Karen Lander Bio
I want my students to love creating music, to enjoy the intimate connection with greatness that comes with learning a piece of music, to rise to the challenges, and most of all, keep playing long after they’ve left my studio.
Music has always been part of my life, but I travelled down some other paths before settling into teaching. Like many people, I started lessons young and mostly kept going straight through high school. By the time I headed off to university, I had completed the RCM Grade 10. I sang in church and school choirs and ensembles and performed in the Toronto Kiwanis Festival and scholarship recitals. But the performance I remember the most was accompanying my high school orchestra in Beethoven’s 5th symphony. The piano has the complete range of an orchestra, but there is nothing as exhilarating as being part of one!
University brought other creative and intellectual challenges, and sparked my interest in writing. It wasn’t until my first child was born and my parents bought me a lovely Kawai upright that I returned to playing.
When our youngest started piano lessons, I was encouraged to sit in, and gained my first teaching mentor. It wasn’t long before I returned to my own studies. As our children took up lessons in flute and clarinet and cello, and joined first the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra Port Hope, then the Kawartha Youth Orchestra and eventually, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, I continued to learn from some great musicians.
And that was only the beginning of this journey. I returned to my own music studies to earn the ARCT in Piano Pedagogy and a First Class Honours Advanced Theory Certificate. I am RCM Certified Teacher at the Advanced Level for Piano and Music Theory, Harmony and History.
Never stop Learning
I love working with students one-on-one. I learn so much in the process that lets me respond to their individual learning styles and goals. Many students have worked with me for over ten years, which is a special privilege that private teachers enjoy.
It is my belief that lessons must offer a safe place to take the risks necessary to learn and develop musically. Lessons are working sessions that build on what the student has accomplished throughout the week in their practice. The reward is as much in the process as it is in creating a moving performance.
There is such pleasure and reward in tackling and meeting the challenges music study offers. When you learn a piece of music, you learn to unravel and solve interesting problems–technical, creative and artistic. These skills translate to so many other aspects of your life… and they stick with you!
Recently, I started training at CrossfitPTBO and have started to compete in Masters Olympic Weightlifting. Learning something new, technical and complicated is a great reminder of just how it feels to be a student
With COVID-19 came the need to switch to on-line teaching in the blink of an eye. In three short months, I have learned more about the technology of teaching, and about how to teach from afar than I could ever have imagined. It has made me a better teacher and now I am eager to explore just how to make the most of these new opportunities for me and for my students.