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 Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: BandMom 
Date:   2006-01-07 17:19

My son's clarinet teacher had the tip of his rigth index finger severed and re-attached. We do not know what his prognosis will be, and at best, he cannot play for the next 6 to 8 weeks. My question to you is, have you ever taken lessons from someone who was unable to play their clarinet with you and if so, do you feel you were able to learn from them.

For those of you that teach, do you think you can teach without actually playing along with your students? I hate to think of having to find another teacher for my son because he was very comfortable with the one he has, but he is going to audition for All-State this year at NYSMA and I'm wondering if we should start looking for a new teacher. I'd appreciate your insights into this situation. Also, if you know of any great clarinet teachers on Long Island that would be willing to take on new students let me know, just in case we need to find a new teacher.

Thanks in advance for your advice.



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: jbutler 2017
Date:   2006-01-07 17:32

Yes, teachers LISTEN and analyze what needs to be corrected physically and musically. I very seldom "play along", but rather play short examples when necessary. Playing along only encourages playing by "rote" and "masks" what the student is playing.

My woodwinds professors in undergrad and grad school only played along during a lesson when playing duets.

jbutler

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-01-07 17:44

My best teacher (studied with her for about 11 years) rarely played with me during lessons.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: johng 2017
Date:   2006-01-07 18:26

Some of the better lessons I have taught have been when I never took the instrument from the case. Giving a student a reference for good sound and technique is important, but so much music can be taught with good descriptions and encouragement.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Anon 
Date:   2006-01-07 18:54

I often don't play along because I feel I can assess the entire situation better when I'm listening, observing, helping to count out loud, etc. With advanced high school students, I act more as a "coach" than anything else when they are working with me. Some of my best teachers never ever played in a lesson.

I wouldn't rush right out and change teachers if you've been happy with this person all along.

The teacher already had a traumatic enough situation - he doesn't need to feel like his students (or their parents) have lost confidence in his teaching ability simply because he's out of commission for a few weeks!

I assume you've been taking your son to hear the teacher perform, right? So he's heard him play before...

Just my two cents.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: hartt 
Date:   2006-01-07 19:06

Interesting 'concept' that you pose.

Leon Russianoff, one of the greatest teachers of all time and a teacher who 'produced' many, many symphony level calrinetists, rarely played during a lesson.
I would venture to say that perhaps numerous students could 'play' better than he BUT....they were able to because he was their teacher.
More often than not, he taught with fingering 'imaginary' notes in the air, 'tonguing' (dadadada) with no mouthpiece , marking music accordingly, etc etc.

He did not teach by rote......this is how it goes, played it and then saying now you play it like that.
His teaching method taught musicanship, technique (which has little to do with 'fast fingers') and so much more.

By like token, in my early years of 'learning', I had a teacher who was a phenomenal player: symphony, opera, recorded soundtracks, etc......yet, as a 'teacher' , I quickly learned in later retrospect, he was deplorable.

Personally, I'd like to read GBK's thoughts on this matter; he's a long time teacher, player, recording artist.

dennis

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: ron b 
Date:   2006-01-07 19:12

Dear BandMom:

I'm another one here who insists that students play and analyze their own playing. I never play along until the student has been playing at least six months and has established his/her own sound. Then, wean them as soon as possible.

My role is to help them evaluate, re-enforce (and/or change) what they're doing with the aim of playing well. In other words, give them the tools they'll need to carry on, on their own. They can listen to recordings and live performances for an overall concept of what a good, or not so good, sound is. They don't need me for that. Playing well independently, musically and technically, is our aim from the beginning and that's for the student to achieve, not the teacher  :)

Over many years passed, some of the best tips and examples I've gotton of playing musically has come from players of other instruments as well as vocalists and non-players.


- ron b -

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: BandMom 
Date:   2006-01-07 19:17

Thank you for your insights. I do not play an instrument myself so I was unsure what effect it would have if the teacher can't play. I am very pleased to hear of all the positive experiences you have had. As I said, I really did not want to find another teacher as we have been extremely happy with this teacher and most confident in his abilities. I was just wondering what impact, if any, having a teacher not play their instrument would have.

Thanks again.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2006-01-07 19:45

Not an issue whatsoever. It's the teachers that couldn't play in the first place that you have to avoid, not the injured ones.



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-01-07 19:52

I know a clarinet teacher that can't play the clarinet (or any other instrument for that matter) to save her life, and she's employed by the county!

The results speak for themselves.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: GBK 2017
Date:   2006-01-07 22:01

Beginning and intermediate students who have teachers that play along or demonstrate during lessons have a distinct advantage over those who do not.

