TTTV046: Teaching Creatively with Elena Cobb - Creative Music Education
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TTTV046: Teaching Creatively with Elena Cobb

By Tim Topham | Creativity

Jun 18

creative teaching elena cobb

Elena Cobb didn’t start out teaching creatively. When she began teaching in U.K. she came across lots of students who wanted to “play for fun”. This was a bit of a foreign concept to Elena, having grown up with very serious classical music studies. She went on a hunt for fun repertoire for her students, and gradually started to compose her own.

Elena Cobb

When she saw the ABRSM jazz syllabus she was inspired to incorporate some improvising into her teaching as well. As she started to explore improvisation more, the tunes started to flow and Higgledy Piggledy Jazz was born.

The Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book has helped to get so many students started with improvisation, and I’m so excited to get Elena’s thoughts on teaching creatively in today’s interview.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Elena wrote the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz books
  • How to get students improvising in a no pressure way
  • What students often really mean when they ask to play jazz piano
  • How to make jazz less intimidating to classically trained students
  • Why you need to understand that in jazz you don’t need to change every note
  • How to get started with just one note and a great rhythm
  • How teaching creatively can take just 5 minutes of lesson time
  • Why backing tracks are so valuable to get students really listening
  • How Elena grew from a self-published author to a publisher of other composers

Items mentioned in this podcast:

Thank you for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.

Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.

Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons on the left of the page.

Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes. Reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to show’s ranking and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally.

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Do you take a few minutes of every lesson to improvise?

Is teaching creatively a regular part of your lesson time? Have you used any of Elena’s resources to open up your students to improvisation?

What’s your favourite introduction to improvisation for beginning students?

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About the Author

Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at timtopham.com and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.