Evaluating Yourself as a Teacher
Last month I wrote about how I use my completely non-professional equipment (as in iPhone) to record my students playing and allow them to hear mistakes, or record myself playing a passage they struggle with so they have a sample for home practice. I recently decided to use recording technology to record a few lessons and evaluate my teaching abilities.
I recorded myself teaching when I was introducing a new piece to a student, and then recorded the middle stage of the piece, where it was coming along nicely but we were working out a lot of rhythm kinks and adding layers and such. Besides being an awkward viewing experience (does anyone really enjoy seeing themselves on camera?), it was actually beneficial. I was able to pick up on little things I did well in the lesson and watch how it “clicked” with the student, and I was able to see the moments where I was losing the student’s interest. I learned from watching myself during the first recording that I have a tendency to talk and explain how I want something to sound. Certainly explaining and talking is a part of lessons, but seeing myself in action caused me to realize that I need to keep the student playing or listening to keep him engaged. I now have added awareness of this tendency and work hard to let the majority of lessons be about the student’s playing and putting into action the things we talk about.
I also was able to see some teaching techniques that really worked. Having me play a passage alongside the student was helpful to the student when cleaning up rhythm errors and difficult fingering. Letting the student place his hand on top of mind to feel the motion in my hand, arms and wrist to add expression was also effective. Watching the video and being able to hear and see the difference in the student after implementing these teaching ideas helped me realize what is working, and to utilize these tools more in lessons.
Have you ever recorded yourself at work in your studio? What did you learn from it?