Piano is understood more with life than with schooling. Hexing Xiao started his musical life at a tender age only to find his interest dwindled and his training grind to a halt, yet his love for piano was rekindled after he benefitted from its soothing power first-hand while pursuing his B.S. in physics at college far from home. Switching gear quickly, he embarked on the renewed journey, which brought him to doctoral studies at the Peabody Institute, after stopping by at the Universities of Kansas and Cincinnati. Xiao performed as soloist along the way in grand halls, street and family concerts, and retirement homes, and shared the stage with other musicians - because for him there is no stage that is too small.
Xiao received wide recognition and coveted awards, but his proudest achievement is what he has learned from his mentors: enlightened musicianship and the love to spread music further through teaching, scholarly work, and community engagements.
Apart from honing his own skills at the keyboard, Xiao has been an active piano teacher of the Baltimore community, sharing passion with students at UMBC, Peabody Preparatory, and other local schools. Although Xiao is specialized in the classical tradition as a performer, his academic curiosity goes above and beyond, as is evidenced by his recent research presentations on Chinese dialect rap at regional and international musicology conferences.
Xiao currently serves as piano faculty at Harford Community College and Cockeysville Music Education Center, and a teaching assistant in ethnomusicology at Peabody. At his leisure, Xiao enjoys jogging, cooking, and spending time on family projects with his wife and their two young children, Sommer and Felix.
The role of teaching piano at community schools presents special challenges as students here come with vastly diverse backgrounds and plans. Luckily, my own training in both science and music serves as a constant reminder that I should be open-minded about students’ goals and motivations. I employ my experience to respect and connect with my students, young or not-too-young alike. And the more I do so, the more I understand that students need not only an attentive piano teacher who can guide them to achievements, but also a supportive companion who would give whole-hearted recognition and help.
As a proud father of two kids and the husband of a neuro-linguist, I also see the difficulties students encounter in piano study as developmental artefacts other than intrinsic deficiencies, a common misconception in the world of piano pedagogy. Piano teachers, if equipped with a modest amount of self-belief in their own artistry, should see their accomplishments as the result of years of solution-finding, and subsequently give their students ways and time to grow and improve.
When it comes to the nitty-gritty of piano teaching, I believe in offering a variety of possibilities, other than enforcing simplified shortcuts, so that my students would negotiate their own way through the intricate process of technical and artistic attainment - with comfort and joy. However, given all the commitments I have made, there is still something mystic about teaching that would keep me perpetually humble and motivated, as I don’t always have the answers or solutions, or can look into the brain to see our knowledge transfer and skill accumulate in real-time. But knowing that we piano teachers have limited control and wherewithal only frees me as a human to embrace the imperative to learn and care.