Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Subtlety of Learning

It's been too long since I last blogged. I live in awe of those teachers who are able to teach, take care of their business, participate in numerous other activities and pursuits and manage to find time to blog about it all.

As fall approaches, and I begin rallying my school-aged singers and pianists in preparation for the NATS Student Evaluations, performances, a studio recital, The Achievement Program (Carnegie Hall-Royal Conservatory) and MTAC Certificate of Merit (whew), I am reminded that too many of these students have little to no idea of how to study... how to deeply learn material... how to prepare their minds for the subtle aspects of becoming an artful musician, how to look for and then notice small improvements that lead to big changes, how to stop trying to "do" things that only interfere with the process, and how to focus on process over product.

Me: "Listening over and over again to someone sing the song is fine. But you also need to sit down at your piano and play the notes for yourself, learn to sing the song your way - not as a copy of a recording, speak the text, checking every word for pronunciation..." etc.

This is not what today's average singing student seems to want to hear. Deep learning and subtle learning aren't on their radar. Deadline for testing learning is what they get in school. Facts are crammed into their brains at the last minute, only to be forgotten after the test. This kind of learning does not produce artistry.

With all of this on my mind, I just stumbled upon this news story having to do with properly learning to meditate. There are interesting parallels to my teaching practice and philosophy. This article reflects the kind of teacher I aim to be, the kind of student I prefer to teach, and the kind of focused, self-less artists I hope to prepare for a world that is desperately in need of a few genuine, humble artists.

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