Four-Part Music Lesson
As a bass teacher, I have a two-part development track: audiation (i.e. thinking music), and technique (i.e. physical skills). I attack this dual approach with four teaching blocks in every lesson:
Often times, the challenge we’re fighting is not that kids don’t know how to play their instruments; rather, it’s that kids are not audiating music. They cannot hear, differentiate, or match pitch, they have trouble keeping a steady beat, they don’t hear tonal function. The best way to address this is directly, through listening, imitating, moving, and singing activities without instruments.
Part of being a great musician (and especially a great improvisor), is building a large repertoire of tunes, in your mind and body, that you can call upon when you’re creating or learning new things. In Jamz, we learn simple tunes and root melodies (like Hot Cross Buns), building rep quickly and jamming with different resting tones and tonalities. Instruments yes, sheet music no.
Now to the more-traditional teaching blocks. Technique is when we work on whatever physical skills they are developing at the time. For instance, body position, bow hold, hand frame, thumb position, shifting, bow strokes, etc. This is time to get in the weeds with the ins and outs of how, physically, to express the musical things living in their audiation.
Finally, I move to whatever rep they’re working on, either for me in private lessons, or for their school ensembles. If it’s rep from me, chances are that it matches where they’re at developmentally, YAY! If it’s rep for ensembles, there’s a good chance that it’s doesn’t (BOO!), so if we need to, we go out of sequence and bootleg their technique to meet the challenges.
I believe that with these four blocks, I’m able to address and develop student students’ musical and technical needs in tandem. More importantly, I believe that through this process, I help students grow into independent musical thinkers, creators, and enjoyers for whom music is an enriching, joyful, vital, force.