I have had the good fortune of traveling around the country being a clinician and presenting guitar workshops dealing with a myriad of topics ranging from playing Brazilian music and improvisation to developing curriculum for classroom guitar incorporating blended learning. My audiences have ranged from advanced players and experienced teachers to those who are just getting started with their playing and/or teaching. I have enjoyed all of these experiences and have always taken away something positive from each. Some of the most rewarding presentations have been those I have done for music educators. I’ve given some thought as to why this is and have come to several conclusions.
Educators are eager to learn something new and have a good time doing it. It seems to be in their DNA. I think they have the innate ability in their system to make the best of any situation. At some point, they have probably had to. It’s obvious they truly love what they do and (most of) their students. They certainly don’t do it for the money. I’ve also noticed that educators are teachable. They are open to suggestions and are willing to implement new concepts. This isn’t always true of some members of the non-educator audience who sometimes puts up a barrier between what they already know and new material. Some fall into the category of: “How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb? Five. One to change the bulb and four to watch and say, ‘I could do that’.” Educators devote a lot of time and energy to their occupation. I’m sure that parents would appreciate of teachers much more if they could spend a day in their shoes. Educators have an aura of excitement about them that is contagious. I can’t think of a time when a teacher in a workshop has seemed bored or disgusted to be there. On the contrary, they are bright eyed and up.
I’ve also noticed that educators are supportive of one another and willing to share their knowledge and experiences. I have seen many cases in a workshop where wonderful teaching materials and concepts have been shared by the participants. One of the most valuable items I can bring to a workshop is information shared with me from hundreds of teachers. Because I’ve had the opportunity to travel and present workshops throughout the country and abroad, I have been able to store all of the great suggestions that participants have contributed. Then, I am able to pass on that information to others. My “file” of pedagogical knowledge is continually growing thanks to wonderful guitar teachers.
I have appreciated the gratitude educators have shown. I’m always hearing from those who have participated in past workshops. Sometimes the positive feedback is instant, but often, I’ll hear later from a teacher who has had success in applying the information in his/her classroom from an earlier workshop. This always makes my day.
What a rewarding experience it is for me to be able to rub shoulders with educators. They have probably taught me as much or more than I have taught them. They bring truth to the statement, “Those who can, teach. Those who can’t teach, have to settle for something less.”