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PAINFUL PEDAGOGY – Part 1

Submitted by Mary Tickner

This summer, knowing that I would be responsible for our first meeting in September which would be concerned with problems in teaching that have been submitted by teachers, I decided to do some research.  Initially this consisted of going through countless back copies of The American Music Teacher (MTNA) and throwing countless ones away.  Suddenly help was at hand!  I got questions and also suggestions for future meetings.  Among the debris of my library, I ran across a newspaper clipping from the Vancouver Sun, dated 2009 with the headline "Brain Science makes Psychology go Pop" by Randy Shore. I obviously have a short motivational span because I became totally immersed in what was going on in the field of Neuroscience and Music.  In the article, McGill University cognitive neuroscientist, Dan Levitin, persuaded Sting to have an MRI done on his brain while performing a variety of musical feats.  His brain lit up like a Christmas tree.  There is no longer any privacy in our brain, thanks to the advancement of technology and this has important implications for those of us who teach.

 

At the same time, I was given a wonderful book called "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle with a sub-title "Greatness isn't born. It's grown.  Here's how".  The book has researched and explained how to develop your gifts in any area but placed great emphasis on sports and medicine because those two areas combine the same sensory elements necessary for success.  I am not one to be a strong believer in coincidences, but shortly after this, I acquired the 4th edition of the pedagogy textbook "Creative Piano Teaching" published by Stipes in which there is a great article on brain research and its relevance to teaching. While I had some elementary knowledge of the brain, I never really understood how all this "stuff" managed to navigate to get us to our goals.  Terminology such as neurons and cerebellum were not unfamiliar but "myelin " was from another world ...and yet, this is a major player in developing talent, plus other things such as "intensity", "deep" or "deliberate' practicing  or....SLEEP!

 

Back to September: I will discuss this briefly in our meeting but thanks to those of you who have sent in questions about slow learners, theory in lessons, sight-reading, late payments, and practicing, etc… .  I am assuming that the collective brain power of all of you attending the meeting will do your part in helping solve problems.  You will have a very interesting list to consider.  Feel free to add to it.