November 18th, 2006

classic cylon

why the "firehose" educational method may not always work for music (part 1)

For the first time in several months, I was able to have an in-depth lesson with my piano teacher. Since I still have a couple of trouble spots with The Little Drummer Boy, I thought I'd play it for her and see if she could help me. I suspected that there might be other ways to finger certain passages, and as it turns out, I was right. She reworked several passages, not just changing fingerings but suggesting that they be played more legato (even though there are no legato markings in the music). She also told me that the passages I was working on are at a more advanced level than I'm currently at, and that if we hadn't missed so much time, she might have taken me in a different direction. Finally, I noticed that my right shoulder did not feel so tense after she reworked the passages, so perhaps the pain is due to the technique problems.

In places like MIT, you have the "firehose" effect in which lots of material is thrown at you and you try to get through it, somehow. People with more experience with the subjects tend to do better, but it's still a lot of work, mostly done without the guidance of the professor or lecturer. But this sort of thing may not apply very well to music (unless the student is highly trained). Even if the student is able to bring pieces to an acceptable level of proficiency, the technique used may be suboptimal and possibly harmful.

So the upshot of all this is that I really need regular lessons from a teacher at this stage of my learning. This may be difficult because my teacher won't be available regularly. She's still getting over the surgery, plus she now has a cabin on Mt. Shasta she and her partner spend time at.

Edit: modified subject
  • Current Mood