A painting+ a word about teaching piano

I’ve been busy as usual. I did 3 plein air paintings last Thursday. Here’s one:

Dendy beach plein air aug 2018 SMLTHIS

I’ve been working on the band album, plus I did the usual  Arts Market on Sunday….and piano teaching: I teach 35 students on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

I think about teaching a lot. I constantly evaluate my teaching methods, my curriculum. 

There’s a lot to be said for teaching the arts. Recently I’ve been  thinking about how much of a meditation the arts are: Playing an instrument, dancing, painting a picture… the very process of each can make you feel like you’ve been sitting on a beach for a couple of hours. 

dream awake

The focus required means you leave all your worries behind. Your chatterbox self can’t get a word in. Your potential for balance is awakened. Your logical part of your brain is engaged, recalling techniques, the theory and physical movements required. Your right brain is engaged in the ‘art’ of the moment: how it feels to have notes rolling beneath your fingers, the images flow on the tune. At some point in the process , you realise you are in the zone. 

As a teacher, I’m in the zone. I change my teaching style from student to student, often from minute to minute if that’s what required for a student.

Each student’s perception, area of natural understanding, is different. Some like numbers, others note names… I use colours on the sheet music to guide the hands and to mark time, in an effort to get the brain away from counting, (once  thats been done….) so the student gets the feeling of being in the groove. That’s how it feels to be in a band. 

I wouldn’t last a week teaching if it weren’t also a sort of meditative state for me. I am totally focussed. With wee ones ( 5 -11 year olds) it helps to be an entertainer. An emphasis on fun is a big part of the keeping the flow happening. 

I believe a certain amount of learning is done through some sort of osmosis. Plus a sort of ‘seeing is believing’ process , too: ‘If the teacher can play these notes in a row ( slowed down and in time), then I can too’ sort of thinking ..

audience 1 or 1000

At times I have my doubts…the old imposter feeling. I have no formal qualifications. I am grateful for the teaching position I have at Hampton Primary and teach to the best of my ability.

My students are all going along at different rates. Their progress is dependent on so many different variables: Passion for it, ability to focus, ability to really learn in the moment, ability to let go of whatever may have been happening before the lesson, most of all: the ability to be still, be clear of mind and be able to really listen. 

A lot of what I teach can then be applied to other areas of the students life: the focus,  the work ethic, the discipline, the drive to progress , the ability to keep it enjoyable.   

Good communication would be the key. An effective teacher/ student  relationship is based on mutual respect. This requires the teacher to remain the learner- and I have learned so much from my students. There needs to be give and take- especially with the young ones- for how much is expected to be learned in one lesson, one week, one year.

The creative path is not a linear process. This is another reason why it’s so good for you. Coming to an understanding of the  different aspects of the theory happens differently for each student. If they latch onto scales you can show the relationship to chords…melody your interest? Give it something to rest on… Here’s some chords, the bass line, what’s the rhythm? …and so on. 

crativity journey

Music is much like drawing. Instinctively we all know when a melody does not fit with the music backing.  We can all tell when a face is not drawn correctly (if realism is what is trying to be achieved). So with arrangements of songs, we go with what sounds right instinctively- particularly when we have a look at ‘ad-libbing’. 

I love that the students enjoy playing my compositions …

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 11.47.26 pmhttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/search?Ntt=pete+pascoe

I see my main job as a teacher as this: to guide to the surface that which is already inherent in the student – and then for me to get out of the road. 

My aim is for the student to eventually have the necessary theory and musicality to rearrange sheet music to suit their level of ability.  A big part of my approach is: that I am teaching so the student has fun, enjoys playing. That would be the goal. There is a time and place to challenge oneself in any pursuit. But it is equally important for the student to remain in a comfortable pool on the river of learning long enough to keep the enjoyment. 

There is no rush. The next Beethovens will take care of themselves. 

This is a deep process, I feel honoured to be entrusted with introducing the theory/ how to play music to young people. 

building a dream

It requires much patience as a teacher. This comes easily when I am I the zone. Ultimately, it is a form of meditation in itself. It takes an enormous amount of energy. And I couldn’t begin  to teach this many lessons each week if I wasn’t connected to a power greater than myself- the aspect of ourselves we engage when we do that which comes naturally to us. 

Like any uplifting aspect of being human, there is always more to the picture. 

Of course, It’s great to see students progress. One of the things I enjoy most is watching a student perform for other people. The pleasure the performer is feeling, the choice made to share it with others. The pleasure the audience feels -again, it’s communication. the reward for work done. 

It’s a very nice thing to passing on, I’m enjoying it very much. 

Here’s a song I wrote about/for the students  I teach at the primary school I teach piano at. I wrote it one morning before lessons. (it’s also for my kids). The line about the bell was inspired by the school bell that sounded as I wrote the 2nd verse.

you can hear it here: https://petepascoe.bandcamp.com/track/one-thing-we-know

One Thing We Know BC

ONE THING WE KNOW Words & Music © P. Pascoe

I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE GROWING SO FAST
EYES ON THE FUTURE, YOU’RE FREE FROM YOUR PAST
LOVING YOUR LIFE IS THE THING YOU DO BEST
DOING WHATS RIGHT AND FORGETTING THE REST

ONE THING WE KNOW IS TO LET IT ALL GO

AS I LOOK THROUGH YOUR EYES I REMEMBER BEING YOUNG
AWAIT THE SURPRISE AND THE BELL WILL BE RUNG
ALWAYS IMAGINE THE BEST YOU CAN BE
TAKE WHAT YOU KNOW AND THE REST YOU WILL SEE

ONE THING WE KNOW IS TO LET IT ALL GO

I HEAR VOICES INSIDE ME
I DONT KNOW WHAT THIS LIFE’S GONNA BE
I FEAR NOTHING

ONE THING WE KNOW IS TO LET IT ALL GO

 

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