A few nights ago I was conversing with another loop artist a half a world away and we were talking about my workshop that I offer to schools, universities and professional groups. We talked at length about what makes a good workshop and how to do you make something as complex as looping and digital effects, relevant and easy to grasp for a room full of young musicians. I told my six-time-zones-away friend that in the end….it isn’t about how much *you* know….it is how much *they*will walk away with.
In college I endured classes that taught you “how to teach.” The irony was that they were taught by professors that hadn’t been in a public school setting for over ten, sometimes twenty years. Even as a malleable 20 year old, I knew what they offered was outdated and out of touch with today’s classroom. A few short years later, diploma in hand, I entered the teaching profession full time….and only four years ago I started getting calls to teach looping from elementary students to seasoned professionals.
Fast forward to a few nights ago, the task of giving lightning in a bottle to another artist who wants to teach others presented itself to me. My messenger window chimed a new message:
“Do you have students come up and get on your gear?”
“Yes, of course. It is one of my favorite parts.” I reply.
“I would be afraid of my gear getting damaged.”
Ahhh yes. The faceless enemy that moves without a sound and strikes from the crawlspaces of our ego and id. Fear. Calling up volunteers or even setting it up so a teacher will join you onstage is a great way to get the students on your side. In legal terms, it’s called “leading the witness.” “Hey, who wants to come up and sing a few notes, or make a drum beat.” Now you’ve asked for volunteers and taken away the guesswork of what they need to do. Sing a few notes….make a drum beat. Got it. I’ve taught thousands of students over the years…and still….my gear has yet to erupt in fire and brimstone because a 15 year old girl came up and sang a major triad.
In the days of Vines, Instagram, Snap Chat and more …the human attention span is being vied for at a quicker rate than probably ever. Keep your workshop moving. Talk about a topic, show in context…and keep moving. The workshop in many cases serves as an overview of whatever you’re talking about. A few years ago, I was at a Paul Gilbert workshop. Paul was a very engaging educator. He would explain a certain effect, technique, style , etc and then show it in a performance setting, or drop it into different contexts. Show it, do it, keep moving.
The power of yes is often celebrated. Few celebrate the power of “no.” Even few will acknowledge the power of “I don’t know.” There are leading figures in music, business, sports and more that I’ve see at a loss for an answer. That’s ok. If you don’t know, acknowledge it. Seldom will an audience lose respect for you. If you make something up….or blur the line between truth and fiction though….you’re on your own!
The pictures I posted on today’s blog feature a number of the young musicians I worked with in recent workshops. Boys and girls ranging from middle school 12/13 to high school 17/18. Although the way I go about teaching may change…they why I go about does not. To let students know they have their own greatness to achieve. No Tony Robins buzzwords, no airplane bestseller key points….just music by unconventional means that allows a young student to achieve something bigger than themselves. All of that, tucked into a few pedalboards, forty feet of cable….and a microphone.
Everyone has their own skill set they can pass onto others. The “others” are out there. Find them….share with them….and see if you don’t make something positive….something lasting……something bigger than yourself.
June 13, 2015
Just Alliance's Blog
Thoughts, ideas and musical musings from this Silver State Loop Artist.