Thoughts on teaching

At some points I can’t imagine myself not teaching.  For me, I’m constantly thinking about new ways to approach an improve my own lessons and classes.  During my Mondays in Round Rock, I probably have the most opportunities for success (or failure) in my private lessons.  Yesterday, I was thinking about several aspects of my own teaching that other teachers might resonate with or be able to take back to their own studios.

1) You are responsible for the success of the student: The burden is unfortunately on your shoulders as a teacher, even if the student doesn’t quite ‘get it’ or is having a hard time.  Let’s be honest, teaching is not easy, and it’s something that takes years of practice and experience to become a master teacher.  Also, it’s something that is very free-flowing, changes constantly, and is not predictable, which is something I actually like!

2) Make the best use of your time: Lessons are often to short, and a week is a long time between lessons.   Make sure you know what you would like to accomplish (this may take the form of a lesson plan, or a quick brush-up on notes from last lesson), and make sure the student knows what they need to practice during the week (be clear about specific sections, spots, fingerings, memorization, etc.)

3) Teaching can be divided into right-hand and left  hand skills:  Many students I’ve worked with don’t know what to pursue or how to make better music.  Your job is to be both a person of inspiration and a technical ‘guru’ (for lack of better term), therefore those technical aspects can be further divided between right-hand (bowing) and left-hand (intonation, shifting, vibrato) motions.  Both are separate, in a sense, but both have to be able to work together.

4) Teaching is both preparation and inspiration:  Many lessons I plan out very well don’t go according to plan, other lessons I barely have time to think about what to teach and they go beautifully.  In other words, it’s great to make plans, but there are so many factors in teaching lessons that sometimes you have to teach based on your core pedagogical principles and concepts of good musicmaking.


About tunedin4ths

David Ballam Doctoral Student at the University of Texas at Austin Doublebass Instructor: UT String Project & Round Rock School District BLOG: WEB:
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