When I came out of Berklee College of Music and started to teach in Chicago I wrote a lot of exercises to prepare my lessons. It was, a the time, done by hand and I had to make copies at the local copy store. It was long, cumbersome and expensive. But, like most of us back then, I didn’t have a computer at home.
Later on, we’re talking maybe 10, 12 years later, after one of my students had told me on the advantages of the digital world, I got myself a PC. The learning curve was not easy, let me tell you, and I thought it was not cheap either because between the machine, the screen, the printer and the music programs, I got so broke I was going to walk bare feet and shirtless into the modern world.
That was the opportunity to update all of my lessons. As I was putting my handwritten exercises to the digital format, I took the opportunity to add a few more pages to complete the set. My experience had told me that, sometimes, I was putting my students in front of too big of the mountain when I was giving them hand outs with 28 exercises on them (Rock Approach B, anybody?).
We are now into a new era. I know it because we went from an analog/digital world to a digital/digital world. In other words, from in person lessons to online lessons. These days, I do both. Some people prefer online, some want to show up in person. I set up my studio for me to be at least 8 feet away from my student, I have a great digital webcam and a powerful internet connection, so I do both.
And, as you guessed correctly, that has given me the opportunity to have another look at my teaching. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I’ll say this, I just finished writing about 400 pages of new exercises that allow me to cater to my student in a more careful and simple way. I also made some music that goes along those PDF, a little something that people can play along with to make sure they try whatever pattern they’re studying in a musical situation. That is a lot of work. But Covid-19, forcing us all to stay at home, afforded me a lot of time for the task.
The results is that I am now able to explain any concept, no matter how complex, in a more palatable way. I am more relax during the lessons and the students are having more fun. And a happy student is a returning student. So, as I am embarking on my third stage of teaching, I am inviting everyone to come take lessons with me to experience what I am going on about.