For example, the Suzuki method was born when Dr. Suzuki realized that all Japanese children learn Japanese. While his friends and family thought he was odd to go around trumpeting the obvious (“All Japanese children learn Japanese!), Dr. Suzuki had hit upon the potential of connecting learning in one area, to another. In a sense, remembering what we already know. He thought, if every child can learn to speak Japanese with fluency and ease, then why not music? He began an observation of the learning processes for language and movement in children, and applied what he observed to teaching violin. After the brutality World War II, he felt that music, as a language of emotion and story, could be used to nurture compassion, in his students. In other words, he understood that learning is transferable.
However, in order to “remember” what we already know, we need to encourage creativity in our students, our children, and especially in ourselves. One aspect of creativity is seeing connections between, what appear to be on the surface, unrelated things. This sort of creativity is exactly what can help us in the transfer of learning from one area to another. It means thinking about the process that led to a success, and understanding what our mind is doing in order to learn. Creative thinking can help us find the underlying concepts that connect learning in one area, to another.
My teacher trainer, Ronda Cole, has taken another step with the idea of applying language learning to musical learning: the introduction of the poem assignment. Musical phrasing and articulation (of the bow) has similarities to the phrasing and intonation of speech. Speech and language are familiar and intuitive to students: by thinking about them, they learn how to think about the music. The poem assignment involves practicing confidence, projection, and emotion! These are also musical things!
So, please remember when you are working with your student/self, to draw attention to successes, even (especially!) small ones, and ask what worked? What did your mind (body, ears, eyes) think/do/see/hear? Ask your student and yourself what is similar about learning chess and learning rhythm. Or learning science and singing, or all the shapes that resemble the curve of a well-placed finger on the string. What stories does the music make them think of? How does memorizing work? Is there more than one way? What words are helpful words, and why?
I hope that some of you will read this and begin sharing your answers to these, (or other questions!), in the lesson. See you soon!