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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000677.txt from 2000/04

From: "Karl Krelove" <kkrelove@-----.com>
Subj: RE: [kl] re: Tone - the quick way
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 12:01:10 -0400

> -----Original Message-----
> From: webler1 [mailto:webler1@-----.com]
>
> Since I have started teaching full time, I have had the
> opportunity to take
> over about 11 students from other teachers. The teachers left the store
> that I was teaching at and I received their students. I have the
> statement
> made by Patty to be very true. In the end I will probably loose
> a quarter
> of them because they do not want to make the necessary
> adjustments in order
> to break some of the bad habits they have adopted. I've heard
> things like;
> why should my ligature be straight, I'm not going to breath the way your
> teaching me because that's not natural, I don't want to use the
> keys on the
> left side because its confusing, I don't want to practice the staccato
> exercise because it breaks my concentration, as she pulls out her band
> full of staccato notes, which she plays as legato.
>
> Yet, the students I have started have progressed very well. It
> has taught
> me a huge lesson about assuming the responsibility of another teachers
> students. I am developing a document which will be given to all the
> parents which goes over the qualities of a good Clarinetist. I tried to
> take the slow, get used to the new teacher approach, I'm not sure that I
> will use that approach any longer.
>
> Jay Webler
> Jay's Clarinet and Percussion
>
Jay, what they won't do today they will eventually do over months or maybe
years if it improves their playing. There will come a time for most of these
students when they will be more receptive. A new teacher's trying to make
many corrections immediately will predictably raise in some students a
defensive reaction that simply ends up in a power struggle between student
and teacher. Neither wins those struggles. The kid quits either in anger or
frustration and the teacher has no further influence on him/her. If and when
the teacher wins the student's trust, however, the defenses will drop and
more can be accomplished. The "slow, get used to the new teacher approach"
can take a long time. The student has come to you already knowing he doesn't
know everything that can be known about playing the clarinet. But she comes
also with a sense of having learned at least some of it already. When you
appear to attack that bedrock of what the child already "knows," some
children will interpret it as a personal attack and react as most of us
react in such situations.

By the way, this resistance to your instruction may not have originated at
their first lesson with you. Carelessness about things like ligature
placement and reed selection (mentioned in someone else's post) may well
have been frustrating the last teacher, too. As to the list of defiances you
mentioned in your post, here are some possible ways (certainly not the only
ones) of dealing with them that might avoid power-struggles or open warfare:

-Ligature placement - just quietly, maybe at first without even pointing it
out, straighten it when you have a pretext for taking the clarinet in your
hands. I often ask to see the student's instrument anyway to check that the
reed is straight and positioned well. I check the ligature at the same time.
Don't imply a criticism, just adjust it as something you would normally do
when you see something out of kilter. If it improves the response or sound,
the student will eventually notice the difference.

-Breathing - ask what the previous teacher taught. If the answer is
"nothing" then start simply by getting him/her to just breathe consciously.
Never mind for awhile the technique, just get a good, large-ish breath. You
can refine it later. If something _was_ taught previously, start there and
build on it. Even if it was, in your opinion or training, originally wrong,
find a way to _gradually_ move it over to the technique you want to teach.
Unless the previous teacher taught to produce a tone by inhaling and then
exhaling when the lungs got too full.

-Left hand keys - well, if you're really getting a defiant a reaction, you'd
get more accomplished in other areas if you just let it drop. There are key
systems in the world (true, they often have rollers to help) that don't have
the right-left redundancy of the Klose-Boehm system and people play quite
well on them. If the attitude is more genuine confusion than defiance, the
mechanism studies in the Rubank Advanced Clarinet Method Vol. 1 concentrate
very heavily on those keys. I always present them as "torture exercises"
with a few exaggerated leers and my students, who always say they hate them,
generally practice them anyway. I always agree with them about how hateful
the exercises are, and then listen as they gain familiarity with those keys
despite themselves. I don't know how young this student is, but I should say
that for some (developmentally) young ones, one key for one note is a better
approach, with alternates being taught (and "drilled") only when a passage
comes up in which they are needed.

- staccato exercises - most of these are crashing bores anyway. If she's got
a fistful of staccato passages in her band music, you might work with that.
The exercises can be used along with it for reference, and maybe she could
play a part of an exercise (if you want to make the point that there's more
in the world than the music in her band folder) and a section of the band
music, applying the skills in both places. Keep in mind though that clarinet
staccato is one of the hardest skills to learn for a number of reasons,
mostly having to do with the intrusion of the mouthpiece into the mouth.
Real progress on staccato for a student to whom it doesn't come naturally is
very long term.

There's more I could think of, but this is already far more than you asked
for (indeed you didn't really ask for any reaction or input), and I run the
risk of igniting the same reaction in you that I described in my first
paragraph (certainly not my intent). Teaching takes patience and a
long-range view of students' accomplishments. Good luck with these
pedagogical adoptees.

Karl Krelove

>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Patricia Smith [SMTP:pattiesmith@-----.net]
> Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 3:23 AM
> To: klarinet@-----.org
> Subject: Re: [kl] re: Tone - the quick way
>
> << File: ATT00000.txt; charset = Windows-1252 >> I find most keep up the
> corrections I make, but that the beginners I have
> started myself are more likely to do that than those students I
> have gotten
> who have played a few years and learned a lot of bad playing habits
> (usually
> playing in band!) that have to be unlearned.
>
> Patty Smith
>
>
>
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