard work and time spent on improving the techniques and the skills, we musicians play to please and to share the spirit of each music with the audience.

I enjoy watching movies (horror, action and comedy) and TV shows like Supernatural, singing and listening to music; I am a big fan of Iowa Public Radio Classical!

This past June, I gave a presentation with my colleague at the Minnesota Music Teachers Association. The presentation was about the service learning project we started together in September 2013. The project aimed to provide a musical experience by offering free piano lessons twice a week to local elementary school students. This project exposed me to a new experience of teaching younger students in group settings, and I learned that working in such circumstances is not only about teaching piano but also about coping with the students' behaviors. The presentation offered us a great opportunity to share this experience with other music teachers.

Teaching is like an experiment,as we are all different. Some strategies may be effective for some students but not for the others. As a piano teacher, I enjoy the process of discovering the best strategies and designing individualized lesson plans for each student. I feel pleasant and satisfied when I am able to help my students achieve effective outcomes.

My graduate recital must be the most interesting and educational experience I have had recently. My usual approach to stage fright was to prepare well before-hand and then concentrate on the music during the performance. However, I have never had any good solutions dealing with the fright occurred on stage; when I had a memory slip or made a mistake during the piece, I tended to become nervous immediately. I finally discussed this issue with my piano teacher, and he suggested me the following:

When we have a memory slip or make a mistake on stage, we may feel like there is a 'guy' blaming us or laughing at us. Well, tell that guy that you will talk to him later, but for now you want to concentrate on the music.

So, I practiced this "let go" attitude besides the instrument before the recital, and the result was great. I made a few small mistakes on stage, but the process went so smooth that most of the audience did not realize that I repeated or skipped a few notes. Since then I have also been incorporating this approach into teaching my students. This approach keeps me and my students reminded that while we are on stage, the notes we just played, good or bad, are gone forever. The only thing that matters is to do our best to play well the rest of the piece.

Tags: jiamin liao, urbandale piano gallery, DMMTA, Des Moines Music Teachers Association, IMTA, Iowa Music Teachers Association, MTNA, Music Teachers National Association. iowa public radio classical
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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