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Only the Best

December 10, 2013

Happy holidays.  I can’t believe Thanksgiving has come and gone with Christmas right around the corner.  Although it’s a busy time of year, I’m assuming you have a moment to browse our website.  If not, perhaps you are reading this and other postings after the holidays.  Just in case, let me say, “Happy New Year!”


In my first blog, I explained that writing two or three paragraphs would not suffice.  There was no doubt about it.  I had to write a series of blogs to highlight the many achievements of Frances Clark and Louise Goss.  First, I reviewed their background, and for the last few weeks, I have offered information about The Frances Clark Library for Piano Students.  I thought it was important for you to know how far Miss Clark’s method of teaching deviated from standard practice.  With an overview of the Clark Library completed, I need to turn back the clock again and focus on what else made Frances Clark and Louise Goss pioneers in the field of piano pedagogy.


When Frances Clark joined the faculty at Kalamazoo College in 1945 to develop the first four-year teacher-training program, she designed a comprehensive curriculum. In addition to classroom instruction, the new pedagogy program at Kalamazoo included a teaching internship.  To facilitate teacher training, Miss Clark organized a preparatory department, and pedagogy students were responsible for teaching several pupils in order to gain experience.   In her opinion, teachers as well as piano students should “learn by doing,” a course requirement that other schools did not provide.  Louise Goss, who helped Frances Clark prepare the ABC Papers in her senior year, also worked with Miss Clark as an associate by observing lessons and giving feedback for improvement.


After Louise Goss graduated from Kalamazoo and returned from The University of Michigan to collaborate in writing the Clark piano course, she then joined Frances Clark in a new endeavor.  In 1955, they were invited by the piano faculty at WestminsterChoirCollege in Princeton, New Jersey to share the position of department chair and design another undergraduate pedagogy program.  Once again, a preparatory department was organized for the purpose of hands-on training.  It wasn’t too long before the program was up and running.  In fact, the success of this new program exceeded all expectations.


Soon after the preparatory department at WestminsterChoirCollege opened, a large number of piano students were enrolled.  Frances Clark and Louise Goss agreed there was a need for expansion.  They also envisioned the development of an advanced program.  Unfortunately, the facilities on campus were already overburdened, and Westminster was not yet authorized to award a Master’s degree.  In response to a lack of facilities, Frances Clark and Louise Goss co-founded The New School for Music Study in 1960.  As previously mentioned, the school offered the country’s first graduate level program in piano pedagogy.


The story of how The New School became a highly reputable center for advanced teacher training begins with Frances Clark’s determination to never settle for less than the best.  Miss Clark hired a well-qualified, experienced faculty to supervise the pedagogy program and oversee research projects conducted at the school.  Many teachers who have passed through the doors of The New School for Music Study have been recognized for their own achievements.  A complete list of faculty and school alumni reads like a “Who’s Who.”  For example, David Kraehenbuehl left a teaching position at Yale University to become the director of  the theory and composition department at The New School.


In the next installment, I will name faculty members and graduate students who have attained recognition.  I will also outline the school’s pedagogy program as it existed in 1960 and for several years that followed.  Until then, be of good cheer!

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This site is created by the faculty of the New School for Music Study, a division of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

February 13, 2018

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