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Basic Information
Full Name: Grace Hiltz
UC Email:
College: College of Engineering and Applied Science
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Title of Project: A Study in Teaching Piano
Thematic Area: Leadership
Expected Project Start Date: May 10th, 2015
Expected Project End Date: August 10th, 2015
Project Information
1. Provide a detailed abstract of your proposed honors experiential learning project.
I first started taking piano lessons when I was four years old, and over the next fourteen years, they
became an integral part of who I am. Not only did these lessons give me a strong work ethic which would
carry over into my school work, they also taught me about how I learn versus how others learn. This ability
to distinguish different learning types allowed me to become a leader in my community in high school, and I
developed a love of leadership. For my self-designed honors experience, I am proposing a summer of
teaching piano lessons. I will be teaching young students in my area through my own home. I have some
previous experience with teaching, but I want to further explore the methods behind teaching different
learning types in children. I will be using my piano teacher of fourteen years as a mentor and guide through
this process, as he has so much experience and wisdom to help me become a better leader.
The time commitment involved in this experience encompasses preparation, the lessons themselves,
and reflection afterward. I plan on devoting two hours each week to preparation, and as I know of four
possible students, I will have four hours of lessons each week, and then another two hours of reflection.
This means eight hours each week, for eleven weeks (accounting for a vacation sometime in the summer)
for a total of 88 hours. I believe that the reflection portion will be the most important. While I will be
taking notes before the lessons, and writing more during the lessons, it is during the reflection portion that I
can compile my ideas and form a big picture of how best to lead. In order for the lessons themselves to be
effective, I will require my students to practice for thirty minutes each day, and I will ask their parents to
ensure that this happens. Without the time put into practice, lessons become a futile exercise of reworking
the same material week after week, and this would prevent my leadership role from taking root.
Clearly and thoroughly address how each of the following elements will be exhibited in your work:
2. Connection to Learning Outcomes within the Honors Thematic Area (identified above)
Identifies the various characteristics of a leader in a given situation/role
This aspect of my project is incredibly important, as I want to develop a stronger leadership style. To do
so, I must recognize the various characteristics of a leader, such as patience, decision-making, reflection,
and charisma. Especially when dealing with children, it is important to be a leader who recognizes the
needs of the people she is leading. Patience is necessary when children try to bargain or dont want to
practice. Decision-making is an important skill in designing a well-paced curriculum for each student.
Reflection means taking the time to understand what effects your decisions have, and what path your
leadership will take. Charisma is possibly the most important when teaching children, since it is
necessary for them to look up to their teacher, and to be willing to work hard to gain approval. By
working towards these leadership traits, I can become a far more effective teacher.

Has the ability to relate, communicate and work effectively with peers
While teaching children may be seen as different from peers, I believe that children are my peers. While
I may be older, I can still impact their lives in a big way. Therefore, the impact I make must be a
positive one. By being able to relate to the children I teach, I can better understand what will motivate
them to work hard and practice. Communication can be especially difficult because there are always
days with kids where they just wont listen, no matter what you try. Therefore, bargaining chips become
a necessary part of the lessons. By giving a reward, such as a sticker chart, it becomes incentive to
practice, stay focused, and work hard.
3. Connection to Goals and Academic Theories (include reference list, as appropriate)
A. Music will always be an incredibly relevant and important part of my life. Often, when I need
to think or reflect, I find myself at the keyboard of a piano, playing in order to think. In my
personal life, teaching and leadership are important, because I am a role model to many younger
family members, as well as my neighbors children. Professionally, this project will help me
develop leadership skills that I will need in the future, as I plan on working in industry, where
rising as a leader can easily happen if one applies oneself. While piano is not a part of
biomedical engineering, it is a part of my personal development, and teaching will help me
become a better leader.
B. I have done some reading on different leadership theories, and I have found a few, which I
believe will be applicable as I work to become a better teacher. One such leadership theory is the
Behavioral Theories of leadership, or What does a good leader do? There are three types:
autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. As a teacher, I will be an autocratic leader, but I will be
applying what I learn from one type to apply to the other two. Another theory I have read about
is Power and Influence Theories of leadership, or What is the source of a leaders power?
Without power and authority, I would not be an effective teacher. By observing and
understanding how to have influence over my students, I can apply this knowledge to be a better
leader in other aspects of my life. I will also be doing some reading from Teaching Piano by
Denes Agay, a volume about how to teach piano which includes theories about teaching styles as
well as what material to cover depending on the level of the student.
4. Initiative, Independence, and/or Creativity
My unique contribution to this project comes from my experiences as both student and teacher.
By using the knowledge of how both sides work or clash together, I can design a learning plan which
will be effective for teaching without making the student feel overly pressured or bored. By creating
individualized learning plans for each student, I will harness my creativity to best benefit the student.
Also, most teachers do not take notes during lessons. Either a parent will come with their child and
write down notes, or the child is expected to remember what the teacher tells them. By taking notes
while I teach, I can better serve the child by giving them a copy of my notes to take home, which will
remind them what I told them to work on throughout the week between two lessons.
5. Reflection
I will be reflecting throughout this experience in a set of notebooks. In order to keep ideas
separate, I will be using one notebook for each student. These notebooks will include the pages of notes
taken during lessons, as well as my reflections after the lesson is over, which will include ideas of what
will happen the following week. In this way, there will be a cohesive set of information about each
students lesson plan, and whether or not they are on track with the speed they should be learning.
While I will be planning the lessons in advance, if I find in the reflective portion that the student is not

where they should be, I will revise the lesson plan to adjust for their style of learning as I discover it. I
will also focus on the following questions in order to become a more effective teacher:
Was I a successful leader this week?
What made me successful?
Was I unsuccessful at presenting any of this weeks information?
How can I remedy this situation for next week?
Was the student effectively engaged throughout the lesson?
If no, how can I make the lesson more fun or challenging so that the student will pay more
attention to the material being presented?
How can I connect what I learned from teaching today to the leadership theories described
Is the student on track with their learning plan?
If no, do I need to change the learning plan, or is there something else that should be done?
I will also be submitting my findings in a reflective essay to the honors department, and summarizing
my experience in a condensed manner for my online learning portfolio.
6. Dissemination
In order to present what I have learned, I will be making a reflective book. I will be compiling
my notes from the lessons I teach, and typing them in order to print them into a booklet. I feel this is the
best way to present the experience considering the fact that it will take place over three months, so a
book was a logical fusion of the weeks of lessons. I will also include a portion in this book to discuss
my reflections throughout the experience and what I learned through the leadership theories discussed
previously, as well as reflections from my students, which I will procure from them near the end of the
experience. I will include advice to future teachers on processes, teaching devices, what worked and
what did not, and how to further their leadership skills.
I will also be posting portions of the information in the book to my honors portfolio online. I
will include excerpts from my notes, the student reflections, and some of my own. I will share this
collection with my former music teachers, as well as former classmates who have an interest in teaching
music, especially piano. In this way, I can share relevant information with those who will benefit the
most from learning from my experience.
7. Project Advisor(s)
Mark Bailey
Music Director at St. Xavier Parish, Cincinnati, OH
8. Budget (if applicable)
No additional funding will be necessary for this proposed experience.