Weekly Teaching Tip – Sep. 22, 2014
by Teri Stock
Some of us might remember a movie that came out in the 1980’s called “The Karate Kid”. In it, Daniel, new to the neighborhood, is being picked on at school. He wants to learn karate to protect himself. He finds an instructor in Mr. Miyagi who was supposed to be a one-time champion of karate. The first lesson lasts weeks and is simply a “wax on, wax off” movement. He is instructed to practice it by polishing cars. If the movement or the result is not perfect, Daniel is instructed to repeat it. Over the weeks, Daniel’s patience wears thin. He is being beat up and needs help NOW! Mr. Miyagi, however, is patient and waits until “wax on, wax off “is so ingrained in Daniel that it is an automatic response before he allows Daniel to begin to fight. In this case, Mr. Miyagi, was training the fundamental movement of Karate, while testing Daniel’s desire and persistence. The final result is that Daniel becomes a champion fighter.
Of course this is a movie, but I feel the basic principles that Mr. Miyagi used for teaching Karate can be applied to our teaching. One of the hardest tasks we have as teachers is allowing a student to master one muscle coordination or release at a time. This takes patience and determination on the teacher’s part as well as the student. One of the main themes at our amazing conference this year, both spoken and unspoken was patience. Simple scales done perfectly with the correct vowel consonant combination will achieve far greater results than intricate patterns done with mediocrity. When something is working don’t be quick to move on. Be patient! Repetition with perfection will insure the highest probability of success. In the end the student should master both incredible skill while at the same time develop attention to detail. This hopefully will transfer from his application to technique, to his application of musicianship and artistry.
Moliere eloquently sums these principles up in a profound quote: “The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit”
Happy and productive teaching!
On another note (no pun intended) if you missed conference start saving money for next year and commit to yourself to be there! The positive energy was palpable. The learning was amazing for the beginning teacher as well as the more experienced teacher. I am so proud to be a part of this amazing organization of like-minded individuals.