Online Book Club: Steal Like An Artist


In the summer of 2012, my good friend and colleague Wendy Stevens of suggested that I attend SMU-IPT--Southern Methodist University Institute for Piano Teachers. On the first day of the conference, when looking for a place to sit and eat my boxed lunch, I happened to sit under the shade of the same tree as Dorla Pryce. Ever since, my lifetime friend, Dorla and I find each other at conferences, compare life stories, share opinions and teaching ideas.

I credit Dorla for holding me to the online book club. She noticed the absence of my book club posts and suggested I continue this unique column. All it takes is one supporter and I'm on board again. Furthermore, if that "someone" is willing to write a post for me, all the better. So, below, you will find Dorla's bio and then her review of my FAVORITE book that I actually introduced to Dorla at, you guessed it, SMU-IPT 2103.

Dorla's Bio

Dorla Pryce Aparicio, M.M., (or MissDorla, as her students affectionately call her) has been teaching early childhood music, private and group piano for more than 30 years. She received her undergraduate degree in piano performance at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico and a Master of Music degree in piano pedagogy  from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

After six years as Early Childhood Music Coordinator at TCU’s Music Preparatory Division she continues to maintain a full teaching schedule with over 50 students in her private studio, and as adjunct piano instructor at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.

MissDorla is a member of MTNAECMMA AND NGPT and enjoys networking with other music teachers around the country. She is married to Jose, who attends every recital with a smile. Together, they have one son, who is also one of her star piano students.  Dorla is also a  homeschooling mom, continually learning more than just music!

Dorla's Book Review

The tiny book, Steal Like an Artist, helped me understand the big idea that creativity is not about making something original, instead it is about collecting and sharing good ideas that will transform our lives.

Have you ever had a brilliant idea to build, create or make something, only to find out it’s already been done? Does that mean that it should not be done?  Is there a teaching style or philosophy you wish to implement, write about or further develop, but you don’t because it may be perceived as stealing? You need to learn how to Steal Like An Artist!

In his book, author Austin Kleon lists 10 things to consider as you face a blank canvas and shows us what to steal in order to create our very best work.

3d-Steal-Like-an-Artist-NYTWith item #2 on the list “Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started”  Kleon prompts us to

  • Make things, know thyself
  • Fake it ‘til you make it
  • Start copying.

Copying is a point we might not engage in for fear of plagiarism but Kleon says:

We’re talking about practice here, not plagiarism – plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work  off as your own.  Copying is about reverse-engineering.  It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.  We learn to write by copying down the alphabet.  Musicians learn to play by practicing scales.  Painters learn to paint by reproducing masterpieces.”

 That brilliant idea you have is not something new. Your idea is probably a variation or an improvement of something. So, copy it. Take the pieces apart and put them back together. Practice. Learn to internalize the views behind it.  Transform it.  Add that “something” that only you can add.

I always enjoy rereading this little book and recommend it for anyone who needs inspiration to give flight to that dazzling plan. His ideas will get your wheels turning and may help you teach that next student you haven’t been able to connect with yet!


Thoughts? Please leave them below.

Ready to add this book to your basic library? Order your copy here.

FYI: there's another SMU-IPT this summer in Dallas. I'm quite partial to this conference as the faculty SMU postcardincludes some of my favorite peeps: Bradley Sowash, Forrest Kinney and yours truly (me). Also, Dorla intends to be there as well. Come and meet us all. :-)

You can learn more and register here: SMU-IPT 2014

Hope to see you there!