Monday, October 11, 2010

Same old, same old

Merriweather played beautifully at her first adjudicated master class. I should know - I'm her teacher and one of the two judges. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, and of what I would like to hear change, but I was pleased with her performance. I jotted down the good points and the suggestions, as did my co-judge, and we handed them to Merriweather.

Dr. Great-with-Kids gave her a thumbs-up as well, pleasing Merriweather and her mom.
Merriweather's mom said, "What did Mrs. Hooper say?" Merriweather rolled her eleven-year-old eyes and said, "Same old, same old."

I had to laugh, my other choice being a good sulk in the corner for being such a boring teacher. Then I looked at the comments from Dr. Great-with-Kids. Slightly different words, but the same suggestions I made! Why was her opinion so well-received and mine so quickly dismissed?

A mental har-rumph was in order.

After a few days of har-rumphing, I was ready to challenge myself. There is no denying what one friend calls the "guest conductor syndrome" - same information, different delivery style. A change of environment alone is stimulating to the brain, as is the sound of an unfamiliar voice with its unique rhythms and cadences. Nonetheless, I still felt the need to rethink my delivery style.

Even though Merriweather has been in my studio for years, and I hope will be for more years to come, I may need to take on the "guest conductor" persona from time to time. I could listen to the sound of my voice for pitch, rhythm, speed and inflection. I could change some of my time-honored phrases for the "same old, same old" challenges. I could change up the order of lesson materials covered. I could bring out different learning aids from time to time. Every now and then I could surprise the student by doing something completely different, whatever that something is.

I have never thought of myself as a boring teacher, that is for sure. But I am re-evaluating the difference between "tried and true" and "same old, same old."

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