Dr. N.A.N.'s Blog

News, views, and how the world skews from San Antonio, Texas

Archive for Teaching

I’m not napping, I’m listening

The other day while teaching a lesson, I noticed that my responses to the student’s performance seemed instinctive—I wasn’t pondering the situation like I have been known to do on so many other occasions. Now, it is possible that this instinct is actually the product of the thousands of piano lessons I have had and the endless hours of practicing (or banging my head against the wall). Regardless, my most inspired teaching seems immediate and without hesitation. I respond to what I hear and see. Sometimes, I’ll close my eyes to hear better. (On those occasions, I do reassure my student that I’m not napping.) I also find that asking questions of the student gives me insight into his or her way of thinking about the music. Questions I typically ask are: what color do you hear? Do you have a scene or image in mind while you are playing this piece? If not, do you hear dialogue? (I sometimes hear dialogue but not specific words—just inflection, rhythm (anger, sadness, joy, inquiry)) Answers to these questions help me guide the student to play with greater clarity.