Elizabeth MacIsaac has taught piano privately for over 30 years, in Victoria, in Mill Bay and in Paris.
She graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria in 1984, and undertook two years of graduate study in Musicology with a specific interest in the works of Franz Liszt. Elizabeth holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington.
Piano Teaching Philosophy (click to read)
Studio Voice Teaching Philosophy
Singing emerges from rich resonance generated from a solid breath support and correct posture. The best singing occurs when the vocalist feels physical and psychological well-being and is alert. The art of teaching voice may sometimes be experienced as a mysterious black art, but while there is mystery behind great and beautiful singing, part of the source lies in discipline and training: guided physical,technical and artistic work. Each developing singer's needs are unique and so the work with each student varies tremendously. As well, the since the student has an active role in the discovery of the voice, he/she is to a degree his own teacher.
My singing career has been invaluable to my teaching philosophy. Curiosity about the challenges I have encountered on my own musical path has sparked a strong interest assisting this process with my students. My approach includes both concrete experience and intuition. The best teaching employs a vast array of styles and concepts, to list only a few:
- Imparting a good practical understanding of what the body does and does not need to do to create healthy sound
- So much in singing relies upon effective breath support.
- Understanding resonance
- Vocal onsets
- Vowel balancing
- Developing access to both upper and lower registers, and unifying them successfully
- Use of imagery
- Expression of the text, articulation and pronunciation, emotional connection, body and face expressivity
Preferred teaching and coaching repertoire includes all forms of Early Music, Folk Music, Lieder, French, Italian, Spanish and English Art Song, Oratorio and Musical Theatre, Opera from Monteverdi to Mozart and Contemporary Avant-Garde Music including Extended Techniques.
Rather unique to my teaching approach is the combination of traditional voice work with the addition of lesser known vocalizing to teach various techniques (such as breath support): for example, chants from various sources (Medieval, Scandinavian), overtoning, drones, use of modes, clusters and canons
I am honored to say that many of my students have gone on to further studies at the university level and have continued to make solo performing a significant part of their lives.
As children, we draw, sang and danced without self consciousness. Its this place we need to return to in our hearts, to the creative, natural child in each of us.
Private Piano Studio Teaching Philosophy
My pedagogical approach uses technique and repertoire in tandem to develop an energetic and dynamic, yet relaxed physical approach to mastering the instrument. Invention is part of learning the piano, since it the piano is such an harmonic instrument and tremendously useful for discovering how music is created.
The students are encouraged to learn to improvise and to invent their own pieces along the way, related to technical, harmonic and structural concepts being introduced along the way. Depending on the individual, these are often developed into full-blown compositions which the student then performs. I have several students who are budding composers.
I enjoy making technique interesting for the student: again, connecting it to the repertoire is key.
I encourage my students to perform several times a year, enter them in festival, in recital and in exams.
I ask my students to attend concerts as much as possible and to listen to classical and jazz music at home.
On the more imaginative level, I find that creating stories to go with the absolute music, use of imagery (a film or dramatic story), evocation of all types, imagining instruments playing the music, exploring textures and sonorities, and the use of one's singing voice to demonstrate cantabile…these are a few of the tools that I use to explain my own teaching process. The possibilities are endless, and they come not only from my bag of tricks, but from the students' own creative imagination.
Especially with the young pianist, the imagination is perhaps the richest resource here, because then learners own their own musical experience. The teacher is there to facilitate, to draw out and to mentor, as well as to help structure the learning process.