Andrea McAlister is an Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, the Director of Digital Content for the Frances Clark Center and the Senior Editor of Piano Magazine.
McAlister embraces the magic of communicating through music and cherishes the opportunity to help students learn to play piano. She engages her students' curiosity and guides them through the learning process by drawing them into the music and giving them the tools not only to reproduce a piece, but also to create. She encourages her students to use their imagination freely, experiment and push boundaries in interpreting music and composing.
During her sessions and workshops for educators, McAlister emphasizes the importance of group learning because it demands accountability and requires students to work together to achieve a common goal. Relationship-building and establishing trust are key elements of McAlister's teaching style. Agreeing with a favorite quote by Frances Clark, McAlister believes that educators "teach the student first, the music second and the piano third."
McAlister always seeks to show up and give students her best, even on "off days." She tells educators, "I need to bring my best because that's what my students need. In addition to being their piano teacher, they may need me to be a good listener, a strong shoulder to cry on, someone to offer advice. They deserve my best day, every day."
At 10 years old, McAlister knew that she was destined to follow in her parents' footsteps and become a teacher. She understands that music educators have a special relationship with their students, and credits two meaningful professors with nurturing her and helping shape her own path into keyboard pedagogy: applied instructor Richard Morris and pedagogy professor Michelle Conda from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She now seeks to recognize those early "sparks" in her students and help to nudge them in the right direction.