I have taught privately and in the public setting. I currently have about 120 elementary string students k-5 at an urban magnet school. 95% of my students would simply not have this opportunity if the school did not provide it. Research shows the benefit of music study to brain development, so while I would love to have a class of little Midoris, I know that my job in the school setting is not to train virtuosos but to provide the best musical instruction possible while also considering the academic and social development of the students involved. In a public school, I must take all comers. It can be surprising who wants to learn a string instrument. I certainly see high achievers-one of my students who started in kindergarten is now a third grader and is the youngest member of our local youth orchestra. However, I also see students who are struggling academically or have some pretty difficult situations once they leave the school grounds. Those are sometimes the students who appreciate this opportunity the most. There is a Suzuki component to my program that requires parental involvement. The majority of my students use school instruments, and it is a struggle to have enough working instruments. They are not always exactly the right size, but we just make it work anyway. We absolutely work on correct posture and fundamentals, but large classes do limit more personalized attention. I teach both aural and notereading skills, but some success in this area is also dependent on the student's individual effort. My students develop very good rhythmic skills in a group setting as well as develop such nonmusical skills such as cooperation and responsibility. It can't necessarily be compared to the private setting, as that is a different type of learning environment.
Is teaching in a larger group sometimes frustrating? Certainly. Pacing is slower. But it is really no less frustrating than those private students who never seem to crack open their case at home.
I couldn't afford a private teacher until my junior year of high school, so if it weren't for the training provided by Mr. Piazza, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Lee, I would have never become a violinist!
This is my latest donorschoose.org project. My school received three 1/2 size violins from my first project. This time, I am asking for shoulder pads, rock stops, and lots of rosin. In our region, The Community Foundation of Central Georgia is matching donations so a donor's money goes twice as far. There are lots of other worthy projects as well.
More entries: September 2009
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