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Teachers as learners

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  • #86943
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Years ago I read somewhere that anyone who teaches should learn something new every year, so that the experience of being a learner is fresh in one’s mind. This idea has resurfaced in my conscious memory since I (a) started learning the harp and (b) found that my students are absolutely fascinated by the fact that I’m taking lessons in something entirely new. (You’d think late teen/twenty-somethings would have more exciting lives, but it seems that sagas of a middle-aged academic taking music lessons on a genteel instrument are hot stuff on the student grapevine.)

    It came up in conversation with one of them a few months ago and then the word seemed to spread like wildfire. Now it seems that every undergraduate I stumble across wants to know how the harp lessons are going. They aren’t interested in what pieces I’m playing or in my agonies over what kind of harp to buy. They want to hear about lessons and how I get on with my teacher. They especially like hearing about my incompetence. When I tell them that even though my teacher is a perfectly nice person, I get nervous playing for her and flub simple pieces I can play easily enough when I’m alone, their faces light up with knowing smiles. “That’s what it’s like in seminars with you” one of them said. It’s hard for me as a teacher really to believe this. I tell my students over and over that it’s good to take risks and make mistakes, because if they only ever say and write what is indubitably correct, they’ll just be parroting conventional wisdom or rehearsing what they already know. It’s hard to remember how scary it is to try something new, even when there’s no penalty for being wrong and even though your teacher is supportive and encouraging. I think I understand, existentially, more deeply now that I’m regularly facing my own absurd fears of bungling simple pieces on the harp.

    The teacher in me is watching the novice harpist learn, and as I do so, I wonder if others have ever had a similar experience of beginning to learn something completely different from what they teach, and whether they feel that experience made them a better teacher.

    #86944
    kay-lister
    Member

    Nina,

    #86945
    mr-s
    Member

    hi Nina, i just told my student one week ago that i am learning and discovering new abilities inside of me and didnt know it before its all by teaching, and thinking how to find many ways to solve the tchnical problems they face, thats really great.

    #86946

    Students appreciate knowing that their teachers had to go through some of the same struggles that they face. I have never forgotten what it was like to be a beginner at the harp, but a few years of studying flamenco dance certainly reminded me. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a task is impossible; well, sometimes it really is, but often all that is needed is time, talent and tenacity. When a teacher reminds their students that they were a beginner once, too, it helps the student see that they are on the same journey where others have gone before. It’s like hiking and finding a little cabin on the trail; you know you’re not lost.

    #86947
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I

    #86948
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Anyone who teaches can write volumes about the irritations presented by students and all of us sometimes succumb to the pleasures of carping.

    #86949
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I would think attending workshops would help, there are many for piano, always a new approach, that would probably be applicable to the harp.

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