Do We Talk Too Much When We Teach?
From the 1-Minute Pedagogy Series
1 - Minute Pedagogy is a series of 6 short videos that share my favorite "pearls of wisdom" that I have received for violin teaching from colleagues and teacher trainers over the past 2 decades. Think of these little videos as us having a cup of coffee together and sharing advice and perspectives to support the work we do as teachers.
Please feel invited to continue the dialogue with your own ideas in the comments on the blog or youtube channel below. I apologize for the silly grin in some of these videos. I could not help but have a gigantic smile on my face when I filmed these because I was remembering so many special people that deeply you touched my life.
To view all 6 videos in this series click HERE.
Do we talk too much when we teach?
I once had a colleague tell me that teachers here in America tend to talk too much when we teach and for the most part, I agree. Words are not our first language and the unique nature of our work as violin teachers invites us to integrate physical sequences with cognitive patterns. We then wrap this all up in the magical expression that is music itself. Such a unique combination is difficult to contain in verbal instructions which is why I suggest we do an inventory of how much talking we do when we teach and assess if this amount of language is as necessary as we may be in the habit of doing and also consider what options we have instead of words to communicate our teaching point.
Words go through our ears and into our brain where they can be interpreted in a multitude of ways which may not even match the intent of the instructor. Touching a body part relevant to the technique being studied, modeling with our own playing and reserving enough space in the lesson time to accomplish enough repetitions so the student can synthesize the information and correctly repeat in their home practice are integral to a successful learning experience. Certainly language is helpful in the process but if we talk too much we are not as effective as if we balance our teaching with training the muscle memory and inflecting meaning into the music. Additionally, we can use the tone of our voice, the spacing between words and facial gestures to communicate a sense of awe and wonder for this incredible process of learning music and stress the priorities of our teaching points.
SILENT TEACHING CHALLENGE: If you really want to have some fun with this, take out a timer and have a playful challenge with your student or class to see how long you can go without speaking. You will be amazed at how this captivates your students while preserving your energy and best of all this is very effective for getting focused work accomplished.
How do you communicate with your students in your teaching? What are some ideas you have for non-verbal teaching techniques? Please share in the comments below.
3/28/2016 01:17:54 am
I waggle my left thumb for 'lighthouse' and the right one, bending it as a reminder for no tight grip on bow. A quick look up with no comment required is usually enough to indicate intonation correction required.A nod of pleasure, also without speech is acknowledgment of a tricky bet performed well.
3/28/2016 06:44:35 am
Fantastic ideas! I am so grateful you shared these with us, thank you Margaret.
I have 4-5 index cards each with one word, e.g. Thumb, Elbow, Pinky, etc that I use with students who I do not want to interrupt. We discuss what they are to focus on and I show them the card. I tell the student that I will hold up the card if I see that they are starting to forget. I find that students are very motivated to NOT LET ME HOLD UP THE CARD! I act a bit dramatic and disappointed that I did not get to hold it up even once. It is a great way to NOT SPEAK and NOT INTERRUPT.
3/29/2016 06:35:52 am
3/29/2016 08:52:26 am
Thank you so much for sharing this Heather!
4/1/2016 06:22:34 am
Thank you Rebekah for the comment and I love that you mention "we got in a rhythm". I think one of the neatest things is finding structure for the success of the learning material and it sounds like you did a fantastic job with this. Best wishes H
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Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!