What have your students taught you?

What have your students taught you?

Particularly for those who teach, I’m intrigued to know what you have specifically learned from your students. This could be either generally (attitude, for example) or specifically (technique, for example).

After playing some music just now (while waiting for my pc to boot up) I had the sudden realisation that my technique has changed for the better thanks to working with / demonstrating ideas to young players and getting them started with hand positions that work well for them.

And more generaally, in my experience the best thing about teaching is that it’s a two-way street, so you learn from your students.

I have some other bits to add but I would love to know, if you teach, what have you learned from your students?

Re: What have your students taught you?

I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, and it has taught me to evaluate and examine everything I do…what, how, and why, for starters. I’m better for it.

Re: What have your students taught you?

I hate it when a student learns a tune that I don’t know or plays a tune that i was teaching better than me.

(Deep down I love it really it, it shows that my effort wasn’t wasted)

Re: What have your students taught you?

I love it when we get really stuck with learning how to do something, and I ask the student, and they come up with amazing ideas which work for them. For example, for an exam I had to help a 7-year-old learn to read the bass clef, and after asking her what would make it fun for her, she devised a musical treasure-hunt where she could go and find the correct notes as I played them (we do a lot of ear / memory / harmony work too, so this was an easy next step for her).

Very inventive, though, and now I use her “game” with other students.

Re: What have your students taught you?

Ditto Greg’s sense of self-evaluation. And then explaining it to others teaches us how to articulate what we know, ever finding new ways to explain things, which in turn refines our own understanding.

I love it when a student is really listening and they ask me to stop and explain something I just did. Even after 35 years of teaching music, it is *routine* that we stumble on new realizations and insights this way. That, to me as much or more so than to my students, is remarkable.

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Re: What have your students taught you?

Also, when my students have become my session and band mates, it compels me to practice what I preach! 🙂

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Re: What have your students taught you?

To slow down. Waaay down….

Re: What have your students taught you?

Learning how different it is to have no actual knowledge but having musical talent. What I mean is, both of my students have taught themselves pieces of music on their selected instruments, but they don’t understand what they are doing. Well… understand what’s going on.

One of my students was playing a song on his grandmothers organ one day and told me that he wanted me to learn the song for him so that I could teach the rest to him. When I listened to the song, it sounded significantly different than what he played, but he was close enough to have impressed me.

My other student plays guitar really well, but when he looks at a piano he gets really flustered. I try not to put any pressure on him, but it seems like his brain is moving really fast(thinking too much) and making things more complicated for him. If I don’t tell him exactly where to go, and exactly what to do, he gets confused.

So though both of them do have talent, I have to teach them from scratch because they have no idea what they are doing. Learning how to be patient and confident in myself. That just because they don’t learn as fast as I expect them to, doesn’t mean i’m a bad teacher, just means I need to be patient, or readjust my teaching style.

One thing that I did find pretty neat was their motives behind wanting to play piano. I originally didn’t really wanna learn how to play piano, but I was fascinated by it and how interactive it is. But my two students have both told me that they want to learn how to play just because they like how it sounds, which I think is the purest reason to want to pick up an instrument.

Re: What have your students taught you?

Nice ideas! Re the last comment, I find that’s why people like the harp - it always sounds pretty good, which is a plus when you’re going through the learning phase, although in a session I absolutely know it’s not always the right sound to contribute, so I have learned when not to play it too!

I think the thing about Will Harmon’s comment is also spot-on - when you have to explain stuff, it sorts it in your own mind, and occasionally gives you amazing insights on your own processes.

And sometimes I have to remember that if I advice a student to really work at something, I then can’t get away with not doing that myself, when I encounter a difficulty in my own playing.

Re: What have your students taught you?

Teaching has forced me to be very self-aware, to analyse everything I do, and work out ways to break it all down into steps or stages or component parts, and come up with ways to verbalise things.

One of my strengths (so people have told me) is my ability to invent exercises or practice strategies to enable people to overcome whatever peculiar problems they are having. This is born of necessity: there’s a particular thing the student isn’t able to do, and I have to come up with a way to get them to do it.

In contrast there are teachers who just say “you’re not doing it right! Just do it like me and you’ll be doing it right. No that’s still not right, listen to the way I do it and do it like me!” and lack the ability to LISTEN to what the student is doing, analyse exactly where the problem is, and figure out a strategy to get the student to fix it.

I have little teaching materials, pages of handouts of exercises and so forth, most of which have come from the STUDENTS themselves. When I encounter several people with the same problem, the execise which helped them overcome the problem then becomes one of the standard exercises I give to beginners.

In other words, teaching is a reciprocal thing, a continual process of the students teaching me how to teach.

There’s a tutor out there (which shall remain nameless) which, if you try to learn from it or teach a student through it, smacks of being written by somebody to knows how to play but has never taught. It dwells on things that students generally don’t have problems with, and lacks information and exercises on issues that students regularly have problems with. Goes to show how bad teaching is, that’s created in a vacuum, that is, without the knowlege gained from actual teaching.

Re: What have your students taught you?

A Lot !
Especially when you have to go and relearn tune’s just to teach them it right…
Then, you realize your not as Good/Smart as you thought you where.
jim,,,

Re: What have your students taught you?

WIth young students, I’ve learned that things I think might be really difficult turn out to be easy, and vice-versa. As an example, intervals are something I thought young children would find difficult to hear / identify. One student suggested a game where “you play something and then another note a bit below it, and I have to say what the note is”. We graduated from that to doing simultaneous ones, and then I introduced her to the way intervals are identified, starting with the octave (octopus = 8) and that you count all the notes including both notes you are playing (otherwise you end up one out). She said “so if I play the top and bottom note on my harp it’s a 22nd?” (yes, on a 22-string harp). Then we did fifths, and it was an easy transition to her identifying tenths. That is pretty advanced for a young child - the whole thing took about 15 minutes, from her first suggestion to actually being able to identify the 10th. But mainly, it was a lot of fun for both of us, and if I’d have had to approach it more formally, I’m not sure how I would have done it without one of us losing the will to live. As it was, it was just so natural and painless.

Re: What have your students taught you?

On the other hand…keeping steady rhythms, or allowing the proper note-lengths when you have three beats in the bar where you have a short and then a long…no idea. I think it’s something children find difficult so if anyone has any magic cures for keeping good consistent timing going, I’d love to hear them. We’ve tried walking around the room, clapping, singing, etc - but none of it seems to embed that sense of solid rhyrhm.

Re: What have your students taught you?

The short answer is, a metronome, long recognised as the “magic cure for keeping good consistent timing going”.

Where I work there’s a drummer who plays eight half-hour sets every day. This guy probably has just about the best sense of timing of anyone around. You know what he does on his breaks? Sits with one stick and a practice pad and a metronome going click click click and strikes the pad at each click, to hone his sense of timing even more. He could be sitting out back smoking a cigarette or hanging out with the other musicians or reading a book, but no, he spends his free time with a metronome.