What I no longer know

My CFE: Shadowing a band teacher for three weeks in nine elementary schools throughout Surrey, B.C.

Something I have had to un-learn and re-learn during my community field experience is the fingerings of various notes on the clarinet.

Certain woodwind instruments have multiple ways of playing the same note, and therefore can be confusing to teach to beginners. Often times the fingering diagrams music students have for their instruments show only one way of playing a specific pitch and leaves out any possible alternatives. It is assumed that this is done to simplify the amount of information given to students in order to maximize their learning, however by doing this books frequently eliminate other (more efficient and technically correct) ways of doing the same thing.

A new student learning any sort of instrument might interpret this with an absolutist type of thought process such as “every time I see this note: I put my fingers here and make a sound,” instead of actually realizing there are other easier ways of playing the same note.

With all of this said, I have had to rethink my own approach towards teaching students in larger ensemble contexts where time spent helping individuals can be at a minimum. One revelation I had was through discovering the line between where/when I should teach proper instrument technique and where/when I should modify my teaching strategies to include any technically incorrect (but pedagogically easier) fingerings to assist a certain group. Realizing this was important to me because it allowed me to be more aware of the different strategies I could use when working with different groups of students to help them best succeed.

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