28. November 2018 · Comments Off on Sparkwork! · Categories: Teaching

I played classical music in my early training, but I was a bad, undisciplined student, so I would dread my teacher coming over. He gave me “Alley Cat,” which had syncopation with it, and finally I was like, “I’m going to sit here and play until I know how to do that.” He gave me a couple of other things, “Deep Purple,” by Peter De Rose, and “Stairway to the Stars,” by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli, and those chords did something to me.

—Jeff Goldblum

I read it here.

This quote reminds me that finding something to trigger a student’s interest is so important. Feeding them the music I like isn’t necessarily the ticket. Yes, they need to learn standard oboe repertoire, but if I can find something that piques their interest that may well get them to practice more and, eventually, move to things I think are vital for an oboist’s repertoire list.

I had one student who was quite accomplished but didn’t seem to have a spark I wished he could have. One day I pulled out some Scott Joplin arranged for two oboes. BAM! That did it. We pulled those out frequently. He could sight-read them quite well (he said, “I don’t count it so much as I feel the rhythms”), and doing those duets became quite a joy for both of us.

I’m writing this as much for myself as for others: recently a few of my students aren’t practicing. Perhaps I need to find a “sparkwork” for them.