Back to Basics for Music Teachers

Simplicity never looked so difficult.

After blowing balloons, 200 music teachers.were left with the task of popping them “which, after failed attempts at what appeared to be the easiest method, some turned to the unorthodox.
One woman got up off her chair, placed the balloon on the seat and then took a leap backwards, mission accomplished.

For the participants of the Ontario Registered Music. Teachers Association convention at the Skyline Brock Hotel, it was a lesson that the simplest of tasks can be the hardest to perform.
Lecturer Barry Green spent the day breaking down old-schools of thought, that performing is about picking up an instrument and playing the notes on the sheet in front of you.

” They have a tradition of old school teaching which does not embrace psychology,” he said of music teachers – in general. Now they must concern themselves with other factors including a student’s mental make-up as well as physical health and performance anxiety.

The balloon popping and other exercises . gave the teachers awareness of their own feelings: joy, frustration, an illustration. of how their students might feel. It also gave them insight on how to deal with these matters.

” We know everything that goes on when everything s wrong, but we don’t know so much about what goes on when things are right. That’s because it’s a non-thinking stage, and we re concerned with what are the conditions that lead with these stages. We haven’t paid attention to that because we’re too carried away with what we’re doing. This increases that awareness of what leads up to the positive experience said Green.

The teachers left with a greater respect for simplicity. “The answers they’ve already experienced,” said Green. “And by understanding the theory and understanding their own process they can more quickly structure, a more successful performance.”

Green believes the change. in thought came 20 years ago through international athletic events like the Olympics, Eastern bloc athletes were accompanied by not only a coach but also masseurs and psychologists, acknowledging that a number of items can affect one’s performance.
Green was the principal bassist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 28 years. He wrote the book The Inner Game of Music which spells out his theory.

Trust and awareness were key themes during the sessions.

Fran Saxby of the ORMTA’s Niagara Falls branch said the conference provides the teachers with motivation, which is crucial, considering many teach privately from their homes with little influence from others.

” You learn how to trust yourself,” she said. “You know how to breathe, you just have to let go.”
The city branch is an active unit, meeting monthly to exchange ideas and offer others support.
The four day conference ends Wednesday. One of the highlights is the Provincial Student Competition, which will be held today, 2.5 p.m. in the Brock Foyer.

-Rob Anrusevich