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Risky trivia

For the longest time I thought that my students were only interested in the data. If I was teaching piano or drums, it had to be about technique and what’s on the page. I was forgetting something, students are people and music is a universe, when the two meet there is a great amount of sparks.

What gave me a clue was that my students were telling me about the different subjects they were doing some research in. It could be the life of a composer or a band, or the study of a style through the songs of an era, it could also be with a series of books or videos. In other words, their passion for music was starving for information.

That’s when I decided to incorporate in the lessons different little trivia and facts. I was brief and shy about it. I thought for sure that the parents would stop me and ask me to get back to the serious business of hand position, speed and nimbleness on the drums or the keys. But to my surprise, parents were very interested. Sometimes they even encourage me by asking a question their child had wondered about during the week. As for the adult student, their mind was also very active and my lectures became discussion that covered a wide range of topics.

Now that I am at peace with the process, I do not hesitate to share whatever I know. It could be about the life of the artists we study. It could be about a particular concept, a fun trivia (Did you know that there are different cities in the world that represent different styles of music?), a surprising fact (listening to Mozart improves speech patterns!), a dangerous pitfall (Musicians are the workers most plagued by addictions), or a helping advice (don’t get a convertible car if you want to carry your drums around).

Sharing these infos has had many benefits. First, it shows that I am listening to them and I am interested in the same things as they are.  Second it provides a fun respite in a lesson that can become too dry and didactic. Third, and more importantly, it helps to strengthen the relationship between them and their teacher because it shows that I also have the same questions and the same thirst to learn. And I prefer that my lessons have become a journey through a wonderland rather than crossing a dry desert.

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