In the early stages of clarinet playing where concepts of sound, expression and general musicality are being developed, an aural example or demonstration is worth much more than a verbal one. In the first few years of playing, one's sound is conceived and shaped by drawing on a recurring aural image - having that image available to hear, week after week is invaluable.

Also, for developing independant reading, sight reading skills and listening to others, duet playing is essential. Having a teacher to play with certainly helps these concepts grow more quickly.

As a student becomes an advanced player (college and beyond) a performing teacher is not as important. By this juncture, a good tone and respectable musicality has been formed and the teacher can now verbally guide the student through advanced clarinet concepts ...GBK



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Erdinet 
Date:   2006-01-07 22:47

I think GBK hit it right on the head. I know my early teachers played with me all the time, and I do the same with my beginning and intermediate students. I remember thinking that it was weird that my teachers would play less and less in my lessons as I got older, but got over that quickly.

As far as your teacher goes, if he still feels comfortable teaching, and your son is happy with him and getting what he needs out of the lessons, there would be no need to move on to a new teacher. NYSSMA solo evaluations are still a few months away, I would give it a few weeks and see what happens.

Adam

"There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over."
-Frank Zappa

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Ralph G 
Date:   2006-01-07 22:50

Was Marcellus able to play during the teaching phase of his career, or did his health problems prevent him from it altogether?

________________

Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.

- Pope John Paul II

Post Edited (2006-01-08 01:24)

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-01-07 23:54

6 to 8 weeks? I wouldn't say this were a problem.
My teacher lets me play 90% of the time, only sometimes he demonstrates on the clarinet, many times he just corrects me with a "that's ta!-ta!-ta!, staccato, not thaaa-thaaa-thaaa, see the dots?" or suggests things to work on harder etc.

More important are trust and confidence, and if the teacher is really worried about the students' progress he/she still might hire eg. an advanced student to help with teaching till the finger is healed.
Never change a winning team.

--
Ben

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: EEBaum 
Date:   2006-01-08 00:33

I don't know what one of my teachers sounded like, rarely heard two others, and the one I learned the most from was a saxophonist who only pulled his clarinet out once or twice to demonstrate finer concepts of airstream.

-Alex
www.mostlydifferent.com

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Morrigan 
Date:   2006-01-08 01:36

I've just finished my degree, and my teacher played in my lesson about twice in 6 six years to memory. I saw him perform twice and he picked up my clarinet about three times. Apart from that, we explored concepts together, talked about sound and rhythm and fingerings and composers and history and performance psych. I sound very different to him as do all his students. There are other students around my town that all sound the same as their teacher...

_______________________________________________
Clarinetist, Central Band of the Royal Air Force, London
Masters Student, Royal College of Music, London
https://soundcloud.com/tieraci
twitter.com/iRondo

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2006-01-08 02:18

Playing in a lesson is very important at any level including for the very advanced.

Her question was only for 6-8 weeks which is nothing at all.



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 02:27

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Playing in a lesson is very important at any level including
> for the very advanced.

That's a very interesting, dogmatic, and ultimately incorrect observation on the face ot it ...

As noted above, Leon Russianoff rarely played at all, yet left an indelible impression (to the good) with every student of his that I've met, and I've met many. Having the teacher playing in the lesson of advanced students doesn't seem to be all that important ... none of Leon's students seem to have suffered as the result of his lack of playing.

I personally know of contemporary teachers in conservatories around the US who seldom play during their lessons. If demonstration makes sense for a particular student they might, but for some students they never have to.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: GBK 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 03:06

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Playing in a lesson is very important at any level including
> for the very advanced.



I repeat (from my previous posting)

"...As a student becomes an advanced player (college and beyond) a performing teacher is not as important. By this juncture, a good tone and respectable musicality has been formed and the teacher can now verbally guide the student through advanced clarinet concepts..."

At that stage of playing, an aural example is not as important ...GBK

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: seafaris 
Date:   2006-01-08 04:50

I think your son will learn a lot more than just playing the clarinet over the next few months. He will see what one (his teacher) is willing to do to overcome a very serious accident for a musician. This is going to take a lot of work.

Jim

www.bajaseafaris.com

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: JessKateDD 
Date:   2006-01-08 07:31

What is important is the knowledge in the head, not the present skill of the player. Take a look at coaches in the athletic realm - many once played the sport but no longer can. Mickey's fighting days were long over when he took on Rocky.

