Posted by Jay Bertolet on December 30, 2001 at 20:44:37:
In Reply to: Re: Education: Who Needs It? posted by js (long) on December 30, 2001 at 17:40:50:
I'm not going to try to answer your rhetorical questions but I do understand your viewpoint. I would offer two other issues to consider:
I agree (in reality) with your assessment of having a real player doing the teaching. While I know many fine doctoral students who have nearly limitless qualifications as well as great playing skills, I believe that there is something special involved in taking the skill to the level of actually winning a job. Those of you who have done this know the feeling and I still wonder to this day where some of the stuff I did that day came from. In a way, this is one of the hardest things about being a player. Trying to live up to the day you won teaches you a great deal! But that is another discussion.
There are two other situations that should be addressed. One is the "natural" player. Sometimes, these guys are flat amazing. Also, they sometimes don't understand a thing about why they play the way they do. Communication skills or not, I steer my students well clear of these guys because they can be more frustrating than anything. I think a good teacher has to understand the process (causes and effects) intimately before (s)he is capable of teaching that skill really effectively. The last thing I want to say to a student is "why can't you just do this?".
What about the retired professional? My first college teacher, Abe Torchinsky, was retired from playing for quite some time when I came to school. He used to tell me repeatedly how his playing days were well past him. Yet, he was as effective a teacher as I have ever had. Admittedly, there were some things he couldn't help me with but on the balance, I have to say that I learned a great deal of what constitutes my playing from him. He was never able to be a playing example in our lessons however, his recordings spoke for themselves.
Which I guess brings up the true question. What constitutes a great teacher? Is it someone who can demonstrate for you and illustrate (by example) how to do things? Is it someone who can teach you all the basics verbally, and give you all the necessary knowledge to allow you to develop your own excellence? Or is it just someone who is smart enough and observant enough to be able to help individual students with their specific problems and be able to say "just the right thing" that ignites the spark?
I think the answer is that it takes all these things and more. Furthermore, I think the answer is different for every student. That's why when a student asks me where (s)he should go to school, the first thing I tell them to look at is the teachers who are placing winners in auditions (assuming playing is what the student is training for). In my experience, following the trail of success leads to a teacher who can do it all and the students prove it in the real world.
My opinion for what it's worth...