Welcome to S.T.E. (Saskatoon Talent Education)

When we arrive on this earth, we are not pre-programmed to speak a specific language. In fact, the words we will eventually use to express ourselves are not dictated by genetics but are, rather, the product of our environment. For example, when a child whose parents speak one language is exposed to an entirely different language, that language will become its primary method of speech. This is the miracle of Mother Tongue learning. 

My name is Zane Hrynewich and I have been involved in the world of musical education for close to five decades. 

When it comes to your child's musical education, choosing the best teacher and program for your needs is a major decision. I offer alternative musical options for those not certain if Traditional Musial Education is the route for them. My teaching is based on a deep educational philosophy proven to work in the study of classical music. My focus is to apply these principles towards the nurturing of versatile Contemporary Pianists.

The first ten years of my musical training as well as my initial foray into teaching centered around the Traditional Musical Education system. Later, as an aspiring jazz musician, I recognized a significant disparity between what I had been taught and what I actually needed to know as a contemporary pianist. This led me to question the validity of what I was teaching my students and I began searching for alternatives.  I then discovered the teachings of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki.  

Dr. Suzuki discovered that in the same way very young children have the ability to learn their spoken language, they also have the potential to learn to play music. I embraced Dr. Suzuki's teachings, becoming Saskatchewan's first Suzuki Piano Teacher and studied with with a variety of Suzuki Master Teachers, as well as Haruko Kataoka, co-creator of the Suzuki Piano Method. The Suzuki Method is based on a deep educational philosophy, revolving around a vibrant Parent/Student/Teacher relationship, positive reinforcement, and a strong musical environment.  

One lazy summer's day, sitting on a bench outside a building at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, at an International Suzuki Convention, I was able to spend some one-on-one time with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. In his gentle, broken English, we talked about his philosophy. He explained his theories evolved by carefully studying the way children learn. Dr. Suzuki's words have have stayed with and inspired me over the years. Although I would no longer describe myself as a "Mainstream Suzuki Piano Teacher", Dr. Suzuki's educational philosophies and Mother Tongue teaching approach remain the backbone of my teaching.

Over the past couple of decades, my focus as a teacher has been to go beyond creating “specialized” classical musicians.    

The Anatomy of the Contemporary Pianist

Anatomy of the Contemporary Pianist

The Traditional System of Musical Education

Back in the days of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, the ability to read, perform, compose and improvise were considered to be of equal importance. The technical/visual (performance) was combined with the creative, (composition/improvisation) to produce multi-faceted musicians. When, the conservatory-based Traditional Musical Educational system emerged, the emphasis was placed on performance, and for whatever reason, the creative elements were eliminated.

It is only in music that the creative process remains shrouded in mystery.

In every other art form, students begin to practice their own creative expression right from the very first day. Painting, drawing, sculpture, poetry, drama, and creative writing classes all give students the opportunity to experience the creative process as a normal part of their learning.

The Mother Tongue Method

The Mother Tongue Method of musical education involves teaching a student to play the piano in the same way as they would naturally learn to speak their language through listening, imitation and repetition, which develops a strong ear, superior concentration and excellent memory. 

Mother Tongue is the backbone of the Suzuki Method. When I was first introduced to Dr. Suzuki's teaching philosophy, I believed Mother Tongue was his invention. I have now come to the conclusion that musicians have been learning in this way for centuries. The early composers were raised in a musical environment where performance, improvisation and composition were all part of their education. The world of music has always contained amazing musicians who have had little or no formal training at all. I have worked with many so-called "unschooled, self-taught" musicians, often skilled far beyond the scope of what is offered by Traditional Musical Education.

I used to wonder, "How did these people attain such musical prowess..... such advanced musical ears..... a strong working knowledge of the elements of theory..... the ability to improvise..... the ability to compose..... the ability to have musical conversations with others?" Musicians such as these are often categorized as "naturally gifted." While I don't deny this, I also believe much of their knowledge was attained through Mother Tongue learning.

Dr. Suzuki validated the amazing potential of children and carefully crafted an educational philosophy teaching the performance of classical music. My interactions with self-taught contemporary musicians planted a new seed in my mind, leaving me with two burning questions..... Do young children have the potential to learn elements of music beyond performance, like improvisation?..... and..... If so, how can these materials be presented to them in a natural, easy-to-digest manner?

Thus began a continuing process of presenting new ideas to my students, carefully observing their reaction, keeping what works, disposing what doesn't, and determining where to go next. Now, my teaching curriculum includes Performance, Reading, Hearing, Improvisation, Basic Keyboard Theory, Composition and Ensemble Performance, as well as the option to study Advanced Keyboard Theory and Digital Recording.

