For more than a century, The Royal Conservatory has been a partner with studio teachers to deliver the highest-quality music education. To strengthen the profession of music education and to ensure a brighter future for music, The Royal Conservatory has created RCM Teacher Certification, a system of accreditation and professional development for teachers using The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program.
RCM Certified Teachers are dedicated lifelong learners, educators, and artists who make up a diverse and dynamic community of practice that is committed to building a better future for music education.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Swan Kiezebrink, an RCM Certified Teacher with Advanced Piano and Intermediate Theory designations who has run a private studio in Vanderhoof, British Columbia for the past 25 years. In a thoughtful, heartfelt interview Swan shares what she loves about being a music teacher as well as her perspective on our Certification program.
What inspired you to become a music teacher and open your own studio?
I grew up in a home with music being played, performed, and practised, with my mom always singing and playing the piano and my dad teaching and practising classical guitar after work a few evenings a week. I learned Suzuki initially, and loved to play and improvise; I also began to copy the style of the lady at church whose playing I loved to listen to, all the while listening faithfully to the recordings as was a must for this method. It was at the insistence of my previous piano teacher, once I graduated from high school, that I began teaching students from her waiting list. I found that teaching was another way to be creative, intuitive, and form connections with children and families that – as I now know – can last a lifetime. I have been teaching or 25 years.
What do you love most about being a music teacher?
I love the challenge of creating a music community with my families. What this means to me is: teaching to each child’s strengths and weaknesses; encouraging my families to meet together as a studio and attend the various events and recitals I plan for them; encouraging students to share their music with others; creating studio challenges each month to promote various aspects of music learning and to celebrate success; and most importantly, seeing a growth in character, discipline, and a love of music in students as they learn the piano.
Why did you decide to become an RCM Certified Teacher?
I grew up in northern, rural British Columbia. The nearest exam centre was 300 kilometres away and was completely unaffordable for my parents, who had already done some bartering so my brothers and I could have music lessons. Thus, I never took an exam. Although I completed the equivalent in a small, private music school that I could afford, including most theoretical requirements, I did not have the 'papers.' I completed Suzuki teacher training as well and attended many online seminars and conferences to keep up my learning, so when I saw an opportunity to see if what I had done could be considered equivalent certification and that this opportunity offered online support and learning, I had to try and see if I qualified—and am thrilled to say I did!
What do you think are the greatest benefits of RCM Teacher Certification?
I think the greatest benefits of RCM Teacher Certification are the online seminars available, with wonderful examples of various teaching points, as well as the Facebook group. Then there's the practical side—exam examples, history anecdotes, teacher listings, and more.
What would you say to teachers considering becoming an RCM Certified Teacher?
I would recommend exploring the qualifications required and taking the time to upgrade and learn if that is what is needed to become certified. I personally feel that as teachers, we need to continue to learn and be inspired ourselves. If we are teaching at our best for each individual that comes through our door, it requires a lot of us emotionally. The best way to stay 'filled up' is to listen, learn, and be inspired by different approaches and ideas to pedagogy, and to invest in ourselves.
To learn more about RCM Teacher Certification, including eligibility requirements, application procedures, and course registration information, please visit our teacher services page at rcmusic.ca/teachers or contact us at TeacherServices@rcmusic.ca.
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