One friend of mine, who plays trumpet, said the best lesson she ever had was with a tuba player - Arnold Jacobs. I bet there are even some clarinet players out there who took a lesson or two from him.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-01-08 07:53

Although I had an excellent clarinet teacher with an inspirational tone and technique as well as an unlimited source of knowledge on all matters to do with clarinet playing and repertoire, he is no longer in my area so I can't exactly go up to Birmingham Conservatoire every week for lessons.

Instead I do still have my oboe teacher who studied with Anthony Camden when she moved across the pond from Minnesota to the UK in the '70s (as she prefers the European and British style of playing to the American oboists), was a freelance player in London herself and is perhaps the most musical of all woodwind teachers in my area, plus the fact she's only 5 miles down the road.

So as well as oboe/cor lessons I take my clarinet along from time to time - pretty much to try out new and old pieces as well as to get pointers on phrasing and musicality, and she in turn also benefits as I can show her how to get around some of the tricky passages that her few clarinet pupils have with their pieces, as well as embouchure, reed and mouthpiece issues she wants to know. She sorts out my oboe/cor reeds (as she knows what she's doing) so I return the favour.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2006-01-08 12:42

Sometimes just words can't convey an idea nearly as well as demonstrating it can. For example Capriccio Espagnol.


"a picture is worth a thousand words"



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Pappy 
Date:   2006-01-08 13:12

My father studied with Stubbins at U of M for his MM and told me he doesn't even know if Stubbins owned a clarinet - never saw him go near one. :)



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 14:00

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Sometimes just words can't convey an idea nearly as well as
> demonstrating it can. For example Capriccio Espagnol.

If an advanced student can't already play Cappriccio Espagnol (at least technically play the right notes at the right volumes at the right speed) ... you don't have an advanced student.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2006-01-08 16:51

"at least technically play the right notes at the right volumes at the right speed"

------------------------------------------


Expression far transcends that.



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 17:09

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Expression far transcends that.

Duh. Perhaps you forgot what we're talking about here - whether or not an ADVANCED student needs a teacher to play at lessons. There have been enough counter-examples to throw out your axiom that it is REQUIRED for all advanced students (actually, only one counter-example is needed). In the case of many students working with some teachers, just words work perfectly fine. I'm not suggesting in any way, shape, or manner that demonstration isn't a valuable tool for either teacher or student; rather, that is is not an absolute requirement in many cases. Perhaps for your method of teaching or learning demonstration is a requirement - fine. But your methods of communication are not the only methods available.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2006-01-08 17:10

I guess the point here is very hard to debate. Would Leon R. have been a better teacher if he played more for his students? Would this improve the quality of any great teacher who didn't regularly play for their students. I tend to think there is an optimum amount for each situation. Obviously in the end the teacher can't play for the student . He has to do it herself.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 17:26

Arnoldstang wrote:

> I guess the point here is very hard to debate. Would Leon R.
> have been a better teacher if he played more for his students?

Both Russianoff & Stubbins have been considered two of the finest teachers of clarinet by many measures. My former teacher had both these men as his teachers and I recall he told me also that Stubbins didn't play at his lessons - but until a previous post I didn't know if it was an isolated occurance. It still might be.

However, that being said, it appears to me that neither Russianoff or Stubbins were dogmatic in their approach to the methods of teaching, or at least never appeared so to their students, because my teacher played occasionally to demonstrate some technique, even to his advanced students.

It could be that in the case of Russianoff & Stubbins that self-selection was in play - the students that wanted to study with them were of the type that didn't need demonstration to succeed; indeed, students and teachers at advanced levels tend to be drawn towards the ones most able to help each other.

Good teachers do what is necessary to help their students discover things about themselves.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 17:41

> Good teachers do what is necessary to help their students discover things
> about themselves.

Good teachers do what they deem necessary to ...

Some students may need more "hands-on" teaching while others prefer a more "coaching" approach. It all depends on how the "duet" teacher-student is playing along, what approach has been used in the past, which of the students' abilities needs most attention.

No need to make a religious affair out of this, IMHO.

--
Ben

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2006-01-08 17:45

My point was that there is no way of telling! I certainly am not criticizing Leon Russianoff but just pointing out the futility of debating what could have been. In any case, no one is pefect! Even Leon Russianoff could have been a better teacher. No offence....He just wasn't perfect.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-01-08 17:45

Jack Brymer seemed to be in no doubt of the importance of the student hearing the teacher play. He quotes the story of an oboe teacher whose fee for a lesson increased fivefold if the student wished him to play.

Having said that, I agree that it is of no consequence if the teacher cannot play for a few weeks.

-----------

If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.


