Elizabeth MacIsaac has taught piano privately
for over 30 years, in Victoria, in Mill Bay and in Paris.
She graduated with distinction from the University
of Victoria in 1984, and undertook two years of graduate study
in Musicology with a specific interest in the works of Franz
Liszt. Elizabeth holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington.
Piano Teaching Philosophy (click to read)
Studio Voice Teaching Philosophy
Singing emerges from rich resonance generated
from a solid breath support and correct posture. The best singing
occurs when the vocalist feels physical and psychological well-being
and is alert. The art of teaching voice may sometimes be experienced
as a mysterious black art, but while there is mystery behind great and
beautiful singing, part of the source lies in discipline and training:
guided physical,technical and artistic work. Each developing singer's needs are
unique and so the work with each student varies tremendously.
As well, the since the student has an active role in the discovery
of the voice, he/she is to a degree his own teacher.
My own singing career has been invaluable
to my teaching philosophy. Curiosity about the challenges I have
encountered on my own musical path has sparked a strong interest
assisting this process with my students. My approach includes
both concrete experience and intuition. The best teaching employs
a vast array of styles and concepts, to list only a few:
- Imparting a good practical understanding
of what the body does and does not need to do to create healthy
- So much in singing relies upon
effective breath support.
- Understanding resonance
- Vocal onsets
- Vowel balancing
- Developing access to both upper and lower
registers, and unifying them successfully
- Use of imagery
- Expression of the text, articulation and
pronunciation, emotional connection, body and face expressivity
Preferred teaching and coaching repertoire
includes all forms of Early Music, Folk Music, Lieder, French,
Italian, Spanish and English Art Song, Oratorio and Musical Theatre,
Opera from Monteverdi to Mozart and Contemporary Avant-Garde
Music including Extended Techniques.
Rather unique to my teaching approach is the
combination of traditional voice work with the addition of lesser known
vocal possibilities: for example, chants from various sources
(Medieval, Scandinavian), overtoning, drones,
use of modes, clusters and canons
I am very proud to say that many of my students
have gone on to further studies at the university level and have
continued to make solo performing a significant part of their
As children, we draw, sang and danced without
self consciousness. Its this place we need to return to in our
hearts, to the creative, natural child in each of us.
Private Piano Studio Teaching
My pedagogical approach uses technique and
repertoire in tandem to develop an energetic and dynamic, yet
relaxed physical approach to mastering the instrument.
Invention is part of learning the piano, since it the piano
is such an harmonic instrument and tremendously useful for discovering
how music is created.
The students are encouraged to learn to improvise
and to invent their own pieces along the way, related to technical,
harmonic and structural concepts being introduced along the way.
Depending on the individual, these are often developed into full-blown
compositions which the student then performs. I have several
students who are budding composers.
I enjoy making technique interesting for the student:
again, connecting it to the repertoire is key.
I encourage my students to perform several times a year, enter
them in festival, in recital and in exams.
I ask my students to attend concerts as much
as possible and to listen to classical and jazz music at home.
On the more imaginative level, I find that creating stories to go
with the absolute music, use of imagery (a film or dramatic story),
evocation of all types, imagining instruments playing the music,
exploring textures and sonorities, and the use of one's singing voice to
demonstrate cantabile…these are a few of the tools
that I use to explain my own teaching
process. The possibilities are endless, and they come not
only from my bag of tricks, but from the students' own creative
Especially with the young pianist, the imagination is
perhaps the richest resource here, because then learners own their own musical
experience. The teacher is there to facilitate, to draw out and
to mentor, as well as to help structure the learning process.