I’ve been reading a fascinating book lately, titled “The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents and build the music studio everyone wants to get into” by Philip Johnston. Right from the start, the book caught my interest because Johnston says that today’s music students are different from those 50 years ago yet teaching methods have remained essentially the same: A student is given assignments to practice; He/she comes back one week later and the teacher makes corrections and suggestions.
“Lather, rinse and repeat until it’s time for a new piece.”
Yet students today are compromised because of homework, sports activities, after-school activities, and many more demands on their time. Plus they are used to “instant gratification” such as mastering a video game in just a few minutes or being able to write a term paper in “two clicks.”
The section which has particularly piqued my interest is the chapter on motivating kids to practice their instruments in the face of all these time demands. Johnston advocates “listening to the future” by listening to recordings of the assigned piece. Many of these are readily available on YouTube and in some way, listening to the piece over and over is just as good as practicing. I always say that more than half of playing music is mental anyway — it’s a lot more than just moving my fingers up and down!
So that’s what I’ve been doing lately — listening to several of Bach’s Great 18 Chorales on YouTube which I’m in the process of learning. I guess you could say that I’m practicing at my desk! (Yes — I have a musical as well as a typewriter keyboard on my desk).
In case you’re wondering, I’ve been listening/watching/learning Bach’s Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 662 (Click here) and Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, BWV 665 (Click here). What I like about these videos is that the music scrolls by as it is played. Unfortunately, the performer or the organ on which it is played is not listed.
As I said it’s just as good as practicing!