I am a teacher, one of those annoying people who is happy, if not compelled, to share anything I have learned – even 10 minutes ago. Thank heavens I found an outlet for this in teaching the violin. I fell into it by accident when we went to live in a remote foreign country where I wound up doing something few sane musicians would ever do – teaching my own children.
That little girl you see in the picture here was my second student. She is now dianatheviolinist.com so evidently I didn’t do such a bad job, but it was scary. I lived in the middle of the desert, had no idea what I was doing and had no one to talk to about it. I went to the UK to take courses in a teaching method which helped a lot from the technical and practical standpoint but didn’t really tell me how to teach: the art of transmission.
They say that teachers are born and not made. I would agree that you can have the natural desire and ability to transmit something to another person. But a natural born teacher is like a musical prodigy who even with great facility needs many years of excellent training plus thousands of hours of practice to become a professional. The difference is that we teachers get our many thousand hours of practice from actually teaching our students instead of hiding in a practice room where no one can hear us.
Contrary to what many may think, knowing how to do something does not mean knowing how to teach it; you know how to walk but can you explain how you do it? Having the technical expertise to perform does not mean you have the expertise to teach. As teachers, being conscious of our transmission techniques, being aware of what and how we do what we do can help us use our power better. More importantly, it can help us not abuse it.
Yes, power. Teachers have enormous power. Any musician can demonstrate how to play an instrument, but it takes a teacher to transmit the necessary skills to play it. With power comes responsibility. We can either help our students or hurt them. There is no such thing as neutral teaching.
Many ideas in music teaching, practicing and performing are implicit, therefore not always understood or applied effectively. In this blog I hope to bring some of them out into the open and examine them.
I have learned a lot over the years, you see, which true to my nature, I will be more than happy to share with you here in future posts.