Finding the Balance: Navigating Different Teaching Methods
Karen Ruprecht B.Mus (Hons) L.Mus.A
“You get more stuff done with one on one”.
Specialist teachers are generally experienced musicians on their particular instrument. They therefore may have a large collection of specialist repertoire and material to draw upon. In my case, I have a filing cabinet full of bassoon music as well as reed making/adjusting tools and books about ‘everything bassoon’. The specialist teacher will often have connections with other musicians who play their instrument and perhaps ties with professional groups and organisations. Clearly the student receives 100% of the teacher’s time and the lessons are tailored to suit the individual. Furthermore, the lessons move at the student’s pace of progress. When I asked my young bassoon student Angus about it, he replied “You get more stuff done with one on one”. There is often less preparation for the teacher for specialist lessons due to the fact that there is only one student and the repertoire that they are working on.
Consequently, in addition to my bassoon teaching I recently took up a woodwind position at a school not too far away from my residence. Oh, the luxury of being in one place for a day and a half! I rejoiced to my Head of Department when she informed me that I now had my own desk! I said something along the lines of “Really!? That is just for me?”
“I really like what we do at school in group lessons as we are not all playing the same line of music. There are parts I can hear in lessons that I can’t hear in band”.
The social aspect of a group lesson, particularly in younger students, can make the whole experience more enjoyable and helps energise the students. More students can be included into a school instrumental music program with group lessons, and it also facilitates collaborative learning. Tillie, a current student of mine, mentioned to me “I really like what we do at school in group lessons as we are not all playing the same line of music. There are parts I can hear in lessons that I can’t hear in band”.
Regardless of the method of delivery, it is undisputed that music is good for all students and although many will not go on to pursue a career in music, they love the escape that music provides. It is not about perfection for many students, they just want music in their lives and the joy that it brings.
Some years ago, Richard Gill AO, who was a well-known music educator and advocate for music education for children, wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that “It is no longer anecdotal but a matter of scientifically proven fact that children who have good, strong music teaching have advantages in other areas of learning”.
Karen is a sought-after educator and clinician for all things double reed, having presented at various educational conferences around the state. She runs the specialist bassoon program and teaches woodwind with Education Queensland and teaches bassoon at various schools in Brisbane. Karen is also heavily involved with the Australasian Double Reed Society, which promotes the playing of oboe and bassoon by providing opportunities, competitions, workshops, conferences and performances throughout Australia. Karen Ruprecht has a deep love of the bassoon! She has extensive experience in performance and teaching of this beautiful instrument. Karen enjoys a busy schedule of freelance playing mostly in Australia, however she has also performed in Switzerland and France.