15. April 2013 · Comments Off on “AA” · Categories: Teaching

This is a post about one of my teaching methods. I realized I never post about these, and some might find them interesting … or silly … or crazy … you decide! I’ll try to post these now and then. If I remember. As I tell my students, I suffer from “OldBoeBrain” … I’m old, I play oboe, and my brain is a little off because of that so I don’t always remember things well. Or maybe my brain is more than a little off. You can decide about that, too. Just don’t tell me what you decide, please.

But enough of my silly ramble …

When I run across an exercise that is completely tongued and isn’t terribly difficult for a student I sometimes write the letters AA above it. This means “Add Articulation”. I tell the student that I don’t care what they write in, but something has to be added. Some choose to do the same articulation for each measure or pattern, while others give me the most incredibly complex and changing articulations. The first time one did that I asked, “Why so many changes?” She explained that doing it all the same was too boring. My response to that was, “Well, I’m okay with that, but now you have to DO it!” She had difficulty, and learned that whatever she wrote in I would require her to play. She continues to write her complex patterns and I really get a kick out of them. (The next time she comes in I’ll have to photograph one. What you see below is from another student. He, too, didn’t want to write the same thing for each pattern.)

I think this allows a bit of student creativity, causes them to think a bit about what makes some articulations harder than others, and it also makes sure they look at the assignment at least once. Granted, that “once” might be in the car on the way to the lesson (?!). It also gives me a bit of insight into the student. There are the everything must be alike students and there are those like the one who said that everything the same is boring! It’s fun to predict what a student who gets this assignment for the first time will do. And no, I don’t always guess correctly.


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