Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Brilliance in Brevity

Long teaching rants with too much information is not nearly as impressive as one powerful moment of inspiration. The teacher's mission is to discern the best way to communicate quickly and effectively with each student.  Just say it, or play it, and then get out of the way and see what happens.  The longer it takes to explain, the less successful. The goal is to make a lasting impact in the least amount of time. Needed: brevity and brilliance.

Think of the most impressive teaching you received. A vivid impression was made which you remember to this today.  That's the goal, a precise, well-planned strategy of instruction and inspiration. 

Here are a few memorable moments from my teachers which made a lasting impression on me:
  • "Don't play like a student!"
  •  "You could be a little more laid back."
  • "Your notes must speak just like that!" (at the snap of the fingers).
  • "In the orchestra you have to be able to play so (expletive) loud."
  • The Zarathustra octave calls were so shocking I could almost see the notes flying straight into the audience. 
  • With only a gesture, the conductor communicated exactly what he wanted without ever speaking a word.  (The best conductors spoke very little English.)
  • Without saying a thing, he picked up my horn and fixed my cracking F natural by blasting that note into its place.  He then returned my horn, satisfied that the problem had been permanently solved. It worked like a charm!
  • "Rhythm is relentless!" as he repeatedly pounded his hand onto the desk.
  • I thought my Pictures Promenade was really good.  Then came that memorable comment from the committee: "Very good. Now play it in tune." 

Great teaching can happen quickly, as can great learning. Keep a journal of what inspired you.  You'll need it for yourself and for your students.  Brevity and brilliance work wonders. 

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