Marian’s Approach To Music Education

It is widely accepted knowledge that many outstanding champions in numerous fields of sports are ineffective coaches. In other words, seldom do the “Wayne Gretzky’s” become good at developing skilled followers and become successful coaches. Whether because of lack of aspiration or unusually small hand size or an introverted social style, Marian would never describe herself as an outstanding pianist. However, because of her school teaching skills in particular and her love and devotion to music, she became an outstanding music teacher. She did not accept any excuses that some may claim they were “tone deaf” and would accept students excluded by teachers who had given up on them becoming good performers.

In order to understand and appreciate the importance of theory and rudiments, she taught this knowledge largely from the beginning with her full-time students. As a result, passing the various grade level requirements were never a problem for these students.

It was always a concern of Marian’s, that even though dedicated and conscientious, adults could begin advertising and attracting music students even though not really qualified to do so. This is the reason why this award is being set up in her memory; to provide some financial support for senior students, preferably with at least grade 9 and who are aspiring to achieve their ARCT in teaching (as opposed to performance) and become piano music teachers.

The assumption is that applicants for the award each year will apply to a committee set up by the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers Association. The committee will make the award decision each year based on the criteria outlined in accordance with the personal goals of Marian Nelson.

Marian Nelson Memorial Piano Pedagogy Award

Like most piano students, her mother had her and her twin sister Margaret, taking lessons at age six. She progressed step by step and then switched to an ARCT qualified teacher in grade eight. She and her sister played as a duet in several music competitions in their home city of Windsor, Ontario with considerable success.

According to Margaret, while Marian was working on her grade 10 and the highest level of theory, she connected with Howard Munn at the Conservatory of Western Ontario, a part of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. During this period, she and her sister went to a teacher’s college in London, Ontario and became full time school teachers.

Marian taught in public schools for nine years with particular training in teaching special needs children. Marriage to her husband of 55 years Vernon Nelson, and a move to Winnipeg, stalled her music achievement at completion of grade 10. It was not until after having three sons that her ARCT goal came again to the forefront. After the birth of her third son, Marian started teaching music in her home in the mid 1970’s. She also started working on her teachers ARCT with Joan Passey, which she achieved in 1983.

In the early 1990’s, Marian came under contract with the School of Music at the University of Manitoba where she not only had individual students, but also taught classes in music theory rudiments. Her success in this area was incredible, which is on record at the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music. In some ten years, only two of her class students had marks less than the Canadian National average with most marks in the high 90’s. Her methods were not based on any gimmicks but on a sound understanding of the fundamentals of music construction which students could understand and retain.

She had many students become accomplished piano players. One boy in particular became a Professor in the Music Department of a University in the United States.

Marian Nelson Memorial Piano Pedagogy Award