Remember that the lessons are about the student, not the teacher. Your job is to help your students learn, grow, and develop. It is not simply to present what you would do . . . they are not you. This does not mean that your experiences will not be relevant to them. They might be, especially your struggles and discoveries, but it helps to realize that you, as teacher and artist, exist with an entirely different sense of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual sensitivities that have already been developed to a certain level.
Part of your job is to help your students refine and deepen the sensitivity and integrity of their abilities to respond to music on a physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level and then to express those responses through performance in a way that is authentic and creative, rather than mannered, derivative, or manipulative. Expecting the student to be able to duplicate your positions, movements, sounds, phrases, musical ideas, or artistry, will only frustrate you both. Self-centered ability often forgets the paths that must be traversed.
Teach through positive movement. Students at all levels need to succeed. If you really know your students, you will be able to be provide them challenges that will be stimulating, while at the same time provide them with ways of successfully meeting those challenges. This is teaching through positive movement. If you do not know your students, you run the risk of giving them assignments that will teach them frustration and confusion. You can see this through your results. Over time, have your students progressed towards greater technical and artistic liberation, have they become more inhibited, or is there little perceptible change?
Good teaching means helping your students change the way they think rather than simply telling them what to do. While teaching may often consist of telling students what to do, it almost always involves helping them change the way they think. While it is folly to tell them what to think, you must provide them experiences and challenges that help their consciousness expand its current boundaries.
If you ask a student to give up something, you must replace it with something better, even if that something can only be a promise right now. During re-training it may be necessary for students to stop playing music for a period so they can focus on developing a more effective and responsive technique. Or they may need to work on easier pieces while they learn a new way of studying or approaching interpretation. Although it may be pedagogically responsible to ask the students to give up their old way of doing things, it can be difficult and disorienting for the student. This makes it imperative for you to use all of your artistry, eloquence, and patience to explain to the student why changes are needed and how these changes can lead them to a higher level of musicianship.
Students need to know five things as they work. It is the teacher’s responsibility to help their students:
? know what to do (their objective) for each task or assignment
? know why this is important .
? know how to best go about doing it.
? know how to evaluate what they’re doing to see whether they have succeeded (the ability to apply objective criteria).
? know what to change and how to change if they see that they’re not successful.
Good teaching also means reflecting back to the student the good things: ?I loved the way you built that phrase and then backed off. You really took me someplace,? or, ?Your sound is great here!? When making a positive comment, keep the tone and do not qualify it by saying: ?That was good but . . . . .? Your good intentions will disappear into the conjunction ?but.? Many teachers think good teaching is always letting the student know what’s wrong or where their performances fall short. It’s not. Help your students see what is good about their work.
To read more about “The Virtuoso Teacher” go to www.christopherberg.com