On teaching

Magenta

Platinum Member
Ok, here's my two penn'orth:

Western society has long viewed children/young people as a manifestation of the Devil, and treated them as such (see Michael Morpurgo, "The Invention of Childhood"). It was the norm, and nobody turned a hair or batted an eyelid. This was a phenomenon of its time.

More recently, considerably more enlightened views have obtained. Children/young people are acknowledged as individuals. They are listened to, and what they have to say is regarded as valid - and thank goodness for it. This is why historic child-abusers are now being brought to account. If these victims had known that they would have been believed decades ago, many children would have been saved.

As for "hard" vs. "soft", the hardness should come from the individual: "I'm not good enough, I have to do better." The softness should come from the teacher: "You are good enough to do better." And it's the teacher's job to motivate the student to be hard on him/herself.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Mikel,

Bo is correct the boy is in college. He plays because that's what is in him. It's in every breath he takes. It's more then a love of playing. It's who he is. He is 1,000,000 times more intense about it then most people will ever be including myself. At 19, he and his school colleagues play at a level most of us couldn't dream of. He is chasing greatness.

Sorry if it comes off as being pushy sporting parents that's not even close to what this is. It's very hard to understand for people not familiar with conservatory situations.

As for the agreement we have, it is in jest as this child eats, sleeps and breathes the percussion world.

BigD
If he is 19 then he is an adult, not a child, that puts a completely different slant on the whole thing. I was not taking a pop, just being a big mouth, as usual.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
If he is 19 then he is an adult, not a child, that puts a completely different slant on the whole thing. I was not taking a pop, just being a big mouth, as usual.
I think it's novel that we still use a measure of time to determine the maturity of another person. Silly humans.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I think it's novel that we still use a measure of time to determine the maturity of another person. Silly humans.
But that's how it is. On the one hand, if it's your kid, and he's just not growing up yet, you forgive that and hope they get along like they're supposed to. But if I'm the adult watching stupid kids do what stupid kids do, then I'm frustrated that the rest of us have to deal with somebody being "only a lad". We often say things like "when is that guy going to grow up?"

And for many, 18 is that magic number (24 now for that kid to be buying his own health insurance too - so they get a break there). At 18, if you commit crime, you are now tried as a adult. Yes, its crazy to assume that at a certain age you're emotionally and mentally ready to be an adult, but those are the breaks. And I know, I have people here at work in their later 30s that I just wouldn't trust to make an important decision because they haven't been cooking in the oven long enough, but fortunately I don't have to be responsible for them.

At a certain point I didn't want to continue to be a burden on my parents, and I started pulling my own weight. It got even better when I finally realized I can make happen whatever I want to make happen. A lot of people don't get that either, those are the ones you see standing around waiting for something to happen to them.

I'm sorry, maybe this is one of those topics I shouldn't have brought up, like politics. This is so determined by what we personally want to believe in. I get Grunters points about being the guide, yet I wonder how good I would've gotten had no one "kicked me in the arse" for being musically stupid on some things. I mean, I'm always grateful for the things that people have asked me to do, and I know just being able to do that is a lot of time spent in the practice rooms getting my act together, but I wonder if I would've gotten to that level without getting kicked around about it. Or, had I been guided by a friend instead, maybe I would've had an even better career?

I don't play Monday-morning quarterback very well, so I won't ;)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I think it's novel that we still use a measure of time to determine the maturity of another person. Silly humans.
I was talking legaly not emotionaly. I am 63 and still dont considder myself a "grown up". In Britain you can vote at 18, I wont even begin to describe what might happen if voting was "maturity" tested.
 

geezer

Senior Member
I work in education and one thing I'm a firm believer in is, as an instructor, making an effort to learn something brand new myself on a regular basis - it allows me to empathize with my students and connect with that feeling of inability to grasp a concept, or clumsiness with the mechanics of something. It's easy to become frustrated with students when something seems so clear to you because you've been doing it for so long, but for the novice they can't get their head around it. I'm pretty bolshy and wouldn't respond well myself to someone berating me in the name of "teaching". Someone else already mentioned drive coming from within and I agree - I think teachers can inspire students but ultimately the drive has to come from themselves. From the age of 11 onwards I played drums and guitar a minimum of 3 hours a day, every day, because I wanted to, not because of parental pressure or being pushed by a teacher.

