In my last blog, I highlighted the achievements of Frances Clark and Louise Goss by giving a timeline. Today, I will fast-forward to 1981. This information was obtained through interviews and school literature.
As you may recall, Frances Clark and Louise Goss organized an undergraduate piano pedagogy program at Westminster Choir College in 1955. Five years later in 1960, Miss Clark and Miss Goss co-founded The New School for Music Study because Westminster could not offer a Master’s degree. Although The New School opened in 1960 as the first advanced training center that awarded a “Certificate of Professional Achievement,” there existed ongoing interest in developing a degree program. This was possible if The New School and Westminster Choir College established a joint program.
Frances Clark was able to accomplish what she set out to do. After Westminster was granted state authorization in 1981, the pedagogy curriculum was combined with a degree program in piano performance. At that point, graduate students had two options. They could choose to complete the certificate program at The New School or pursue a Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance by doing course work at both schools. Some courses were added while others were restructured. Of course, the core curriculum included hands-on teaching.
A baccalaureate degree was required for the certificate course and Master’s degree. Pedagogy students received undergraduate degrees from universities and colleges throughout the United States and abroad: e.g. Cincinnati Conservatory, Shanghai Conservatory of Music in Shanghai, China, and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. Prior teaching experience was not a prerequisite, but some students did have experience, and there were those who were familiar with the teaching materials from The Clark Library.
As The New School for Music Study was well known for its outstanding pedagogy curriculum, applicants had to pass a competitive screening process. Entrance requirements for the Master’s degree program included a performance audition that was supervised and approved by the piano faculty at Westminster Choir College. An evaluation of a prospective student’s teaching skills was made through an interview and teaching audition conducted at The New School. In selecting graduate students for the pedagogy program, the faculty considered an ability to communicate effectively as being of utmost importance. Regardless of how well they performed, prospective students had to demonstrate exceptional teaching skills.
Many graduate students chose to receive a certificate instead of completing a degree program because they already had a Master’s degree. A certificate course also provided training for anyone who could only make a short-term commitment. There remains a demand for certificate courses and teaching internships as more professionals are seeking to enhance their education. The New School still offers a teaching internship for teachers who want to extend their training. Our interns have said they have learned how to fine tune their teaching, and at the same time, they have acknowledged Frances Clark’s unique approach as a game changer.
Now that I have outlined the prerequisites for admission, I will reveal what else I discovered while doing research on The New School. I will begin by listing course requirements and then describe the teaching internship as observed firsthand. Because this research was completed in 1998, you can get a bird’s eye view of a graduate pedagogy program that evolved over many years of continued study in teacher-training methods. I will give information about the school’s affiliation with The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy after I have finished recounting my observations.