Monday, August 27, 2012
Let's Change Perspective
I always write this blog from the perspective of a student of music simply because that's what I am. I do tutor kids occasionally in music and the saxophone, but I'm still a student myself. In this post, however, I want to talk about what instructors must go through and what it is they do for their students, because while learning the inner functions of music may be difficult, teaching it is a whole other thing.
Probably the most basic part of teaching music, or anything really, is to know about your subject completely. In order to ask a good question you must first know the entire answer. You've got to have a complete knowledge of what it is you're teaching to your student, and you need multiple ways of explaining it. Everybody learns and understands information just a little different than everybody else. This makes instructing a room full of individuals very challenging.
One-on-one tutoring gets easy enough after a while. At first you need to get to understand the student, and you need the student to get to understand you, but after this everything falls into place as a routine comes to form. Group instructions, such as a community concert band or school concert band, is something different. Some bands are huge while some are smaller, but all have more than one person, making band instruction a challenge. While I've never done this, I have instructed a section, so I can tell you for sure that getting multiple people to understand your instruction completely feels impossible. I imagine band instructors have to be the kind of persons who aren't easily frustrated- otherwise nothing would get done.
Besides the fact that there are many individuals, each one of those individuals in a band plays an instrument and resides in a section (corresponding to that instrument), of which there may be many. I get stressed out just thinking about it, but I do find solace in the fact that there are usually senior players in each section that can diffuse know-how upon his or her junior players. Militarily, the instructor is a general while the section 'leaders' are his or her captains. The captains have the general's back, as they help to drive the band forward.
Inevitably a band is fairly similar to one-on-one tutoring. You can think of the band as one person, so that the single 'person' is instructed by the single instructor. With this, all the information instructed is essentially the same, but with more emphasis on the pieces at hand. Even then, a lot of the time I tutor is to guide a student through pieces.
With both similarities and differences between tutoring and band instruction, regardless, I feel fortunate to know that any band instructor will have some prime experience with which to teach. In the high school I graduated from, I was very lucky to have a superb concert band instructor. It's instructors like those that make anyone able to be part of a functioning band, and I think we need to give them credit where credit is due: it isn't an easy job.