 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-01-08 17:54

Arnoldstang wrote:

> My point was that there is no way of telling! I certainly am
> not criticizing Leon Russianoff but just pointing out the
> futility of debating what could have been. In any case, no one
> is pefect! Even Leon Russianoff could have been a better
> teacher. No offence....He just wasn't perfect.

No offense taken - I never knew him in any case. I was not debating what could have been, only pointing out what was.

I am reacting to dogma - "X must do Y" and/or "X mustn't do Z". The answer is not an unqualified "it depends - do X here, do Z there", either. We learn by failing just as much (if not more) than we do by succeeding, as long as we can reason why there's a failure.

There was a post recently about a teacher instructing a student to produce a squeak and learning how it was done. My teacher did the exact same thing. Paraphrasing now:
"Do you now realize how you produce that squeak? If you don't want to squeak, don't do that."

Do you notice something? He didn't tell me "don't do that", he said "if you don't want to squeak, don't do that." The implication is that there may be a time someday where I want to squeak, and I'll know exactly how to do it. That's something worth knowing.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2006-01-08 18:02

I would also add here that (not trying to get into semantics) there is a distinction between teacher and a coach. I would suggest that (perhaps) that should cover my backside, a teacher would demonstrate more than a coach would. Just as a football coach doesn't usually run down the field to demonstrate how it is done , a clarinet coach might not have to play for the student. Perhaps clarinet teaching is mostly done in the beginning and intermediate stages and clarinet coaching is a better term for advanced clarinet study. I'm not trying to contradict myself but that seems inevitable.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: clarinetmaniac101 
Date:   2006-01-08 21:46

My teacher played with me like the first 2 lessons just to get the feel of the material he gave me to study. He only plays with me if he has an expample to show me or if he wants me to change something in a piece I am playing or in scales, etude etc. That is the only time he will play with me.

Rashad
*clarinet

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Ed 
Date:   2006-01-09 01:37

Ralph asks:

"Was Marcellus able to play during the teaching phase of his career, or did his health problems prevent him from it altogether?"

I studied with Marcellus for a period during this time. He did play some in lessons. He had completely lost his sight by this time. It was amazing how well he could recall "in the third line of that etude" and then play the spot for you. He was a wonderful teacher and very inspiring whether he played or not.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2006-01-09 03:16

Indeed, Ed...Marcellus did occasionally demo stuff even in 90-91 when I had the opportunity to take a few lessons with him.

And as far as the teacher being unable to play for a while, that happened to me in my teaching studio. I was unable to play for 2 or 3 weeks after each of my cataract surgeries in 2004, and nothing bad happened, unless you consider my singing!

I tend not to play with a student unless it's a duet part. This was what (in my memory) all of my teachers did. If a student is having a significant problem picking up a rhythm or detail _and does not respond to verbal/kinesthetic/visual representations of it_ then and only then do I play in unison. Sometimes I'll play in a different octave so they can hear what they're doing vs what I'm doing...and sometimes I'll pick out a harmony line and create a duet...

Katrina

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2006-01-09 13:55

When I posted about a teacher playing in an advanced lesson, I was posting from personal experience from a lesson with Ricardo to myself. At a very advanced level, it can, and did make a difference.

Of course there are great teachers who can't play anymore for various health reasons, but when the teacher shows the student what can be done, it certainly can help.

A master teacher such as Abe Galper was or Marcellus, etc would still give an amazing lesson playing or not, but I would think that it would be enhanced if they could play when/if needed. It can also be very motivating too.

I don't think that Bob Spring would be teaching a student double tonguing without demonstrating it to them, nor Charlie Neidich either. If Charlie is teaching a new Masters or Doctoral Student his mouth formation (which is different from many!), he is going to demonstrate what he is doing as well as play it so that the student can hear what the sound to aim for is.

That doesn't mean that playing has to occur always, at every lesson, etc, but it can help from time to time to show what can be done

at any level.



 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: Lani 
Date:   2006-01-13 01:22

My clarinet teacher teaches from the piano.

I've never heard her play the clarinet but her instructions and thorough knowledge of the instrument are absolutely amazing and come from years of playing in an orchestra and from teaching clarinet! I benefit from much from her piano accompaniement, I can't imagine not having it, thought I am curious about how she sounds.

 
 Re: Clarinet teacher that can't play instrument
Author: crnichols 
Date:   2006-01-14 11:34

The finest instruction I ever received was from Steven Barta of the Baltimore Symphony while I was a graduate student at Catholic University of America. He played once in about 10 months of lessons, and it was only because we were working with the ReeDuAl, and he needed to see how the reed he had just produced played. All the other lessons were accomplished through singing and describing what he wanted to be better.
Christopher Nichols
1st Infantry Division Band

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