My previous article "The Master Pedagogue” addressed various aspects of teaching using data collected from master teachers across the United States. There were many common threads between responses, but rarely did everyone surveyed answer unanimously. One of the few concepts every survey participant agreed upon was this: Developing yourself as musician is at least somewhat important to developing yourself as a teacher (67% said it was crucial). One of the other points everyone agreed on was that having a vast depth of knowledge was also crucial to being successful in teaching.
After the results of that survey and a reflection on my own development as a musician, I believe that developing ourselves as musicians and professionals is key to the success of our careers and increasing our knowledge. Below you will find two aspects of professional development that I think every musician needs. I certainly need them!
As an educator, I’m always looking for new ways of saying things and new methods of teaching. Due to a move, I recently finished my final lessons with a couple of students who commented that they learned more and grew more than they thought they would and thanked me for my help. As touching as that was, the question that I couldn’t help but ask myself was Did I really teach them to their fullest potential...could they have grown even more?
We live in a golden age of communication. Email and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., have made instant conversation and sharing the norm, a possibility that just 15 years ago seemed to be so far away. But as we immerse ourselves in these social networks and internet messaging, many of us are beginning to notice a startling truth – these forms of communication lack something.
NEWS ALERT: I CAN'T SCORE A BASKET TO SAVE MY LIFE!
Along with being known for playing the saxophone, I am also well known for my inability to score a basket. Whether it’s on the basketball court or with a wad of paper and a trash can, I can reliably say that I will miss the mark 9 times out of 10. Ironically, the one time I do land the shot is usually the one time I don’t take the initial preparation to think about what my arm is doing to make the shot.
Could the same phenomenon apply to how we approach performing an instrument? I think so!