Do you ever wonder "why did I do that?" after the fact and then have no way of getting yourself out of it? I kind of am feeling that way right now. I've entered a local music festival competition. You can enter a maximum of 8 classes and I'm in 7. I have quite the eclectic mix of things that I'm playing too! All the way from Bach, to stuff written in the last 15 years! My program of pieces for this competition which has to be played in a little over a month from now consists of: Barber violin concerto, Beethoven Sonata No. 8, Bach C major sonata (luckily just the largo), Vieuxtemps Souvenir d'Amerique, Robinovitch Adieu Babylon and the Caprice No. 1 by Gary Kulesha. All I can say is, I better not have to play the Souvenir d'Amerique right after playing the Barber, or I'm a dead performer!
Alright - done venting!
I've been teaching for two months now. It never fails to amaze me how completely different each student is. Not just as people, but in their playing, where they lack and excell in skill and their general approach to the instrument. Some of the students treat their instruments like a delicate piece of china, scared to press into the strings for fear of breaking something, others who would consider their instruments a good ball and who you constantly are trying to keep their attention so they don't drop their bows or violins as they tell you about their week the moment after you've explained something to them.
How do you get really talkative kids to be quiet and actually appear to have listened to what you've told them? Creative analogies? I thought my rag doll one the other day was pretty good.... How do you tell a student who loves their lessons, but is so incrediably hyper and excited the whole time that they are dropping their instrument and talking and bouncing around, that they need to calm down without hurting their feelings?
I am loving teaching. Each student is presenting it's own challenges for me and the best part is it's never the same. You have to constantly be thinking. You can't use the same analogies over and over, if you find yourself doing that, you obviously haven't made something work the first time, so you have to be creative, and you are always having to think. Then there is the challenge of "well this kid has a bow problem, but she also has a left hand tension problem" which of these do I work on this week and what can be allowed to rest for another week?
I have a few very talented kids in "my" studio. One child in particular who fascinates me is a child with autism, a very high functioning autistic child, this kid has some major talent when it comes to music. Half an hour is too short a lesson to cover things with him I find, I always want to spend more time with him. What is it about a student who excells at it or has obvious potential, that makes you just want to keep the door closed and keep working on stuff even though you know there is another student sitting out there? This student has a really beautiful sound, excellent intonation, catches onto things fairly easily, and when you get him engaged the magic that happens when he plays and when he's learning is really a phenomenal thing and makes my day so much better then it already was!
It really takes a special kind of person to teach, I think. There are so many wonderful performers out there today, but do they really posses the skills to teach? I think, probably more often then not, they don't, or their ability to explain multiple sides of playing the violin is limited. The more I teach, and the longer I teach, the more I enjoy it and love it, but ultimately, I'm gaining a much huger respect for the teachers I've worked with who really can teach well and who truly are passionate about their students. I really have a profound respect for the teachers who are selfless in themselves and put their students first because they fully believe that that child deserves the opportunity or attention. I feel so incrediably blessed and lucky to have that with my teacher.
Another cool thing about teachers and students. I love how when you have a student who really likes taking lessons with you, and who seems to be getting a lot out of them, at the end of a lesson gives you a hug or asks their Mom to leave because they want to be alone with you, or when you know them outside of the violin world as well. It's exciting when the student feels enough closeness to you to tell you about something exciting that happened to them at school or at swimming or at dance. That openess, and no fear and ability to connect I think, I hope enhances the learning experience for my students. I know it enhanced mine with my teacher. She's a person I feel totally comfortable and at ease with and she always made my violin lessons the highlight of my week. I was always really excited to go to my lessons (still am!) even if it's going to be a lesson of pure technique, because of that connection and huge enthusiasm on my teachers part (not over-done enthusiasm, but a sense of "I know you can do this and you'll be all the better of a player for doing so! come see the bonds it will release and I'll help talk you through getting them undone")it makes me want to work harder and be the best I can be at it and makes me more willing to work hard on it.
Thank you to all the really awesome teachers out there! You are all an inspiration in my everyday practicing and teaching.
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