A more creative and individual approach to teaching children music is being practiced in Auckland by respected New Zealand pianist, Ludwig Treviranus.
Last year Ludwig was invited to join the staff of the privately-owned Albany School of Music.
“Being in Albany, there is a nice mix of cultures among students and many are from Asian countries where parents strongly value their children learning an instrument,” Ludwig says. “Some start lessons as young as three years old.”
Upper Hutt-raised Ludwig, has a doctorate in music from Florida State University and has long believed learning an instrument builds a child’s confidence and creativity. He has a personal aim of fostering a life-long love of music in his students so they will not only enjoy playing but keep it up through their busy college years and into adult life.
He often draws on the Suzuki method his own piano teachers used more than 20 years ago rather than the more traditional style of teaching.
Japanese-born, Shinichi Suzuki, believed every child is born with remarkable potential and, given stimulating musical surroundings and excellent training, he or she can learn to play an instrument just as naturally as learning a language.
He encouraged children to start learning an instrument younger than usual, to play initially by sound rather than music and encouraged parents to participate in lessons and home practice.
What makes a student tick?
Ludwig draws on Suzuki’s philosophy and also makes a point of discovering what makes each student tick.
It’s important to get to know the student’s personality and their interests outside music. This understanding helps shape my style of teaching, catering toward their individual needs. As a result, our bond is strengthened and the weekly lesson is both fresh and challenging.’’
He says that this kind of approach is more effective for the child’s learning and enjoyment of music making and strengthens the relationship with the parent.
The Albany School of Music and Remuera Music Academy were founded by flautist Grace Liu and now have more than 400 students who attend weekly lessons after school.
They teach performance, music language (theory and musicianship) and the instruments include piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, clarinet, flute and voice.
In the Asian culture, learning an instrument and studying music is encouraged and highly valued. Working in an environment in which young students and families can form their own musical community is both exciting and inspiring,” Ludwig says.
This enthusiasm toward music could be likened to the passion Kiwis have to enrol their children in weekend sport, he says.
Born into a musical family
Ludwig, named after a king of Bavaria, grew up in Upper Hutt and was born into a family who enjoyed singing at home, at social occasions and in church. His father is a German Samoan and his mother Samoan.
When his great-grandmother sent the family piano out from Germany Ludwig took a shine to it and began lessons in Upper Hutt with Helen Kapma when he was five years old.
At 11, he started at Hutt International Boys’ School and moved music teacher to Gillian Bibby in Wellington.
He completed his Master’s degree at the University of Auckland under Dr Rae de Lisle.
This was followed by doctoral studies at Florida State University under Dr Read Gainsford.
After returning home he developed an interactive workshop entitled At Ease with Music, making classical music accessible through live performance, imagery and audience participation. This was presented to schools around the Wellington region and performed at Expressions in Upper Hutt.
Since 2013, Ludwig taught privately in Upper Hutt and at the Young Musicians Programme at Victoria University in Wellington.
Last year he took a call from Dr Rae de Lisle, now head of the piano department at the Albany School of Music, to ask if he would be interested in full-time work as the assistant piano programme co-ordinator and co-ordinator of the Music Language Department at the school. So, he took the plunge and made the move.
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