Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pedagogy from the podium

This weekend, I have been conducting an Honors String Orchestra Festival at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. My thanks to Emily Crane and all at Austin Peay for inviting me.  It's been a wonderful event and, as a result of my rehearsals here, throughout the weekend I have been giving a great deal of thought to my upcoming educational sessions at a couple of different conferences. A session that all be presenting in coming months, including at the National ASTA Conference in Tampa, is "Pedagogy From the Podium." This is a session that I began giving many years ago while I was still teaching in Palmyra, PA, based on some of the "best" practices that I had discovered in my daily teaching life. But, as you can imagine, over the years the content and the approach have changed a great deal. 

 Those of you that pay attention to this blog know that last year I was strongly considering the anatomy of any strong pedagogy. I presented a model where there were four components of any pedagogical concept that needed to be addressed. Those components are as follows: 

1. A SYSTEM is developed 
2. The system is SEQUENTIAL
3. There must be strong NOMENCLATURE introduced to clarify the system
4. The instructor provides a HARMONIC UNDERPINNING to any skill that is introduced modified . 
So, my task over the last several months has been to consider the systems that I have developed over the past several years. As this has been in the front of my mind, I've become more and more aware of the myriad of systems that I've developed or utilized over the years. Last year, I spent a good deal of time discussing, creating resources for, and teaching about the system of Finger Patterns that I had acquired from other great pedagogues and modified to suit my particular needs. Continuing on that theme, I have become more and more aware of other systems that have become an integral part of my teaching over the years.  Some of these were developed by others, some I have modified, and others I have developed.

Those of you that attend Pedagogy From the Podium, will get a strong dose of my belief in the model for these systems, and a number of specific systems that you can use in your classroom which utilize the model. I am still weeding out the final content of these sessions, but right now these are the areas that I will potentially be addressing. 
  • Ensemble Tuning
  • Ensemble Playing Position
  • Finger patterns as a vehicle to ensemble intonation
  • Rhythmic stability and Inner Rhythm
  • Watching the conductor and general ensemble awareness
  • Movement and breathing into phrase
  • Dynamics and the dynamic nature of ensemble playing
  • Spiccato and other intermediate to advanced bow techniques
  • Bow speed/placement
  • Pizzicato accuracy and technique
  • Musical "essence" and the art of self editing difficult passages
  • Precepts of bow direction
  • Bow weight as it relates to bow placement
  • Bow style as it relates to historic era of composition

Obviously, this won't all be addressed in a one-hour session. So, as you can see, some of this will be "weeded out" in coming weeks and months. I hope that you find some of these topics interesting and truly hope to see you at one of the sessions. Please let me know if any of these areas particularly resonate with you, or if there is something missing here that you would like to see.  Here's what I can promise: I will certainly be thinking about these systems and my approach to the ensemble development in the coming weeks and months. I will do my best to offer specific and pertinent content for everybody who attends.

For those of you on the East Coast: stay dry and safe this weekend. To those of you here in Clarksville TN, thanks for an awesome weekend of music making, sharing, and collaborating. You all have been wonderful to work with and I know our concert today is going to be magnificent!



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