Teaching by Travel Brochure
(14 Oct 02)
The Talented Teacher
There is a certain situation that guitar students can easily find themselves in, or, put more correctly, there is a certain situation that a student may actually BE in, and not know it. In fact, it would be good if they did find themselves in it, instead of just being in it without knowing it! It is the situation of being, what I call, "taught by travel brochure".
And what could I possibly mean by that? Well, I don't mean being taught long distance, or taking some kind of correspondence course. I mean something a bit more subtle, which I will lay out for you.
Many guitar players, along the course of their lives, become guitar teachers. They are often people who have a good amount of what is called "natural talent", which simply means the tendency to do the "right" thing when it comes to performing a set of skills. It's like there is some innate sense of how to go about something. It can even be something the BODY knows, but the mind doesn't quite know consciously what is being done.
For instance, I have a sister who has always been a great singer. She just popped out of the box that way! Even when she was in the first grade, it was evident that she was a great singer. She obviously had the ability to just hear good singers, and then her MIND and her BODY were able to put it together to produce the same results she heard other people get.
But even though I say it was her mind as well as her body, it doesn't mean it was her conscious mind. I doubt very much she could have described to others what she was doing, or have been able to bring someone without that talent closer to the state she was in, of being able to sing so well. In other words, at the subconscious level, her mind could direct her body to sing, and do things like using her vocal mechanism, support, etc., correctly; but at the conscious, verbal, analytical level, she did not know what she was doing.
This is the way it is for many guitarists who are considered good guitarists. They just pick it up and BINGO! Beautiful music happens, or at least, music! The problem comes when these people start to "guide" others to do the same thing...........................
When I discovered classical guitar, I had enough natural talent to teach myself to be able to "play the notes". I was able to learn pieces and play them fairly well, in tempo, and make them sound like music. I was able to get further on my own than, as I found out later, many people are able to take it even with a teacher. (The fact is though, I was also doing many things ass-backwards, and guaranteeing many playing problems I would have at more advanced levels, and have to undo later, but that is another subject).
The point is, I was able to get relatively further than the average person, and didn't run into the same types of "beginner" problems that others had (I ran into more "advanced" problems).
Because of the fact that I never had to deal with "beginner" problems, when I began to teach I HAD NO WAY OF RELATING TO THE BEGINNER PROBLEMS THAT I WAS ENCOUNTERING IN MY STUDENTS!