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“Aha” Moments

It’s no exaggeration to say I learned a TON of new things at the Andover Educators’ conference in June. I took sooooooo many photos and notes, and I haven’t even begun to finish notating the lessons I took ... not to mention the ability to even process all that I gained from that week.


It would be basically impossible for me to *not* already be implementing some of this goodness into my teaching. No passionate teacher would withhold new learning opportunities from their students, especially when they feel confident in the potential benefits to that experience.

And so it came to be that I have witnessed no fewer than 4 musical “aha” moments for my students - two vocal and two piano.

For the piano students, we talked about the wrists and the forearms; how easy it can be to succumb to ulnar deviation; how allowing more freedom of movement from the shoulder and the elbow can extend said freedom through the wrist and even into the hand.

**Prior to the conference, I knew some of this, but I hadn’t considered it in a while. Additionally, two of my conference lesson instructors spent time applying this information specifically to my body, which in turn gave me a greater depth of understanding and ability to apply it to other students.**

With the vocal students, I focused on elements of both anatomy and breathing:

- expanded discussion of the shoulder joint and the full extension of the arms

- connections between rib movement and lung movement

- utilizing less audible breathing (“the throat is a hallway”)

These few concepts enhanced each student’s breath management - I know because I asked them 😉. Both students noticed a significantly slower speed of inhalation, resulting in a more relaxed core area once they began to sing. They both also felt that they were able to sing higher and more loudly, but not with more difficulty - if anything, both said it felt noticeably easier.

**As with the piano piece, each of these ideas were touched on in my conference lessons. Teaching can be exponentially more effective when the instructor has personal experience and understanding of the knowledge, as opposed to simply memorizing it from a textbook.**

Obviously every student’s learning experience is different, and I’ve only really hinted at just how much discussion and explanation took place during these lessons. The end result, however, was a more efficient and effective musical practice for each student. Are they done learning? Of course not. Have I taught them all they need to know about these ideas? Not remotely.

And yet: did the brief time we spent in these first lessons result in forward progression in their learning? ABSOLUTELY.

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