Learning by Observing

One of my favorite things to do is watch other teachers teach. Anytime I get a chance to attend a masterclass, I jump on it because I’m sure that I’ll pick up some little gems that I can incorporate into my teaching. Our local music teachers association had a masterclass event several weeks ago from which I gleaned several teaching gems that I’ve been using a lot! Here are a couple:

1. Start duets with a gesture. I’ve been in a habit of counting in to start duets for a long time, but one of the masterclass teachers reminded me of the value of having the primo player lead into the duet with a slight gesture to cue the secondo player. I’ve been working on this concept with many of my students – it sure does look more professional than audibly counting in!

2. Be intentional with left hand phrasing. When working with a student on a piece that had a left hand arpeggiated chord accompaniment, the masterclass teacher discussed the three potential ways of phrasing it – all notes equal in volume, slight crescendo through the pattern, or slight decrescendo through the pattern. He had the student try each of the ways and then determine which was the most musical.

And then, of course, there was the recent experience observing my brother’s cello teacher that revolutionized my view of dynamics! 🙂 Last week and this week, I’ve had several students from one of our local universities observing lessons in my studio to fulfill one of their class requirements. I love opening my studio to these students because I know how much I have learned just by observing others!

Have you been to any masterclasses recently? Learned anything helpful that you’ve been able to apply in your teaching?

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