Monday, November 23, 2009

Group Music

Every so often Jeffrey Agrell writes a post that clearly states something in my mind that I've never so clearly verbalized myself, and he's done it again in this post. Following my "regular reads" has been one of the most fruitful exercises ever when it comes to trying to develop the learning materials.

In the post linked, Jeffrey makes the point that working with others can be much more beneficial than solitary practice. A basic premise of the materials I'm trying to create is that they enable players of various instruments and with different skill levels to work together. I'd much rather facilitate small ensembles working and learning together than giving lessons to individual players. Working in a group can vastly accelerate one's musical progress, and it can be a lot more fun than plugging away on your own. Being able to focus on just one element of the music rather than trying to do it all by yourself allows for a much more relaxed approach.

When I had my practice in San Antonio, one of the places I worked was in the closed classrooms for emotionally disturbed children in a public school district. Many of the students had very poor social skills. Working together mostly non-verbally playing music together was a great way for them to learn how to get along successfully with others, and over time the verbal social skills would usually follow.

In my current Friday group that performs as the Kenwood Players, one of the things I most enjoy is watching how working together musically is creating a wonderful social dynamic amongst the players.

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