Friday, August 7, 2009

And then there was a farewell concert.

Had a great day today. Went to Kaichi Elementary School without any clear intent for observation. Our class schedules are in japanese, so although I can identify which level class is in each campus, I can't work out who's teaching it.

So anyway, after starting the morning in one classroom, I went for a little wander. . . and found myself in Matsumoto Sensai's room. Being the delightful and incredibly polite person that he is, he told his whole class how I had helped him in Melbourne and I was "very sweet teacher". His assistant also plays baroque violin (gut strings, truncated bow, tuned to an A so flat my brain kept insisting it was a legitimate G#. A pleasure to play and a challenge; theoretically, since the whole violin is pitched down, my fingers should stay in the same places and relative pitch will be fine. However, being the good Suzuki kid I am, I wanted absolute pitch and fought every position change. Sigh. So our duet handel sonata did have some beautiful moments, but there was a lot of laughing!)

So obviously I stayed and participated in the class as a student. The real drawcard was that phrasing and dynamics (including vibrato control) were being taught with motivation. So every child was asked what was most important to them and that's what the first movement was about. And then HOW to get that feeling was discussed; bow speed, varying vibrato speed, etc.
Both teachers asked every student to play phrases solo and feedback always contained an element of "you can improve THIS thing". Was so nice to be a student and to shape technique from an "artistic" or "creative" perspective.

After the class Matsumoto Sensai asked why I had come to Japan. I explained how I thought it was important to be part of the culture and society - to integrate philosophy into day-to-day, not just teaching. If the teacher stops learning, they're not going to be much use to their students. It's too easy to get complacent and forget just how satisfying learning can be. So I said that too.

A, you'll love that on the bus over to the concert he commented that I was a very Japanese teacher :)
Not sure if he meant in the way I teach or that I parked in his class and enjoyed being a book six student all over again, but I don't think the distinction hugely important. I just took it as a compliment and bowed as low as you can go in a bus seat!

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