Teaching Children without an instrument

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Bryan_sop, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    I've recently taken on a young lad as a private Cornet student. After today's lesson (only my 2nd lesson with him) his mother commented that it was nice to hear me playing too. After asking her what she meant, she told me that his previous teacher, at school, never even got his instrument out during lessons.

    Is this a normal practice? I've only ever had 2 instrumental teachers. One from 8-18 and one at university, and they both used thier instruments during lessons. I would have thought that your instrument, as an instrumental teacher, is an essential tool when teaching youngsters. The other thing that I thought was strange/worrying, is that the same young lad did his grade 3 last week, 2 weeks after his last lesson! If I was entering someone for an exam, I wouldn't want them to go 2 weeks without a lesson beforehand?!
  2. jockinafrock

    jockinafrock Active Member

    Hmmm - the only time I ever taught without my instrument was when I forgot to take it with me! Doh! :oops:

    Pupils learn in a variety of ways, and being able to demonstrate what you want from them, alongside telling them, hopefully makes your intentions clearer.
    Maybe that teacher has psychic powers - or maybe he can't play ... :rolleyes:
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I think it really depends on the teacher and the instrument being taught. I certainly wouldn't have been helped along with my first teacher playing G trombone alongside, when he was from a couple of playing generations earlier. He opted to get me exposed to good playing, whether it was in a rehearsal of a good band, attending concert recitals or listening to recordings.
  4. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    My teachers always had an instrument to hand. Best Teacher I had always stood or sat next to me with his Cornet in his hand and I can not remember him putting it down for any significant length of time. It could feel like duet practice at times.

    Oh happy times!
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
  5. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Although I agree that demonstration is sometimes useful, it is not always a good teaching tool. It's all right to demonstrate how something should sound, but if you cannot explain how to make that sound, the demonstration is somewhat useless.

    For example, consider teaching someone the difference between legato and marcato playing. If you don't explain the differences in tonguing, etc., required to make the difference in style, is the demonstration really worth the time?
  6. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Upon reflection, I think the teacher just wasn't very good! I'm going to have my work cut out correcting the problems this lad has, all because his teacher was more interested in getting kids through exams....just, rather than working on things like technique, theory, tonguing........
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Hi Bryan,
    I've always gone by the principle that it's no good taking 10 minutes to explain something when it can be demonstrated in 30 seconds. The teacher that can't practice what he/she preaches isn't worth going to (some exceptions, of course).

    In reality, though, I find it often depends on the standard of student. With kids learning, I play a lot in the lessons. With more advanced players, I tend to play less, as they will more often know what is good and what isn't. At University level I might not play for weeks.

    Interestingly enough Bryan, I don't know if you were at the rehearsal that Martin Hurrell led at Cambridge, but I am told he picked up an instrument once or twice to demonstrate.

    Btw, I can't imagine who the previous teacher was that didn't play a note and just wanted to get kids through exams in order to make himself look good.......;)
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    I don't play in every lesson - with a lot of my students, they don't need to hear me play it, they want to demonstrate that they can.
    They are paying for me to hear their playing and correct it, they are not paying to hear me play Grade 1 music.
    This is not to say that I never play, but I don't necessarily play in every lesson - I will always have my instrument with me (well, one of them) and tend to use it to demonstrate specific techniques or stylistic interpretation, rather than to play them their pieces.

    I have heard some teachers who will demonstrate every piece for the student - much as I can see the benefit of students hearing their pieces being played at a (generally) pro level I feel that in many ways this can restrict the students ability to interpret the music their own way, they end up being clones of the teacher. I am hoping that those students who do take their music further than their studies with me (university and beyond) are aiming to be themselves and play as themselves, not an attempted clone of me.
    Yes, the way I teach/play does have an impact upon the way my students play, this is natural, but by not always demonstrating everything and allowing the students to discover things for themselves I find that they often end up having some very interesting views on how pieces should sound - which has been known to alter the way I view the music.

    Different teachers teach in different ways and I would never say that one way is "correct" and others "incorrect" - however, there are some TERRIBLE teachers out there - with just about every style of teaching being used. It's not the teaching style, it is the teachers, sadly.
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I certainly hope there are some exceptions! Mind you, it would have been interesting to see Archie Smith (my first teacher) trying Pandora on his G trombone. It's easier to lead by example if you happen to play the same instrument as your pupil.
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Of course. I had some lessons in my youth from Willi Watson. He hadn't played for years.
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Nor had my teacher. Never, ever heard him play.
  12. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    I actually intervieved for the company that he/she works for, and was told that the'd be glad to have me on board....and haven't heard anything since!
  13. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    If it's who I think it is, you are better off not touching them with a bargepole. Dubious contracts, terrible pay, terrible conditions, workplace bullying, no job security, rip-off on expenses, teaching-by-numbers. Shall i carry on?
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Sounds like banding to me, lol! :rolleyes:

    Back on topic, one2one teaching (leading by example) can be beneficial if the teacher is trying to get the pupil to step up a gear ... either technically, musically or both. Then the pupil can try to emulate.
  15. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Ahh good old Willi. He was teaching at anglia when I was there, ran the Brass ensemble too. He lost the feeling his lips or something? Still had top notch students that won the big prizes at the Paxman contests, but then, that's advanced level teaching. You can't teach a beginner without playing to/with them!
  16. TubaGeek

    TubaGeek Member

    My teachers have played with me in the past when I've had trouble with tongueing, embouchure etc. My teacher is a trumpeter and I play the tuba, so it wouldn't be the same him demonstrating a trumpet embouchure for me to interpret on the tuba, because he knows how to form a tuba embouchure, so he doesn't need to use his trumpet. I can remember lessons where we've played a couple of duets from book of tuba duets in bass clef (Concert pitch) and my teacher played along on trumpet transposing as he read it! :eek:
  17. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    My feelings exactly!
  18. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Was Martin the BBCSO guy? I was only there for one of his rehearsals ans he said himself that he wanted to play a march with us 'just to put it on his CV'......

  19. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Nail....head....but as we've already seen, there are exceptions!!
  20. Di B

    Di B Member

    Had two tutors, both euph players and neither played alongside me on a regular basis. One did play a couple of times and it was to show me how to shape a solo piece though.
    I was between the ages of 11 and 16 when I had lessons and never really expected different.

    When I have taught I adopt a similar style. I don't often play.
    Exceptions are playing to show young children what I want. It can be difficult for them to understand because of their age.

    The only player I sat next to and played when teaching was a 60 year old. For him, it was a lack of confidence and me playing helped this.