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#1304127 - 11/12/09 03:20 PM Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons?
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Are you aware of your facial expressions during lessons?

Do you mostly:
1) Smile?
2) Frown?
3) Keep a neutral or passive face?
4) All of the above?
5) React spontaneously?

What about your students answers to questions 1-5?

I was reading about our "happiness environment" in a New York Times Health article and wondered if our faces help set the "tempo" in our studios as much as our teaching might.

How important is "happiness environment"?
How is "happiness environment" created in a piano studio?

Betty Patnude


Edited by Betty Patnude (11/12/09 03:21 PM)

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#1304201 - 11/12/09 05:21 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
I'm not sure what my expressions are because I am not thinking about myself during the lessons. How can a teacher be aware of her own facial expressions if she is focusing on her student?

It is my goal to maintain a relaxed, positive atmosphere during lessons.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1304208 - 11/12/09 05:25 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Barb860]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
Ditto, Barb.

If I thought there was something actually unhelpful about my expressions I'd maybe think consciously about them, but it seems rather artificial to me.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1304491 - 11/13/09 12:53 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
mstrongpianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 38
Hm, I've never thought consciously about this topic. I know that I greet students with a smile. A smile seems to melt away their tensions of the school day; students are responsive to that simple gesture of warmth. A smile provides reassurance needed to build a student's confidence in performance (and I do count their playing during lessons as a performance). Feeling that sense of reassurance also seems to make them better able to cope with my response to their performances.

Facial expressions, IMO, are an accurate measure of a student's readiness to try and of understanding a new concept. Of what the OP listed 1-5, I feel that my students and I react spontaneously to one another and to the current circumstance presented us.


PS to the OP: Do you have a link for this article?

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


I was reading about our "happiness environment" in a New York Times Health article and wondered if our faces help set the "tempo" in our studios as much as our teaching might.


Betty Patnude


~mstrongpianist

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#1304562 - 11/13/09 05:41 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: mstrongpianist]
ToriAnais Offline
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Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
I second the request for a link to the "happiness environment" article. Sounds interesting.

For me it very much depends on the student. If I have energetic/enthusiastic/eccentric students I can't help but grin.

Kids doing grades I probably have a neutral face as I'm concentrating hard on getting the most i possibly can out of their relatively short lessons.

There are a few kids who I feel very self concious around because I don't have a good relationship with them but I don't want them to feel bad, so I am conscious of remembering to smile and be friendly because it isn't the way I'm feeling inside.

I think the sign of a genuinely good relationship with a student is the last point though - spontaneously. You feel comfortable to frown, to laugh, to be serious - whatever the moment requires. And you know that regardless, you will come across as liking them, because you do!
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1304595 - 11/13/09 08:32 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: ToriAnais]
R0B Offline
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Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: mitts_off


I think the sign of a genuinely good relationship with a student is the last point though - spontaneously. You feel comfortable to frown, to laugh, to be serious - whatever the moment requires. And you know that regardless, you will come across as liking them, because you do!



+1 smile
_________________________
Rob

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#1304798 - 11/13/09 01:11 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: R0B]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I have been collecting information that could apply to piano teacher's demeanor during piano lessons: I recently read “A Language of Smiles” and make notes from it that support of my theory about the “Importance of Teacher Smiles in Piano Teaching”. In addition other reading I've done leads me in the same direction some from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Daniel Amen which I am not attempting to be specific about here. I asked the questions because of my interest in the topic.

A Language of Smiles – (The Wild Side - Olivia Judson) New York Times 10-27-2009
http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/a-language-of-smiles/


Quotes from the article:
“Saying “eeee” pulls up the corners of the mouth and makes you start to smile.”

“The mere act of smiling is often enough to lift your mood; conversely, the act of frowning can lower it; scowling can make you feel fed up. In other words, the gestures you make with your face can — at least to some extent — influence your emotional state.”

“The notion that facial expressions affect mood isn’t new.”

Betty Patnude


Edited by Betty Patnude (11/13/09 01:12 PM)

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#1305359 - 11/14/09 11:17 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
I have a theory.

Well, lots of them. My production of wacko theories has never slowed. But this one might be relevant.

