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Hey everyone! Back with another video in my "How to NOT SUCK at Teaching Music" series. This one deals with LYING to students. I've talked to a lot of people about this and felt I had to say something on video about it. Take a look and let me know your thoughts on the matter!

 

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You are on the right track with your comments. In my work supervising teachers in all subject areas, I have advised being SPECIFIC with both praise and criticism. We walk a thin line between puffing people up with praise and destroying their enthusiasm. When we are specific with our praise, the student understands that we are describing his or her work, not his or her value as a human. ex. “This week you did a nice job shaping phrases in this etude. You followed the dynamic markings and gave the phrases direction. How do you think this will apply to the next etude? Check measure #23. Did you get all of the accidentals? I think I heard something there. What was it?” This provides a springboard for discussion and further growth.
 

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How come I don't see anything but a black rectangle where I usually see the first frame of the video and the "play" arrow?
 

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Good job !

...

Mmmmh... it doesn't feel right, indeed.

Being overly supportive or - on the opposite side - overly critical could be indeed considered as lying. Especially in the teaching context, even if I think it still applies for everyday life.

Just as someone else pointed out in his/her answer, it is better to praise or criticize using specifics. After all an important part of teaching is transmitting information, whether new or repeated (eventually following a different approach) for the student to understand and memorize. Saying 'good job' doesn't convey any information at all in the end, because it is too generic and too easy to say.

One thing I found very difficult with teaching (because it was mostly in front of a class and not one on one) is about 'how you make the student approach the new knowledge you want him/her to learn. Not only there may be multiple ways to approach or explain a concept, but the approach that will be most effective depends on how the student is thinking or living things. To give an example: some will prefer an experimental approach, practicing before intellectualizing/internalizing, while others will prefer to get the 'theoretical view' before applying it in different variants (if this is not completely clear, maybe because of a poor choice of words, consider that my experience comes from teaching mathematics, which I am trying to translate to the music teaching context). On one on one teaching, recognizing what would be the best approach for each student can be done quite well, with time... and trust. And since you never build trust with lies, the teacher has to have integrity to begin with, which is something to which the student will react too.
So, I agree with you Dave and for making these points clear: good job !

I am still not sure why you decided to make this video while driving something though (it doesn't seem to serve any purpose in relation to the points you make), but at least the moving environment was not distracting this time (as it was with some of your videos while driving a car).

One point of criticism I will add here is that you seem to make it quite black and white about what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' (around 5'40) about ways to do things. I am not sure it is always so cut and dry in every case, in real life of course but especially with music and even more so with wind instruments. I do believe that in this specific case, not lying would be 1) knowing all the ways to do thing X (or at least a reasonable sample of the ways to do it) and 2) presenting all of these to the student and see which one he/she grasps better, at least at first (e.g. the many ways to growl). Of course that point is a detail of all your presentation, but it made me react, so here it is: there, I do disagree with you in the way you presented your idea.

The weirdest of all is that even if I don't teach anymore I still know many teachers (of many different disciplines), and for all I know (from their personalities) I wouldn't say any of them would have that issue (while teaching). Could the importance of that issue be related to the topic : art, where recognition as a good performer is a very personal thing and represent sometimes half of the total retribution (ego is really a funny thing sometimes) ?
 

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Good job on that video, Dave! (Couldn't help myself. OK....I COULD help myself, but didn't.)

Being a good educator is not easy....I discovered this fact a couple decades ago when I became an adjunct at a local area college (a side hustle I've maintained in addition to my day job). I enjoy it, but had a number of things to learn. And I exclusively teach adults. You have had professional training as an educator (in addition to your music background?), your students are adolescents, and I would imagine the trick is finding the sweet spot of inspiration to step up and do better without discouraging them from working at it. You alluded to the fact that the student needs to be self-motivated to improve, and I would think that they are open to your help in areas where they are weak.

To the point of your title, my 2 boys could always tell if the teacher was giving them honest feedback or if they were just going through the motions. So I would support the statement that empty/false feedback takes away from teaching impact and outcomes. Especially to motivated/serious students- they need the honest feedback. I would think you can point to strengths and accomplishments while identifying the additional areas to improve; they can see how far they've come and where they need to go.
 

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Its like a dog, you reinforce good behavior/improvement and warn against bad habits. And students take lessons for different reasons. Some don't give a damn about time or intonation. So I teach it but realize that They may not want to work toward it. I agree its all about the student. If they want a college level teacher and are willing to work I can do that. If they are just having fun and dont' care if they ever play with anyone I do change my expectations because thats not what the student wants.

Do your next video on your thoughts as you sky dive?


But I'll agree in my experience . I had teachers with great standards and expectations and some who shined me on and took my money. i get it K
 

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Honesty in a teaching setting can come in different forms. Honesty that is cruel or mean spirited is one form that has no place in music education in my opinion. Factual statements tempered with kindness are more encouraging and productive than the opposite. Statements like "I don't feel that was your best effort" conveys both honesty and an affirmation that you have high expectations for that individual student.
 

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One thing to add might be "don't sexually harass your students"- might keep some people out of trouble who are otherwise oblivious. :)
 

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I have had some of the best teachers I could possibly imagine, just not for music, with the exception of my cello teacher. The paramount issue is to engage with the student and to encourage them to do better by giving them little challenges that are within their reach. That requires of course a somewhat good understanding of the capabilities and potential of the student and that is something I was missing from the video. Every student is different and a music lesson may use a substantial part of the time to talk banal things (except that there are no banal things in a student-teacher relation). If the student appreciates the teacher, he/she will strive to gain his or her respect by doing whatever needs to be done. There will be set backs, not just once or twice but over periods of time because sometimes music will have to take the back seat, just like any other subject depending on the circumstances and life's challenges. Don't think because you are a teacher, you are special. the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that is, the student and as a teacher you have to work for that, unless you just do it for the money. Yes, be honest, but don't tell them they suck, rather tell them that it hurts your feelings to see them fail and ask them what you are doing wrong that they don't get it. No student who sees that his/her lack of attention causes physical or emotional pain in the teacher will continue the same way. Either they are honest and tell you, sorry, I have to take this class but I have no interest but can we just play over that or they will strive to improve because now it is no longer them who just shrug it off when they don't fare well, they realize that it is a chain reaction and that is all you need to break through. I have used this many times and turned some of the most indifferent or even belligerent students into enthusiasts.
 

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One thing to add might be "don't sexually harass your students"- might keep some people out of trouble who are otherwise oblivious. :)
We always called that rule one in school, don't touch the kids. It's scary how many have struggled with that rule.
 

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This makes me think of watching Simon Cowell demonstrate the exact WRONG way to give feedback. He actually feels justified in pushing people to give up if he decides they don't have enough "talent." I realize he's projecting an image for show biz purposes, but it appears that it's rooted in his real way of doing things. Such statements as "that was bloody awful" serve no purpose other than to puff up the speaker. Even now, as judge on America's Got Talent, he'll actually stop the show to begin a "mini-clinic" with a singer. Stopping them in the middle of their piece, shaming them terribly on national TV, then "giving them another chance" by dictating a song choice to them, which is inevitably some pop garbage that happens to be charting at the moment. UGH!
 
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