Did You Know?

  • Many classical musicians are lost without a piece of music in front of them.
  • Many contemporary musicians, (jazz, pop, rock, etc.), with fantastic musical ears are lost when they are confronted with a printed score.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Traditional Musical Education is not comprehensive. Its curriculum is centered around Western classical music's major/minor system, not touching on a vast number of elements essential to the Contemporary Musician.
  • The elements of contemporary music such as jazz, pop, rock and improvisation are considered to be too difficult for young students by many educators, and those wishing to study these must often wait until they can attend post-secondary educational institutions to do so.
  • Asking many musicians to improvise often produces a reaction of sheer terror because they have grown up learning to only play other people's music, but have never been taught how to "speak" themselves.

It Doesn't Have to be That Way

I have spent the greater part of the last two decades experimenting with my students to find ways to incorporate Dr. Suzuki's Mother Tongue techniques into the teaching of  a curriculum, which includes skills necessary for today's Contemporary Pianist. As there are no existing "methods" pertaining to teaching these things to young people, I have had to carefully build my own.. The challenge has been to marry what I consider to be the strongest components of Traditional Musical Education, the "unschooled, self-taught" movement, and contemporary disciplines, (jazz, rock, pop, blues) into materials which can be presented  in a natural, easy to digest "Mother Tongue" way. 

My Goal?

To provide my students with the opportunity to obtain a diverse and comprehensive musical education consisting of the building blocks necessary for today's Contemporary Pianist - to nurture each student with respect and positive reinforcement - to never compare, never judge, but always support.

What I Teach

Music For Children

Music For Children

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Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

"Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited."

..... Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Dr. Suzuki's words, as quoted above reflect a very important truth. Musical ability is not a "gift" reserved for "special" children - it is an ability which can be developed in all children. Just like speaking a language, some children may learn to speak more fluently than others, but all have the potential to speak. 

I have had close to five decades of experience working with young children, including those with ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other afflictions. Experience has taught me that all have the potential to learn and grow when surrounded with strong parental support, a rich musical environment, and gentle, positive nurturing.

Eligible Students

  • Children three and up with no experience on the piano.
  • Students transferring from other disciplines are welcome. When placing such students, a careful assessment of the student's skills is completed and a study plan is developed specifically for that student.
Music for Adults

Music for Adults

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Albert Einstein

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
                ..... Albert Einstein

When working with the adult student, my approach is to tailor a program specifically for each student. I offer lessons in a variety of genres, (classical, blues, jazz, rock, pop, improvisation), however, I am careful to choose developmental repertoire geared towards building higher skill levels in the student. Ability development is encouraged rather than just playing pieces from a pre-existing "method". My goal for the Adult Student is to get them playing stimulating repertoire as quickly as possible, regardless of their skill level and achieve a positive sense of progress. Therefore, it is vital to quickly design a musical “game plan”, tailored to the specific needs of each student.

Digital Recording

Digital Recording

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Brian Eno

"In the 1960s when the recording studio suddenly really took off as a tool, it was the kids from art school who knew how to use it, not the kids from music school. Music students were all stuck in the notion of music as performance, ephemeral. Whereas for art students, music as painting? They knew how to do that"
                                                                                                                ..... Brian Eno

For those interested in Digital Recording, I provide three options:

  • Live Recording/Digital Recording/Mixing/Engineering/Producing – for aspiring recording artists, singers, composers. We record students performing their own compositions, including vocals and instrumental parts. This provides a basic knowledge of live recording techniques. We also have the option to work with a wide variety of digital instrumentation, ranging from drums, to strings, to orchestra, to synthesizers and much more. Once instrument tracks are completed, mixing techniques are introduced. These include equalization, compression, reverb, delays, and exposure to literally hundreds of other plugins designed to produce studio-quality mixes.
  • Mixing/Engineering/Producing – This is for students who do not wish to record their own compositions, but who are interested in the Mixing/Engineering/Producing aspects of recorded music production. We use pre-recorded vocal and instrumental tracks as a starting point to build a unique mix. Students learn mixing techniques, including panning, automation, equalization, compression, reverb, and digital effects. They may also choose to add digital instrumentation as well as experiment with other production techniques.
  • Electronic Music – Students work with a multitude of state-of-the-art in-house electronic instruments, synthesizers and samplers to build their own electronic sounds. They learn about electronic sound creation and manipulation, as well as mixing, engineering, and production basics.

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