Robert Pace and Comprehensive Musicianship

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Robert Pace peer teaching

One of Robert Pace’s special gifts was his ability to inspire students to learn by continuously searching out connections between one thing and another.  In his approach to piano instruction, he: 

  • Integrated the teaching of repertoire with the teaching of theory, improvisation, technique, sightreading, multiple tonalities, and musically sensitive performance
  • Coordinated the learning experiences of a diversity of students, teaching many at one time
  • Perceived the possibilities for teaching students in interactive peer-teaching groups, instead of as monolithic classes, 
  • Tied peer teaching with conceptual learning 
  • Along with his own ideas, creatively adapted for piano teaching, the philosophies of Jerome Bruner, Howard Gardner, Abraham Maslow, and many other learning theorists, neurologists, and thinkers
Group teaching collage

His conversation often contained some form of the word “multi”— “multi-key,” “multi-level,” “multi-purpose,” and onward. “Multi-facetedness” was a hallmark of his teaching philosophy, itself, a reservoir of many elements, all very much interrelated.

Pace’s pedagogical insights each could have stood alone as a significant chapter in music teaching. Instead, however, he focused, further, on coordinating all of these elements so that they could be taught together as mutually reinforcing ingredients of musicianship. 

Comprehensive Musicianship: Robert Pace’s unified curriculum built on peer teaching, conceptual learning, inter-related repertoire, technique, multiple tonalities, creative activities, theory, analysis, musicianship, and a range of learning theory was what he called “Comprehensive Musicianship.”            

- Cynthia Pace -

(Adapted from MTNA Presentation, “Robert Pace, Dynamic Music Educator,” by Cynthia Pace, March 2011)

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