‘Teaching piano isn’t about what is played at the piano; it’s about what happens at the piano’ Maria Pardalis.

January 14, 2014

The longer I teach music, the more I realize how true my mother’s words hold true. Due to our slower economy, students seem to be starting lessons later often in...

The longer I teach music, the more I realize how true my mother’s words hold true. Due to our slower economy, students seem to be starting lessons later often in their teen years. We all remember our teen years where everyone seemed better than us and we just felt frustrated and angry. Often our bodies seemed all elbows and knees and we just felt awkward.  Add trying to learn a skill that takes years to master, teens will often just give up. Parents trying to help will become the authority figures they are should be and fights happen. Then sadly the more often than most, lessons will stop.

This leads me to my favorite educational quote, “I can’t teach anyone anything, I can only make them think” Socrates. So if teaching music is not what is played at the piano and I can not truly teach them anything – what exactly is my job as an educator? When I look back at my lessons over the years, which teachers did I learn the best from? Was it the teachers who drilled me over and over? Was it the teachers who told me how to play stuff? Or was it the teachers who discussed life with me and then got me to show them what I had mastered over the week. It was the teachers who took the time to get to know me, cared about what was happening in my life and took the time to share with me what they knew about music. When I had a bad week, I remember one teacher would make me a cup of tea and listen to my issues. One of my teachers, opera star Joesph Shore always tells me that he teaches through the cottage style of teaching where it is a conversation between the student and teacher. So what does this mean, it means that the relationship between the teacher and student must be one of a mentor and student. There must be complete trust between the two and through encouraging the student will then want to put in the work. Then in turn the teacher will share his/her knowledge.

I recently got in a debate with a basketball coach disagreed with me and said yelling is sometimes necessary in teaching. I disagree. It must be done with love. I reminded of the story of the donkey. Once there was a city mayor who got yelled at by the governor so when the police chief came by the mayor yelled at him, then the assistant chief spoke to the chief who in turn also yelled at. Then a police officer spoke to the assistant chief who also got yelled at. The policeman was then spoken to by a common man; the common man was too yelled at. Then common man’s donkey then made a sound so the common man whipped his donkey. The donkey refused to do any work. Now the food in town would not be grown. Imagine if everyone had spoken with love to each other. How much further would their town gotten?

 

Every thought has an action and every action has an reaction.  

 

 

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