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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000300.txt from 2000/04

From: Matt Goff <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Student motivation (or lack thereof)/ Lame Excuses
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 22:51:25 -0400

Maybe I just take things less seriously than most people (or lack the
experience and/or frustrations of dealing with students and their
parents), but I do not see what the big deal is with practicing only 20-30
minutes a day (or less!) or missing the occasional lesson because of other
things. I do understand that there is a commitment to a teacher and the
teacher may be giving the lessons as a living. In this case, I agree that
it is not good to skip out and not pay.

It seems to me that one can enjoy music in general and the clarinet in
particular at many different levels. Each person will choose how serious
he or she wants to pursue the clarinet. Yet even for those who are not
all that serious about the clarinet, I think lessons can be a worthwhile
thing. I offer myself as an example.

Clarinet has never been my top priority, nor is it likely to ever be. I
do not imagine that I will ever be a great player. But I do know that
even at my less than fabulous skill level, I can bring enjoyent both to
myself and to others. I suspect that most people are not all that
critical of the music they hear, especially if it is someone they know who
is playing.

Until I got to college, I never had the opportunity for private lessons
with a clarinet teacher. When I got to college I took advantage of the
opportunity. As a graduate student in math, I spent a couple of years
playing very little and realized I missed it so I started taking lessons
again. There are many times when I am lucky to get 3 or 4 hours of
practice a week in outside of band. I try to practice the material I am
working on and make progress on it each week. On the weeks when I have
not practiced much, I try to have questions about aspects of clarinet
playing or music in general which I may not otherwise get to talk about.
For me, lessons are as much about deepening my appreciation of music as
they are about increasing my playing skills. I'm sure I do not improve my
skills as much as some of the other people who practice more, but that is
okay with me, I am still making progress.

I think that it is important for a teacher to understand what the student
is ultimately looking to gain out of lessons. Otherwise there will
probably be a great deal of frustration as the student and teacher work
towards different goals. I think that if I were teaching (especially
younger students) my first goal would be to find some music that the
student can get excited about. Maybe it's jazz or classical or klezmer or
something else, it does not really matter to me. What matters is that the
student find music thats makes him or her want to participate more
actively. That's when practicing starts to become less of a chore and
more of a joy (and even though it can be a chore at times, there is still
that underlying joy that helps one push through it). This is how it
worked for me and some other people I have talked to who ended up
sticking with music in the long run.

I enjoyed listening to music and saw something in it that drove me to
desire to participate in it. What finally brought me back to play after a
basically one and a half years away was going to a concert by Natalie
MacMaster (a fiddle player) and seeing how much fun she had while playing.
It made me remember how much fun it can be to participate more actively in
music. It took a while to get back up to speed, but I knew it was worth
pushing through to get back to playing.

Matt Goff

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