Workshop to teach children to enjoy the music
Barry Kerton, Whitecourt Star
Whitecourt AB
September 5, 2012

Learning how to play a musical instrument can be difficult and stressful.

Paul Coates, hopes to alleviate some of those difficulties for Whitecourt children who are currently learning or would like to learn how to play a musical instrument when he comes to town on Sept. 9.

Through his three-hour musical workshop, called ‘Calming the Practice Monster,’ Coates said he can lessen the stress and anxiety a student feels about the whole practice or homework part of learning to play an instrument.

“The common perception is that practice is something you have to suffer through if you want to learn a musical instrument,” Coates said.

“When a student starts to feel stress about practicing they start to get discouraged and can even start to hate practicing.”

This not only affects the student but the whole negative attitude gets passed down to their music teacher and even their parents, Coates said.
“This whole process is about breaking down the negative assumptions and perceptions about practicing,” Coates said. “It’s about bringing everyone together, the student, parents and music teacher, and making music fun.”

Coates does this through a number of interactive methods including free improvisation at the piano, word games and question and answer periods.

Some of the topics Coates touches on during the work- shop are language use, time management and preconceived notions and assumptions.

“The skills students learn from this workshop can help them with more than learning how to play an instrument but with how to deal with their school homework as well,” Coates said. “If you want to calm the practice or homework monster you must take the time to acknowledge, empower, inspire and listen to each other instead of simply measuring by what you get done.”

Coates will be at the Skyview Alliance Church with his ‘Calming the Practice Monster workshop on Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $30 per person. A parent/teacher combo (1 parent or teacher with a child) is also $30. A musical team (music teacher, student & parent) is $45. To register for the program parents can go online at For those wishing to register at the door there will be an additional $5 fee.

Practicing an instrument does not have to be a chore: instructor
Erin Steele, Record-Gazette
Peace River AB
August 1, 2012

When told to do something they do not necessarily want to, nor feel an empowered sense of self from doing, the infamous 'practice monster' may emerge from the depths of any child.

Rebellious by nature and grumpy as a reaction, that little monster is causing children to walk away from instruments and music lessons Canada-wide.

But the battles can end, says Paul Coates […] and like a monster-slayer in the name of music, he is coming to Peace River to help children and parents apply his philosophy that will transform so-called monsters into empowered human beings.

Essentially his method springs from a handful of notions: language, assumptions, perceptions as well as time-management.

"What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word practice?" Coates asks.

For many, associations include hard-work, challenges and dissatisfaction: specifically pertaining to piano it is hitting wrong notes and being told by teachers that it needs this, needs that, Coates explained to the Record-Gazette by phone from Ontario.

"What about when I call it exploration?" he asks.

Whole new ballgame. er... ballad.

Part of the method is about adults putting aside their assumptions on how children see things and asking them questions with open minds to the answers.

"I hear them explain things to me and I am often quite surprised," Coates said of utilizing them method himself.

Part of it is framing things differently.

Coates once had a student who played hockey as well as piano. Learning from the child's parent that nearing piano exam time the student became stressed, Coates tried to help the child re-frame his perception.

Asking him about hockey, the child said his coach gets intense around playoff time, which stirs excitement for their sport in the players.

With this revelation Coates explained to him that exam time is like the playoffs of piano.

"His eyes lit up," he said.

Coates describes music as the universal language that speaks to us all, and is not about the final marks of an exam, but of the journey each person is on. The workshop will focus on this rather than the "I'm never as good as John or Sally" mentality that inevitably brings people down.

"I'm extremely excited about coming to Peace River. I really truly am about acknowledging, empowering and encouraging people to be inspired by who they are in what they're exploring in their lives. In this case our subject matter is music, the topic of practice," Coates said.

The workshop, which will be held in Peace River on Sat., Sept. 8 at Athabasca Hall (9705 98 Ave) between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. cost $30 for a single person, and the same for a child/adult combination. For each additional family member it is $10. You can preregister online at or through the Peace River and District Music Teacher's Association website You can pay at the door also but for an additional $5 charge.