Music is not a sacred gift bestowed on a select few, it is a means of expression that we all have the capacity to develop. You don’t need to create a great work of art to be a worthwhile musician, you only have to believe in your innate ability to say something personal and expressive. Of course it’s very difficult to develop that ability all on your lonesome. That’s why I offer violin and viola lessons. Here is my teaching philosophy in three simple ideas.
- Stress – physical and mental – is the number one thing that prevents students from succeeding.
- Preparation and dedication trump stress.
- As long as a student tries their best, they will always reach their potential.
OK, maybe that was a little bit too succinct. A little fleshing out seems to be in order.
- The most consistent thing that I see in young players (“young player” referring to time spent with the instrument, not to age of the person) is a lack of efficiency of motion; most non-professionals simply don’t have a good understanding of how best to use their physical resources to their fullest potential. That’s not something that any of my students have to worry about, thanks largely to my experience with a teaching method known as the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique teaches a student to focus on how their body interacts with the instrument. Students are invariably surprised and enlightened when they discover how their playing instincts had actually been inhibiting their playing ability!
- The other side of stress is, of course, performance anxiety. Performance nerves are real, and for some people they can be quite challenging. This is where preparation and dedication come in. While there aren’t many ways to eliminate performance anxiety – the most tried and true method is simply to try, try again – there are lots of practice techniques designed specifically to enable people to manage their nerves. I have experience applying these techniques not only to my students, but to myself as well. These are tried and true methods that can overcome even the worst cases of stage fright.
- Your lesson time is just that – your time. My teaching style is centered around an idea of self-empowerment in which I listen to what your goals are, give you the tools and knowledge to achieve them, and then set you loose. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your experiences will feel good at the time. Many deep learning experiences include a period of self-discovery which can feel icky sometimes – after all, a wart has to be discovered before it can be removed. However, even if an experience feels like a failure, all a student must remember to turn it into a positive one, is that if it was possible for you to have done better, than you would have. There is a reason behind every experience that you are going to have in lessons and performance. Once we find out what’s motivating the less successful experiences, we can root them out.