Unnecessary Teachers

As teachers, we want our students eventually to work on their own—learning repertoire, acquiring technique, forming interpretations, giving performances, deciding what to do next—and teaching their own students. Our job is thus to make ourselves unnecessary; and toward this end, “to create situations in which learning may occur.”

One situation in which a lot of learning will occur is when the student prepares a piece independently, consulting with us only on specifics—problematic passages and interpretive issues; presenting us in lessons with only the bare minimum of the piece necessary for consultation; never the whole piece until it’s all ready.

The first student with whom I took this approach was perfect for the purpose: highly gifted, intelligent and independent-minded. What a pleasure it was for me to hear his Chopin C-minor Nocturne at his recital! And how great was his pride in it!

After all, having learned a few pieces with our guidance, why shouldn’t the student be able to learn without us? Why shouldn’t that be a goal for us?

The Curmudgeon says some teachers are unnecessary from Day One, but he’s in a cynical mood.

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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