I do think Anthony has a point though, as regards a generation of kids/young adults who are being raised to be helpless. I see a common thread in many of my students who are in their early '20's (I'm in my forties by the way) where they lack problem solving skills and just expect all the answers to be handed to them on a plate.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
The older generation always thinks the last generation were pussies. That's probably been happening since tribal times. The gentrification of teaching is symptomatic of broader society.

It was once thought that "the stick" approach was the most efficacious but studies consistently demonstrated that rewards get better results than negative feedback. That's generally. Some individuals, however, need a prod to get going and do best with "tough love". Others prefer to self motivate and find rudeness more of an immature distraction than a motivator.

A perceptive and flexible teacher will adapt to suit a student's best mode of learning for the particular material.
 

julius

Member
If someone is teaching me drums I expect them to be completely blunt and honest about my drum playing.

I don't expect them to attack my character or make judgments about what kind of person I am based on my playing. If I'm not working as hard as I should at a lesson, then by all means say so. But don't assume I am lazy and don't want to do the lesson...maybe other things in my life have priorities. That is a really fine distinction which some teachers are unable to make.

If, of course, you equate criticism of your playing with criticism of yourself, well, I am not sure how you learn. I'm not on your planet.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Olympic level coaches give 3x more praise than criticism.

I loved Whiplash (but had to work to ignore the inaccuracies). I've run into teachers who did this to their students - some still do and don't get fired. If a student doesn't complain, nothing happens.

Music is about connection, not about working hard. Yes, you have to drive yourself to be the absolute best, but what is the point of it, for your student? The point is to make good music, you can't do that when you have someone yelling at you. If they need to work on their physical technique or their knowledge or musical technique, then there are ways of getting them to do it, if they want. Punishment is a terrible motivator that will kind of work, but NEVER outperform honest, intrinsic motivation from someone who *wants* to hear honest feedback to improve. A teachers job is to uncover that motivation and provide feedback and direction.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
If someone is teaching me drums I expect them to be completely blunt and honest about my drum playing.

I don't expect them to attack my character or make judgments about what kind of person I am based on my playing. If I'm not working as hard as I should at a lesson, then by all means say so. But don't assume I am lazy and don't want to do the lesson...maybe other things in my life have priorities. That is a really fine distinction which some teachers are unable to make.

If, of course, you equate criticism of your playing with criticism of yourself, well, I am not sure how you learn. I'm not on your planet.
If you are paying someone to teach you then there is a huge difference between them being honest and being abusive.

If the instructor feels you are not making progress there are realy only two answers.

A: For whatever reason you have not done the work. Lazieness, lack of time etc etc.

B: You find the lesons less than interesting or motivating, so you dont want to put in the time. Discuss this with the teacher, or find a teacher that motivates and makes it interesting so you do want to work at it.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
What I like most about Whiplash is it has generated conversations like this about drums and teaching. Even if you hate the movie, I think this stuff is interesting to talk about.

I just have trouble believing there is a single correct approach to teaching. I'd like to see some studies that try to correlate results with different styles of teaching. I'm sure they exist, I just haven't bothered to look for them.

Without knowing the answer, I would speculate that different styles work with different students. Some might respond to a soft approach while others might need a harder kick in the ass.

The argument Fletcher makes in the movie that greats won't become great without being beaten into achieving it seems like it might apply to some, but not all. I think some people are so self-motivated to become great that such an approach isn't necessary at all, they just need a road map on how to get there, without the boot camp part.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
What I like most about Whiplash is it has generated conversations like this about drums and teaching. Even if you hate the movie, I think this stuff is interesting to talk about.

I just have trouble believing there is a single correct approach to teaching. I'd like to see some studies that try to correlate results with different styles of teaching. I'm sure they exist, I just haven't bothered to look for them.

Without knowing the answer, I would speculate that different styles work with different students. Some might respond to a soft approach while others might need a harder kick in the ass.

The argument Fletcher makes in the movie that greats won't become great without being beaten into achieving it seems like it might apply to some, but not all. I think some people are so self-motivated to become great that such an approach isn't necessary at all, they just need a road map on how to get there, without the boot camp part.
As I say, everyone is different and finds motivation, or is motivated, in different ways. There will be masochists who thrive on being verbaly abused, and worse, but very few I would guess.

At work we had a manager who was a biggot and a bully and a few people would work hard for him. Lately we have a manager who is a real people person, leads from the front and cares about his team. Everyone on the staff now goes the extra mile for this guy cos they also care about him.

