Learning from others.

I have been teaching since 1989. That’s before the dinosaurs. In that time, I’ve always taught drums. Only in the last 12 years have I taught piano.

I have been fortunate to be able to explain the different concepts of music to the students who have been asking for my help. I don’t have a hard time to understand what my pupil is going through, to walk in her shoes, so to speak, and propose a tailored way to approach playing their instrument.

But, sometimes, I got some help I didn’t think I would get. I want to talk about that.

When I started to study piano again, piling up 5 hours a day, I immediately looked for a good teacher. I found a few. They put me through my paces and expanded my possibilities. It was very exciting to discover new ways of looking at music. Each teacher had his own style, his own theories. I was practicing like a mad man (is there any other way?) the material they proposed. I became a better player.

What I didn’t predict was that I would become a better teacher. No, not just a piano teacher, a teacher in general. I picked up on the way they were articulating their curriculum, how they would build their exercises. Each one had developed a different “ladder” to get to the next level.

I was thrilled! I thought I was going to learn an instrument and I was learning an encyclopedic amount of stuff about how to teach.

The same phenomenon happened when I took some voice lessons. Several teachers help me expand the breathing and the vocal range. But I observe how they navigated the very tricky waters of kinesthetic (Definition: relating to a person’s awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs (proprioceptors) in the muscles and joints), the tricky waters of kinesthetic, or lack thereof  (Vocal cords do not have any nerve ending, people can damage them and not feel any pain).  It is not easy to tell someone: “Don’t do that, you might injure yourself without knowing!”  Vocal coaches deal with that kind of things all day long.

So, if you are a teacher reading this prose, go take lessons with someone, it’ll improve your teaching, it’ll show you a different set of skills. As a matter of fact, I know an excellent one in Piano and Drums.