My fantastic colleague and JMU professor of flute, Dr. Beth Chandler, has this phrase posted on the outside of her door for all to see. I pass by Dr. Chandler’s office multiple times each day and everyday I look at that sign. How can any student walking our hallway not notice that glorious sign? You know, that’s really all anyone needs to think about when preparing for his or her lesson.
If you’re thinking, “Geez, I just don’t know what Dr. Carrillo wants from me” I would say, consult that sign.
- Do you feel like you could have prepared better? (Consult sign)
- Do you feel like you really should have looked up all the words you didn’t know on your solo or etude? (Consult sign)
- Do you feel guilty for not having given the phrasing your all? (Consult sign)
One of the most important things a teacher can do is demonstrate. If you can demonstrate excellent phrasing, a warm sound, beautiful musicianship, and a deep love for music from the podium on your instrument you will be amazed how engaged your students will become. There is no need to tell your students what good phrasing is, pick up your trumpet and play the line for your alto saxophones. Want to get your low brass players hooked on Rochut? No problem, pick up the book and play one for them all the while demonstrating beautiful phrasing and your love of music. This, of course, will require you to be able to transpose and as we all know, transposition isn’t just for those orchestral folks. So no more complaining about transposition industry and education majors : ) When I was in Walker Junior High School Band (er.... in 1986) in lovely La Palma, CA I remember our teacher, Mr. Art May, constantly demonstrating. He showed us how music should be played. He didn't have to say, "hey kids, you should love playing music." It was written all over his face and came out of the end of his horn when he played. That was over 30 years ago and I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
When you prepare an etude for your lesson, I want to imagine as if you are about to perform it for the students in your band. What would they think about your performance? One day very soon you may find yourself in a position of great responsibility. And, by gosh, one of my own kids may be in your band : )
Think for a moment about some of the characteristics you would want in your students… You may want them to be:
- Respectful of the music
- Discriminating in their musical assessment
To paraphrase one of my mentors, Dr. Bob Duke, he might say your students will either be thoughtful, or they won’t. Your students will either be diligent, or they won’t. Your students will either be engaged, or they won’t. They will learn by what you make them do. What will you demand of your students and what will you ask them to do? Do you demand the same of yourself?