Sunday, January 29, 2012

performance teaching, or teaching teaching?

I have some friends who are not teachers, but are performers. This is great, I love's interesting to hear their perspective on music as all they (usually) need to think about it how to create the music to the best of their ability. Often, I am (sometimes unfortunately) too caught up in the 'how-do-I-teach-someone-else-to-create-this-music-to-the-best-of-their-ability' mode to focus on using my performance to the best of my ability. Now, many of them teach as well, but it truly is more of a side job for them, as they are trying to make performance the main deal in their lives. I say, more power to 'em, as long as their lives allow that.

Anyway, let's get to my point. Or story. or whatever this post is about. I somehow convinced one of my performer friends to take my spring musical music director job for this year, and I am thrilled because I know he has so much experience behind the stage and on the stage and will do a fabulous job and live up to my high standards I set for myself and my teaching abilities. We had an interesting conversation the other day:

me: so, how has it been working with the kids? We have some good singers from year to year...

he: yeah, it's fun. I haven't worked with high schoolers in a while, so it's been a bit of a learning curve. But I like it. It's been a bit hard just getting them to sing!

me: yeah, every year they do really well in auditions and then come in for rehearsals and I have to be so over the top to get them to make any noise of worthwhile value. And it's hard to figure out the belting...this year, pretty much every girl that "knew" how to sing was full out belting. Normally we have a few, but this year it was running rampant!

he: oh, I am fully encouraging them to belt. There is no possible way to do this show without it, so they have my complete blessing.

Well, the teacher is me was quite taken back. 'What?!' I thought. (thankfully, I didn't say it out loud) 'How can you be telling kids to sing the wroing way?!?'

Then, I realized that he is a performer that is teaching. His focus is to express what's on the page. As a performer teaching Broadway, he is focusing on Broadway sound, which, in this particular show, is a whole lot of belting.

As a teacher, I am concerned about making sure kids can learn to sing correctly so they will be able to sing well for decades to come. I realized I tend to sacrifice a bit of that powerhouse sound when I've done this job in the past because I am concerned about correct technique and teaching that well, as well as teaching the music.

I'm truly not meaning to offend or condemn, just putting thoughts to laptop. Any other thoughts out there?

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