Adjusting Playing—Group Dynamics
From time to time I’ll run across a student who is just plunking out notes on the piano without a care to the ear. At that point, I’ll take out my audio recorder and say “Now, let’s listen to what you just played.” Very often, they have no idea that there is, for instance, a huge pause or that they are playing Fur Elise with a complete lack of musical sensitivity. I can lecture, and demonstrate and discuss and as questions or whatever, but once they hear themselves doing it…boy they make a smile and say, “Was I really doing that?”
I don’t do this with everyone, mind you, but from time to time and only when everything else I’ve tried just isn’t working. Also, I would never do this with a song we had just learned the previous week – only with those songs on the playlist which have reached a level of “staleness”?
What Carrie is suggesting is reminiscent of one of the additional benefits of learning in a Shared Lesson environment. In a Private Lesson, it is the teacher who is responsible for pointing out and correcting mistakes. I describe this as Receptive Correction. In a Shared Lesson (and to a similar but lesser degree, when a student hears a recording of themselves) they have the opportunity to aurally identify for themselves the errors in their playing or their lack of musicianship etc. They subsequently adjust their own playing as a result. I call this Generative Correction. Generative Correction is the basis of how infants learn self-adjustment with regard to speaking correctly. It is also how students should discover technique and musicianship. The difference between Receptive vs. Generative Correction is significant, more deeply assimilated and an approach that allows for students assuming a higher level of self-responsibility.
Sheri R., California
A simple question: Based on students discovering technique through Generative Correction as Neil outlines, do teachers of Shared Lessons always have students standing and watching (not only listening) when another student is playing? I encourage and suggest students stand and watch at beginning of lesson when we are reviewing playlist, but I’m thinking now it should just be part of a shared lesson that everyone is always watching everyone else play during this review portion of the lesson. (I always have people watch during round robins and during a student controlling the events for the first time, as well as watching each other while learning songs on the keypad.)
Maybe it’s better not to give a choice to stay seated during Playlist times as well?
I recommend that students be around the piano whenever others (or you) are playing. Obviously this can mean that a major chunk (perhaps even most) of the lesson is spent with all the students being around the instrument, and everybody swapping places and having to move to accommodate everybody else etc., and that’s exactly how it should look. It’s this type of physical interaction and displacement, that not only allows the students to both hear and see what is going on at the keyboard, but also create the synergy and energy that stimulates Q&A’s that are more multi-responsive and varied in perspective.