We all know these teachers… they’re the top of their class, the ones that get results, the festival winning teachers, the ones who are usually quite difficult to get in with.  Well i had one of these teachers who was considered “the BEST”.  Sadly, music became a bit of a chore… it became snapping rulers of “an-i-ma-ted a-lli-ga-tor” 16th notes at 120 bpm.  If you study advanced music you know EXACTLY what i’m talkin’ about.  The general rule of thumb seemed to be, however “If it’s fixed, it doesn’t need mentioning”.  To-Do lists then became the focus of piano lessons… as it should be.  The work still needs to get done right? Well…needless to say – a dozen more years and a diploma and a degree later i started teaching on my own.  I was hired by a really small college to do part of the music program.  I distinctly remember one piano student… forever burned into my psyche.  I was 21 years of age. Who would’ve thought this one encounter would change my teaching for the next 20 years?  I remember her finishing a piece… some Chopin etude.  I started in “Right.  Ok well let’s get on to what needs fixing”.  She started to cry :(  Obviously something was wrong.  I am sensitive to student’s feelings and so i asked her what was wrong.  She turned to me with big tears and said “Is nothing right? Every time i play it’s just another list of fixes, of refinements”.  My heart sank.  Had i grown so calloused and inherently taken on the methods given to me? Had i missed the forest for the trees? The enjoyment of music and the positive reinforcements not mentioned and the ‘job’ of music was only in my crosshairs?

I sat for a moment.

I was taken back.

I decided to change my ways.  I apologised.  I promised myself that before any To-Do list came out of my mouth, positives would come first.  That day my teaching became “Ok first off, this is what i like about what you’re doing…” then i would start into heavies.  Whether teacher or parent, it’s a good reminder to offer LOTS of praise.  At the same time the words “critique” and “critical” have become smeared together in this present age.  I welcome critique.  Anything constructive to better my playing… i’m all ears.  The careful balance as i see it is to remain a critical thinker without becoming critical.  We need to grasp the enjoyment of music first… the enriching part of music to our souls above and beyond any task at hand.

With that in mind… check this out -> Protege of Oscar Peterson… a little bit of Tom and Jerry :) Just for fun…

Click on the picture for the youtube video. Cheers.