Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing™
By, Carol Anderson
Super Hero Teachers
Which of the many personal learning styles influence your teaching?
I have a BS in Psychology, and have been a certified Suzuki violin teacher for over twenty years, on the Board of Directors for the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Organization and I’m passionate about raising the bar on the quality of our teaching, modeling and lives.
It is my hope that the years of research, both in psychology and music, I share with you, will enhance your teaching experience.
It is important for teachers to know how to teach each student regardless of his or her learning style.
It is even more important for the teacher to know how they, themselves, learn.
Ultimately, these innate tendencies will dominate their teaching.
Try to focus on what you discover to be your strong points.
As time allows, work on your weaknesses, but don’t focus on them. It is a natural tendency to admire those teachers with strengths where we have weaknesses.
In doing so, we overlook the probable fact that our strengths are often their weaknesses.
Take this test to evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses and see how that extends into your style of teaching.
Many of the questions refer to your responses to students in groups. It is merely a way of identifying your core strengths. Try not to answer the way you ‘wish’ you would respond but the way you have responded to situations in the past.
You might not like your answers because they aren’t what you admire. If you are honest, you might be surprised at the strengths revealed about your style of interaction with others. Remember: in this exercise you are not limited by money, or your immediate situation when choosing your answers.
1.- When you ask a three year old student the names of the notes and his response is Pete, Jacob and Fred, or ABCDEFGHIJKL… do you:
a. Give up on reading music for the time and assume the child is just too young.
b. Pull out one of the books you’ve collected (tried and true) and try it on her.
c. Grab a sheet of colored paper and draw a staff with a note and start over again?
d. Tell her that was adorable, and put it in your book of memoirs.
2.- If you have a teenage student in a group lesson who is taking charge of the group with his/her contagious and disruptive behavior do you:
a. Try to harness your impulse to put a zapper collar on him.
b. Create multiple small groups led by assistants, away from the ‘maddening crowd’.
c. Give them a pep talk about group lesson manners
d. Make them ‘leader of the day’.
3.-If a group lesson student raises her hand as you are about to play Lightly Row, and requests her favorite, Allegro, because she has to leave in two minutes do you:
a.- Kindly decline because you need to play Lightly Row and a few others before you get to Allegro – and, by the way, group goes from x:00 to x:00.
b.- Have her play it as a solo so everyone else isn’t thrown off track.
c.- Ask the mom if she can stay a little longer since time is a guideline and so what if she is a little late for the next thing on the agenda.
d.- Change gears and shout, “Allegro Everyone” and make it a real energy game.
4.- If a child plays a solo at group lessons, and the bowing is off, do you:
a. – After she/he is done, kindly explain that the piece is bowed thus and so and have them try again.
b.- Clap and cheer, playing it again with the whole group, subtly pointing out the unique bowings, not to single out the mistakes but to make it clear that it needs to be done correctly.
c.- Correct them with a little nudge to their arm to make it go in the right direction but when they are done, have all the students try the incorrect bowing and see which way is easiest.
d.- Clap your hands, cheer. Say, “Who is next?” and deal with the issues in the next private lesson, praising them for at least having the guts to play in front of others.
5.- If a student talks in a loud whisper or absentmindedly plucks the violin like a guitar while someone is asking a question, do you:
a.- Stop talking and explain to the student what is expected behavior in a group during ‘down times’.
b.- Have a teaching assistant distract the students when you are busy and at this point, teach the students how to correctly pluck.
c.- Ignore the plucking because, you aren’t a policeman, and, what damage does it really do anyway – at least it is relevant to music.
d.- Don’t answer the student’s question but make it a group effort to find the answer.
6.- What happens when a student shows up for a group lesson without their music or instrument? Do you:
a.- Give them a lecture about responsibility and make them sit out the group.
b.- Shift the lesson to games, working through the ideas behind what they are studying such as the life of the composer or the structure of the music.
c.- Share one of your violins or create a buddy system for another child to share when possible, or play, ‘Pass the violin’.
d.- Take some time to listen to why the student didn’t have the violin (left at school and school locked) and ask them what they would feel most comfortable doing.
7.- If a student’s string pops during a lesson, do you:
a.- Restring it immediately. Since your time is valuable and this will be considered part of their lesson time.
b.- Teach a lesson on strings, how and where they are made, what kinds there are and have the student restring the instrument.
c.- Teach them to play the pieces on the other strings. Have the return another time with a string or leave the instrument so you can string it later.
d.- Use one of yours, or borrow a string from an old violin sitting around.
When teaching a lesson, or researching in preparation for a lesson, would you be subconsciously saying to yourself:
a.- “Just the facts”
b.- “How did this method develop?”
c.- “What’s the point?”
d.- “How does this have any relevance to my reason for teaching?”
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