Modes of Teaching and Learning

Which modes of teaching do you use? Which do you not? 

Here is a list of modes of teaching that is surely incomplete. What is missing? A friend just pointed out to me that there is no use of modern technology on this list. Omissions may indicate blind spots, modes we resist and perhaps need to reconsider! 

EAR

“Can you play the melody of Greensleeves by ear starting on A?”

ROTE-IMITATION

“I’m playing the opening of Greensleeves. Can you do what I do?”

EYE—FULL NOTATION

“Here’s the score to Greensleeves. Can you read this?”

EYE—LEAD SHEET

“Here’s the lead sheet to Greensleeves. Can you add chords and style them?”

MEMORY

“Can you play Greensleeves by memory?”

EXPLORING-CREATING-RESPONDING VIA DUET PLAYING

“Make sounds with me using white keys while I play this accompaniment.”

LISTENING TO PERFORMANCES

“Here’s my arrangement of Greensleeves. I’ll play it for you.”

TELLING

“You are in A minor. Start playing the melody with your thumb.”

EXPLAINING

“It’s A minor because A is now the center of gravity, not C.”

INQUIRY

“What key is Greensleeves in? What finger is best to start with?”

SELF-REFLECTING

“What did you hear? What did you like best? Where do you think you could improve? How would you go about doing that?”

INVITING OBSERVATION

“What am I doing now? Can you see it? Can you hear it?”

LETTING THE MUSIC TEACH

“Play with me, and follow my dynamic changes and tempo changes.”

STORYTELLING

“Let me tell you about the ‘duel’ between Mozart and Clementi!”

TALKING—CONNECTING

“Are you feeling better this week? Hey, I like your new haircut. How would you say this in your native language?”

SINGING

“Sing the melody with me.”

MOVING

“Let me show you how to dance a waltz. That is 3/4 time!”

All these modalities (and others that I have not mentioned) have their time and place. Some are overused and some are suffering from neglect. I think we enjoy teaching more and we are more effective when we shift between many modalities.

In my workshops for music educators, I emphasize the neglected modes of EXPLORING-CREATING, NON-VERBAL INSTRUCTION, and INQUIRY. I suggest these be substituted for much of the TELLING, EXPLAINING, and TALKING that goes on. This promotes self-guidance in the student and more creative engagement.