I heard a fantastic lecture this past March on Stage Fright from Psychotherapist Melissa Duncan. In addition to her insight on the genetic sources and internal and external influences of stress, she went into detail about getting into "the zone" and taking a self-inventory to help cope with Performance Anxiety.
One exercise she asked the audience to do was write about three separate performances; specifically, how you got through them. We were asked specific questions to elicit detailed memories:
What do you remember about that day?
Visualize the lights. What color are they? Where are they pointing to on stage?
Look at the audience. Who do you see? Where are they sitting?
Who did you make eye contact with?
What were you wearing? How do you feel in your dress/suit/outfit?
The list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a great jumping off point to remember past performances. The idea behind this exercise is to review what you remember when feeling anxious in order to increase confidence.
Virtual teaching is...an adventure. Navigating this time has certainly been a change.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I've created a series of signs that I hold up while teaching via FaceTime and Zoom. As ridiculous as it is to have gold glitter glue letters on magenta paper, any great teacher will tell you that SAYING less and DEMONSTRATING more has longer-lasting impact on students. Plus, with the challenge of not being in person and hearing comments in real time, visual cues are becoming increasingly necessary.
So, when a student doesn't use enough air, they see my "blow" sign. It inevitably elicits a giggle, followed by better air.
Among these other treasures are Elizabeth-isms, phrases I use often:
"Tone doesn't maintain itself". (Translation: your long tone game needs attention).
"I think you want to do that again." (Translation: that sound was...not awesome.)
As much as I love teaching one-on-one, there's something so special about coaching a chamber ensemble (or in the case of the Vandegrift High School saxophones, a saxophone army).
VHS instituted chamber ensembles two years ago as a way to bring together like instruments during the spring semester. This year was most special for a couple reasons; one, it was something my seniors really looked forward to during a time of year where they're feeling burnt out. Secondly, it happened to be the last time the 2019-20 band student got to play together. That of course wasn't the plan, but with COVID derailing all other performances and festivals, this was a really special time to share the stage with these other wonderful teachers.
Today’s (unconventional) teaching gem: hearing the excitement of an 8th grader talking about the courses she’ll take in high school...which doesn’t include band.
Maybe I should be upset that this girl won’t continue to play an instrument because I personally value music so much. Maybe I should “check out” and focus on my other kids that will be in band again next year. Maybe I should talk her into staying.
I’m going to do none of those things.
If I only cared about and taught students whose “thing” was saxophone, I’d be a pretty miserable teacher. If I tried to live vicariously and create protégés because I think it’s important, I would end up exhausted and frustrated.
To all of my students, current, former, and future: I will do my absolute best to celebrate the things that bring you joy. Especially when the things that excite you are best for you. Go join the robotics team. Go study animal husbandry. Go be a scientist. Go be a lawyer. Go be an aesthetician. Go be a nurse. Go be an entrep...