Why give yourself, and those you manage or teach, the constant stress of bullying and shouting and having to check things are done to your liking, when being nice and caring about others as personalities works so much better and everyone is happy and motivated. There are nice ways to kick someones arse if they are not doing what they should.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I had a similar experience at the conservatory I attended... not as harsh as whiplash, but it wasn't all hand-holding and love either.

My first ensemble, the professor gave us his own arrangement of a Cole Porter trunk song (Everything I Love) which was in 7/4.

All the players had just met and were of varying skill levels. We didn't even make it out of the A section before we stopped and each of us got ripped apart. I distinctly remember the teacher telling the pano player he played like a "See You Next Tuesday".

By the end of that semester, we'd all learned so much and were really tight. And we the teacher began to warm up to us. I think he even told me once that my solo "wasn't bad at all".

Fast forward to working as a gigging musician, and I've had to deal with the same sorts of issues with band leaders.

Being a musician is just like any trade (carpentry, plumbing, et cetera) we learn through the apprenticeship model, and then get cut loose and have to make it on our own out in the world. If you don't have thick skin, you won't last very long.

Bottomline is that it might be harsh, but it prepares you for the realities of being a musician. It's enormous fun, but it's a cutthroat world, and it's highly competitive. You don't want to end up completely bitter and jaded, but you do need to form some callouses.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I had a similar experience at the conservatory I attended... not as harsh as whiplash, but it wasn't all hand-holding and love either.

My first ensemble, the professor gave us his own arrangement of a Cole Porter trunk song (Everything I Love) which was in 7/4.

All the players had just met and were of varying skill levels. We didn't even make it out of the A section before we stopped and each of us got ripped apart. I distinctly remember the teacher telling the pano player he played like a "See You Next Tuesday".

By the end of that semester, we'd all learned so much and were really tight. And we the teacher began to warm up to us. I think he even told me once that my solo "wasn't bad at all".

Fast forward to working as a gigging musician, and I've had to deal with the same sorts of issues with band leaders.

Being a musician is just like any trade (carpentry, plumbing, et cetera) we learn through the apprenticeship model, and then get cut loose and have to make it on our own out in the world. If you don't have thick skin, you won't last very long.

Bottomline is that it might be harsh, but it prepares you for the realities of being a musician. It's enormous fun, but it's a cutthroat world, and it's highly competitive. You don't want to end up completely bitter and jaded, but you do need to form some callouses.
Not so. I was an apprentice back in the late 60s, in a factory, the old 10,000 hours tradesman. The people were fantastic. You had to grow up fast but I was never more nurtured and helped, by both my tradesman/mentor and the toolroom manager. My abiding memories of the 5 years are of constant laughs and great jokes. The work had to be done but its done better if you enjoy it. Wonderfull times.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Not so. I was an apprentice back in the late 60s, in a factory, the old 10,000 hours tradesman. The people were fantastic. You had to grow up fast but I was never more nurtured and helped, by both my tradesman/mentor and the toolroom manager. My abiding memories of the 5 years are of constant laughs and great jokes. The work had to be done but its done better if you enjoy it. Wonderfull times.
I would almost argue that your situation is not the same thing as going out to land a spot in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, however. Or, dare I say, a spot with a big entertainment corporation where hundreds show up for a crack at getting one of three positions. Or is it?
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I would almost argue that your situation is not the same thing as going out to land a spot in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, however. Or, dare I say, a spot with a big entertainment corporation where hundreds show up for a crack at getting one of three positions. Or is it?
I was just responding to a post comparing the conservatory experienc to an apprenticeship. Thats all. I served the old apprenticeship and was not brutalised by it to "Grow up" or get tough. You tend to toughen up as you mature anyway and lose your innocence.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I was just responding to a post comparing the conservatory experienc to an apprenticeship.
I guess I've always compared the musician part to the apprentice model, not necessarily the conservatory part.

Maybe not all the trades are susceptible to the fierce competition that we face in music. Also unions could be a factor, I have several friends that are in the musician's union, and they (almost) never have to worry about finding work. (although they all complain about senority...until they have seniority).

In the same way that we might run into recent Berklee grads taking a gig that we would have got because they charge less, I thought other trades would run into younger kids constantly undercutting them. Maybe it's a little more pronounced in music...
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Abusive behavior on either the student or teachers part is bad teaching/learning theory.

Abusive behavior on either a band leader or band members part is bad business theory.

Abusive behavior is usually justified with some idiotic rational...nothing justifies it.
 
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