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Chapt 9 1987-1994 Columbus Ohio

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Chapt 9           1987-1994            Columbus Ohio

The next 8 years of 1987 through 1995 marked a new period for us as I finished my graduate work at Ohio State University and expanded my music teaching from a part time avocation to a full time career.  Graduate school had been a real joy for me and it had carried me through the most difficult period of time of life.  On June 12, 1987, I had received my PhD from Ohio State University in Music Education with a specialty in teaching piano to persons with special needs.   I attended the outdoor graduation ceremony and Keith (as a faculty member) presented me with the PhD stole which was especially meaningful to both of us.  When Keith had finished his Ph D studies from University of Illinois in 1965 we were not able to attend his graduation ceremony because we were in the process of moving with 3 young children to Columbus, Ohio to begin his 30 year tenured position at Ohio State University.  So, in 1987 we recognized that this really was a graduation ceremony for both of us!  After the ceremony was over Keith and I and our family celebrated at the Kikiki restaurant in Columbus.  It was glorious!   Keith’s career at OSU was flourishing and he was now an Associate Professor. Later he was promoted to Director of the first year medical curriculium.  So, now I had to decide how to proceed with my life!    

I had already expanded my piano studio to include a wide mix of students.  About ½ of my students were traditional children and youth of all ages—some of whom were musically gifted and preparing for college entrance into music and others just wanted to enjoy music (and some of them chose to come to lessons with a very limited or even nonexistent practice schedule! )  My students also included adults—beginners through advanced levels), and about ½ of my students were had special needs – both children and adults (i.e. Mental Retardation, Turrets Syndrome, Visually Impaired, Autistic, Auditory Impairment, Hyperactivity, etc.)    

I had discovered that not much research had been done for teaching special needs students in the specific field of piano performance so as part of my dissertation I had designed a specific curriculum and method which had proven to be very effective.   I expanded my studio now to ‘full time and more’ for the next 7 years, and in that process I developed a whole new studio design called “Piano Tri-op”.  This design included two other piano teachers and myself who worked together as a team to teach piano students.  In addition to that, our oldest son, Scott, was also a musician and played cello in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (his BA was in cello performance and MA in theory-composition).  His wife, Kim, had passed away in 1985 and during the following years until my retirement, Scott assisted me with ideas and helped to put this new plan together as well.  For example, one of my teaching highlights during the summers in past years had been to include a one-week music skills workshop for piano students in which students not only used their piano skills as part of the curriculum but also included other areas such as art, drama and dance to learn other elements such as Music History.  These activities encouraged them to portray and learn about specific areas of composition and other elements of music performance which were not a part of most piano instructor’s traditional teaching curriculum for private students.  I also began a Young Children’s class for beginners and a group piano experience as well which included ensemble work using electronic pianos.  Most students were not interested in practicing Scales, Cadences and Arpeggios, so I created a program which Icalled“Scale Olympics” which made it possible for them to earn achievement ribbons and trophies for their accomplishments in technical skills.  In 2017, the “Scale Olympics”  program still exists as a part of the OMTA activities in Columbus, Ohio.  And, we introduced Theory and Composition as a regular part of the piano student curriculum as well.  I also began a week-long series of creative piano performance opportunities for students to take the place of the traditional “Spring Recital”.  Then, one day I realized that there was no music camp in Ohio that was available at that time for students who loved music and were studying privately, but who were not exemplary piano students or had a wish to become professional performers.  So, in 1991 I published a book, “(IT), RX:  Intentional Teaching” (Enthusiasm Caplets for the Independent Music Teacher) and about the same time I was commissioned by the Ohio Music Teachers’ Association to create and start the Ohio Summer Music Camp which included these concepts for piano students as well as performance activities. 

In 1994, Keith’s Mom had passed away.  She loved to travel, so Keith and Ihad taken her with us on trips to many places such as England and Europe and even to Russia!  And, by then, Scott/Barb and Kelly/Junior were married (Terry/Owen and Todd/Debbie had married earlier);  so that by the end of 1994, all four of our children were married and we were grandparents to 6 of our grandchildren:  Jessica, Joshua, Alena, Nathan, Pearce and Russell.   Our hopes that each of our children would have academic and technical skills to prepare them for a job and a productive life had also been realized:  Scott had his Master’s degree; Terry had completed her commission as a professional beauticion; Todd had his Master’s degree and would later complete a PhD and Kelly had a 2 year degree from Columbus State College and had almost completed her BA in Archaeology by then and would later receive her BA and MA degrees.  was a wonderful life! 

Then one day in 1994, Keith came home from work and told me that he would be retiring from OSU on January 1, 1995.  Then, he suggested that we buy a new camping trailer and spend our first full year of retirement travelling though out the United States .   So this is what we did!  But, little did we realize then that this was also a whole new beginning for us as we later moved to South Texas and began a whole new life there.  

Keith and Elva Michal invite you to join us on our family journey which began April 15, 1956. It is our hope to share memories, tell stories and preserve the family history that we have gathered over the years.

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