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Training teachers. (Dear Reader).

This issue of American Music Teacher contains several articles of a pedagogical nature. From the "unsung heroines" of American piano pedagogy to memories of the Curtis Institute and its great pedagogues to an interview with Frances Clark Center Chair Louise Goss and MTNA Executive Director Dr. Gary L. Ingle, there is something for all music teachers in this AMT.

As we examine the art of training future teachers, an emerging concern for some is: "Are we focusing our doctoral level work on training piano teachers, or are we training teachers how to train teachers?"

Most pedagogy programs in colleges and universities require a student teaching experience of some duration, and part of the evaluation of this experience usually involves video, or at least audio, taping of a number of private (and perhaps group) lessons. It then falls to the pedagogy professor to wade through these tapes and provide feedback and suggestions about the teaching. Sometimes they are pretty average, sometimes disappointing, sometimes they show the promise of an outstanding teacher in the making, and every once in a while they are hilarious.

One of the most difficult areas of reviewing and evaluating the tapes (aside from the enormous amount of time it takes) is to differentiate between poor teaching and different teaching.

Sometimes the pedagogy student will clearly need help correcting faulty teaching approaches--often they will talk too much, taking the simplest concept to the depth of a graduate course. Or the intern may begin correcting minute details in phrasing when there are glaring errors in accurate rhythms. One of the biggest challenges is for the student teacher to diagnose the problem, rather than just correcting the symptom. All these errors are identifiable and can be worked on to produce a better and more successful lesson experience.

The real problem, however, is when the teaching reveals a style that is different than usual and extends beyond my envelope of comfort. Is this poor teaching or different teaching? Can this style of teaching be successful with various types and levels of students? Will this style of teaching create a firm foundation for twenty years of the stresses and demands of the independent teacher? Can I give valid suggestions for improvement without asking the intern to completely change a style that is characteristic of his or her deepest personality traits and firmly held history of musical training?

Of course, there is no easy answer. However, I wonder if, at the doctoral level of pedagogical training, we are spending enough time training the future university professor in issues such as these? Although the pedagogy teaching assistants probably receive at least some instruction in this area, have we, as a profession, developed to the point where we are actually training our graduate students how to train teachers?

As teachers who strive to keep pace with this evolving field, you are encouraged to peruse this issue and observe its far-reaching implications in your lives and those of your students.

--Rebecca Grooms Johnson, NCTM National Pedagogy Chair
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Article Details
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Author:Johnson, Rebecca Grooms
Publication:American Music Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Words:501
Previous Article:Leadership.
Next Article:What's right with being personal? (In Unison).
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