As owner and music educator at her Songwriting for Kids studio in Brunswick, Maine , Josephine Cameron takes her students through different musical genres and eras, teaching them how to play instruments, write songs, and embrace their creativity. When she's not teaching, singing, playing the piano, or writing songs and poems, Cameron writes novels about mermaids, heroes, and celebrity dogs. Her middle grade novels include Maybe a Mermaid, A Dog Friendly Town, Not All Heroes, and her newest, The Department of Lost Dogs (out now from FSG). PW spoke with Cameron about how her teaching and writing fuel each other, why she's fascinated with famous dogs, and what her hopes are for her readers and students. You're the first music teacher we've spoken with for PW 's School and Library Spotlight! How and why do you teach music and the creative process? For the last 15 years, I've taught music privately at my piano and guitar studio. I teach K–8 kids and mostly focus on piano as well as improvisation and songwriting. I absolutely love helping kids develop a creative habit. I try to introduce them to the creative life—and the moments when we can actively practice using the innovative, imaginative part of our brains. When teaching and learning music, especially piano, you have an opportunity to interact and use your problem-solving skills. Each time my students come into my studio, they're presented with a piece of music that seems absolutely impossible. But then we take it apart and attack it one small piece at a time. With piano everything is very linear—the notes and keys are laid out in a row. It's also multi-sensory. You can feel the distance between the notes and have multiple ways of approaching the music. So, together, we're reading the music and finding our way through it. And, just like that, we're developing the creative habit, problem-solving skills, accessing our curiosity and wonder, and improvising, too. I think all of these skills are so important, and we need them in the world right now. What are a few of your favorite things about […]
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