Thursday, March 03, 2011

Before or After?

A colleague of mine mentioned an experimental approach he was planning to try this semester.

Basically, he would devote the lesson to coaching a student on new pieces before the student had time to practice them. You might call this doing "intro work."

I think the most common teaching/learning sequence goes like this..
  1. teacher assigns it
  2. student works on it
  3. student plays it in a lesson and teacher works on it
This new model (if I understood correctly) would be..
  1. teacher coaches student on it in a lesson
  2. student works on it
  3. in the next lesson, teacher coaches student on new pieces
Now, I know what you're thinking: where's the accountability? Well, I believe that comes in the form of playing tests a few times each semester in which the student must be able to play the pieces for a grade.
Bear in mind that these are college students I'm talking about. I realize that presenting a piece to a middle school band with regular rehearsals is a completely different animal.
It is an interesting idea. After all, it is harder to re-learn something after having learned it incorrectly. Why not get students off to a good start?
Of course, in some ideal world, we would have unlimited time for lessons and could devote quality time to both ends of the equation.
But usually, the clock is the enemy and another student will be waiting outside your door in one hour.
No big conclusions here because there is no one right way to always do it.

Still, I think it's something worth thinking about...

How much time do we, as teachers,
devote to the "before" side of teaching and how much to the "after" side?


Greg said...

I have wondered about this myself on many occasions with my own students and my own lessons as well. I guess it depends on the repertoire. If it's very similar to lots of other pieces a student has already successfully learned/performed, they should be fully able to begin learning a piece themselves. If, however, it's radically different (or more challenging) than anything they've played before, I think it's probably more important in that instance to prepare them before they start working on it. I'm guessing it also depends on the individual student as well.

Kevin said...

So I'm in high school and I'm about half way through the first volume of the Rochut book in my lessons. In my lessons, they start with lip slurs, scales, intonation, etc., and then we work on the etude that I had previously prepared. In the last five minutes or so, my teacher assigns me a new one and we briefly work on it so that I don't learn something wrong. I think that my money is better spent when my teacher helps me with the things that I had trouble with when I was practicing, although it is good to have a teacher show you how to practice something. I do think that it is best when my teacher helps me with things that I have prepared. It's kind of similar to math class--the teacher teaches the lesson and then assigns homework, but there is still time spent the next day explaining certain problems from the homework.