Bringing Hands Together (Shared vs. Private)
Erika W., Washington
When you have students unfold the patterns on their (printed) keyboards, do you also have them put both hands together first on their keyboard? I have tried this but found that I can’t watch them all and so don’t know if they are doing it right, and of course controlling the events is very important. I just wanted to see if you had any thoughts on this?
Samali D., Western Australia
Usually at the point at which I need students to put their hands together I ask them (plus parents) to come around the piano, and then I choose one of them (always a student and not a parent) to demonstrate while I bring their hands together and CTE. Then I will do the same for the remaining students as well. Those that have already had their turn either remain at the piano and watch the others or they return to the practice pads and continue (with their parents) to process hands together, without sound, and away from the piano.
Due to the fact that this is a shared lesson it means that I often get to CTE with all the students. Time almost always permits this. It is reassuring as a teacher to know that I have supported them all at this crucial stage in learning a piece, and given each of them the opportunity of the CTE experience. I feel that this is a unique and outstanding feature of the presentation of the Simply Music method.
Some students benefit greatly by observing others before their turn comes. I have one student in particular that asks to go last and observe all the others before his turn. He has learnt that his chance of success is greater after an observation experience. I carefully choose who I ask to play and in which order I ask them to play.
Often once they have been through one hand on the practice pad I might ask one of them to come up and play for us on the piano. The others often stay where they are and imagine they are playing as they finger out the pattern on the Practice Pad. This ‘imagined’ experience is very valuable, and the learning that occurs is evidently deep.
In accompaniments I unfold all the elements away from the keyboard. When I bring the hands together I ask them all to come up to the piano and I might ask one child to play the first line, and then ask the other child to do the next line, and then a parent to do the next………. There are a myriad number of ways in which to present this really.
What I love about presenting shared lessons in this way is that it is so inclusive of whoever is present in the room. Last week I had a granny come with her grandson to his weekly shared lesson. Even though she has not ever seen an SM pattern in her life, and music lessons are totally alien to her, she was able to join in. All of us are so accustomed to patterns in various arenas of life and learning. She just became part of it all. It was wonderful to be able to include her in such a direct and immediate way.
I am consciously avoiding enrolling on-going Private Lessons now. 80% of my lessons currently are in a shared environment and I will look to increase that number where I can. My perception of the role of the Private Lesson is changing. I see the Private Lesson as a useful tool to be used to support a teacher to make shared/group lessons effective. Private Lessons are also essential for those in special circumstances that simply can’t fit in to a group for whatever reason.
Time is of the essence, more and more people want access to the method and to be honest, from my limited personal experience I have found Shared Lessons to be a time efficient, cost effective solution for the delivery of this program where I can still offer a sense of intimacy and attention to students, and reach more people than I could if I was only teaching Private Lessons.
Energetically, Shared Lessons feel different to Private Lessons. They are still cozy and intimate, but less intense. I am able to work the same number of hours in Shared Lessons as I would with Private Lessons, and I do not feel tired or drained. I have found Shared Lessons to be energizing, personal and intimate for all concerned. I love the interaction Shared Lessons allows me to have with parents and visiting guests.
P.S. A few of you asked if I have tried this presentation with Private Lessons. My experience is limited with Private Lessons in this regard. The problem seems to be the lack of bodies in the room! There is something powerful about the energy that can be created with a number of people in the room.