• On a Lighter Note... 2.

    From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Richard Webb on Sun Feb 6 22:26:48 2011
    Hi again, Richard! This is a continuation of my previous message to you:

    [...] this guy was a bit too intense for most junior
    high situations.

    Sounds familiar. I taught theory & expected my students to work with
    me to produce the best sound we could achieve together even though my principal
    said "Just keep 'em playing... that's what they want at this age!" I was never
    as popular as the band teacher at his former school. But a few years later one
    of my ex-students told me, with some amazement, that the kids in his band class
    at senior high who hadn't been in my class had no experience with 5/4. Another
    followed in my footsteps & eventually became a band teacher himself. AFAIC one
    can't be sure who will become a professional musician or a teacher or a staunch
    supporter of the arts later on & I owe it to my students to do my best.... :-)

    HE was truly one of those musician's musician types,

    Some folks end up as teachers only after they realize they can't make
    a living as professional musicians...

    played half a dozen different instruments, and all of
    them very well, etc.

    ... OTOH, unlike many of my classmates who were enrolled in the music
    department rather than the education department, he seems to have taken courses
    of this nature seriously! I can play half a dozen instruments too, but I don't
    necessarily play all of them well or have the nerve to do it in public.... ;-)

    A great lesson for all concerned. :-))

    YEp, and part of that was his admission that he should
    have expected that I'd work out an alternative signaling
    arrangement with my neighbors and been able to put two and
    two together. I think he was a bit disappointed that his
    wife didn't correlate one action with another.

    Perhaps he accepted her interpretation without question... regardless
    of how well she knew each individual student and/or how much she knew about the
    technical aspects of conducting... because she was his wife. Dallas & I have a
    friend in his eighties who, while he himself has remained single, repeats a lot
    of the grumbling he hears from another person about wife #2 with no distinction
    between fact & opinion. Although we haven't met wife #2 we have known this man
    since he was married to wife #1. We can both see why he'd be difficult to live
    with. Our friend once said as much but clearly idolized wife #1... [wry grin].

    I believe a lot of otherwise intelligent adults who are old enough to
    have fully developed prefrontal lobes (or whatever) tend to make errors of this
    nature fairly often when their nearest & dearest are involved. As a teacher, I
    know I must be objective in my evaluation... and I know I must provide adequate
    data to support whatever conclusion(s) I arrive at. Your teacher probably knew
    that too. As a wife & mother, however, I often find myself expected in various
    social situations to keep other women occupied so their menfolk can talk freely
    about the common interests which brought them together with Dallas & me. While
    I don't know the woman you've alluded to it wouldn't surprise me if her husband
    chose her at least in part because she was operating on a different level, then
    overestimated her ability to understand his concerns sometimes. But I think it
    is to his credit that he was educable. I'm also taking into account when these
    events probably occurred. Years ago, the average schoolteacher had no training
    or experience WRT special needs. Your teacher may have been a pioneer, just as
    Dallas & I were, with very few positive role models & with very little support.

    Reading between the lines... I gather you & I are about the same age.
    As it happens, our own daughter attended the elementary school a girl I babysat
    during my late teens wasn't allowed to attend because she was legally blind. A
    lot has changed since then. I reckon you encountered some of the same problems
    we've encountered, however. The idea that folks who are "different" want to do
    what they're doing is still new & unfamiliar to many other folks. And we often
    find ourselves battling misconceptions such as the idea that everybody who uses
    a wheelchair is exactly like whoever else gets most of the publicity... (sigh).

    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)
  • From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Richard Webb on Thu Feb 24 23:52:28 2011
    Hi, Richard! Recently you wrote in a message to Ardith Hinton:

    AFAIC one can't be sure who will become a professional
    musician or a teacher or a staunch supporter of the arts
    later on & I owe it to my students to do my best.... :-)

    INdeed, and a friend of mine went in with much the same
    approach, he was a music major instead of pedagogy, but
    fell into teaching.


    This lady's daughter was one of his pupils and sang his
    praises for getting the kids actually interested in
    learning about music.

    I know many others who "fell into" teaching, as your friend did, and turned out to be very good at it. If he really enjoyed learning about music & working with kids, his enthusiasm was probably contagious.... :-)

    I play three or four instruments well enough, but I'm
    not suited to teaching well. I don't have the patience
    for it, and part of that patience is an impatience with
    myself if I"M not getting an important concept through
    to a pupil. That impatience with myself for not being
    able to put it across manifests itself in the pupil
    perceiving I'm frustrated with him/her.

    IMHO you have the right instincts! Years ago I remarked to a friend that I couldn't always be sure whether a particular feeling originated from me or the person(s) I was with. She doubted my sanity. But shortly thereafter I found a book written for teachers which said basically what you've said. If a student appears to be discouraged, bored, impatient etc. they may be mirroring what they believe they're seeing in *us*... and vice versa. The onus on us as teachers is to recognize what's happening & make appropriate adjustments.

    Abstract ideas are especially difficult to put into words sometimes. I'm reminded of an incident which occurred when my grade 9/10 band was playing a tango. I wanted it to sound sensuous, but not being quite as wordly-wise as they thought they were they couldn't understand what I meant... and the more I tried to explain the more frustrated all of us felt. So I said "Okay, pretend I'm wearing a slinky black dress." Then, in my sensible tweed suit & sensible shoes, I paraded in front of the class with an exaggerated wiggle of the hips. One of these kids later became a personal friend. According to his version of the story, the guy next to him exclaimed "Did you see that?? She looks like a streetwalker!" We agreed that the guy next to him was a space cadet. Even he seemed to get the message, however, when I acted it out... [chuckle].

    A friend of mine however says I'm a very thorough and
    patient teacher, but that was in another subject, not the
    music. I"ve come to the conclusion that maybe I can teach
    radio theory, or radio operating techniques, etc. but just
    am not temperamentally suited to teaching music. THat fits
    too, as I'm the guy who will walk out on a bad performance,
    or a musician failing to tune his instrument properly.

    When we were younger, Dallas & I often heard somebody's fridge or TV whistling at a very high frequency and level of dissonance. We'd ask "How can you stand that whistle?"... to which the reply was invariably "What whistle??" People who live and/or work in a noisy environment... including music teachers ... tend to become hard of hearing in later years. Because you have little or no useful vision I imagine you depend a great deal on hearing to find your way around in strange places & cross roads safely as well as to earn a living. If you get positive feedback with regard to another subject area, what I see is a thorough & patient teacher with a healthy sense of self-preservation.... :-))

    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)