Really successful teaching may depend far more on subtle nonverbal reinforcement of the precursors to correct actions than we realize.

I am sure we see this happening with the really great brass and voice teachers. They give the same exercises and verbal instructions the ordinary ones do, but they get different results. This is also true in sports, e.g. golf or gymnastics.

How much this happens with piano I don't know. I strongly suspect it is a neglected component of all physical teaching.

Subtle nonverbal reinforcement can shape posture, relaxation, attitude, things we'd never expect. What you say may be a small part of the teaching you do.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1305377 - 11/14/09 12:00 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: TimR]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: TimR
I have a theory.

Really successful teaching may depend far more on subtle nonverbal reinforcement of the precursors to correct actions than we realize.


Oh, I agree with that statement for sure! Nonverbal is the key!

Thinking back to the teachers who I trusted, they weren't smiling and all the while underneath, gritting their teeth! There was a sense that they could be trusted by their nonverbal actions! You can just feel it!
_________________________
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1305379 - 11/14/09 12:07 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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TimR, you seem to be going in the same direction as my own thoughts as a student. We need feedback and communication from the teacher and that includes nonverbal gestures. An artificially pasted on smile tells me nothing. A smile of encouragement, or a sudden smile of true pleasure when you nail something are priceless. I think an attitude of attentive listening and genuine interest in your efforts will reflect in the face. Would the clip below of a masterclass with Pavorotti reflect the elusive thing you were trying to describe?

Pavarotti masterclass

The first thing that strikes me is that Pavarotti, the teacher, is listening very intently. You see it on his face. When the singer tries to do what he said, Pavorotti again listens intently, communicates with his hands and also his face. Near the end where the singer does not quite manage to stop his mouth from opening for the high note, there is a humorous shrug, and a silent communication going on between student and teacher even while he is still singing.

Of course if a teacher has a young student who is forced into lessons and doesn't want to be there, a teacher cannot be exhibiting genuine deep interest if the student herself is not putting out and is disinterested.


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#1305402 - 11/14/09 12:52 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Tim, Diane and Keystring have brought into the topic something that I was hoping would appear when I posted the topic originally! Yea!

I exaggerate teaching points, work with them on their imaginations, I "act it out" in so many ways using my face and body and gestures to convey the verbs and adjectives and "points" I want to make. It's not just spoken, it's left in their minds as something to remember.

If a preparatory beginner is learning from a pre-chart "Itsy Bitsy Spider" we go to the wall and walk our fingers up and down several times making spider motions with our fingers (this is an exercise for shoulder/arm/hand/fingers). We do "spiders doing push up's" on the bench top with our hands (again exercises). All the time making faces and being the spider and singing the song. Action conveys things. Words often by themselves fall short.

And Keystrings comment about "the young student who is forced into lessons and doesn't want to be there"....I would say to that...I feel it has been my job to "rescue" them and turn the situation around...and I use my whole being as though the student on the bench is my most important student, my most promising student, and it is my job to reach and teach this child right now in the present moment. I have to get through to him or her in everything we are doing...or there is no point to my teaching...and no point to him or her being here. And, my lack of effort on his or her behalf helped close the door on any potential there was to reach and teach.

And, Keystring says..."if the student is not putting out and is disinterested"....I say with all sincerity..."That is where our job starts!"

The ones who are easy to teach, I say hooray for us! The ones who are harder to teach, I say hooray for us! (In a louder voice, with my arms over my head, stamping my feet in excitement, "Hooray for us!"

Keystring is not a piano teacher but is an accomplished and avid self-teaching adult, my experiences and philosophy of teaching is probably different than many piano teachers in that my whole purpose is to self-actualize the student on the bench. If they didn't come to me that way, they will most likely leave with new sense of purpose, enthusiasm, hopefullness and something accomplished when we are done.

I think we have to make it exciting for them - smiles, gestures, actions that show continuously who we are and what we know as teachers and that we enjoy music, our work in teaching, and them.

We are at our best when we think in possibilities and potential.

Betty Patnude

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#1305413 - 11/14/09 01:14 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
IMHO
Any pupil will quickly pick up a shortfall in teacher confidence (worrying about smiles and frowns)... that’s why the best teachers boast a dazzling ability to demonstrate up-front the marvel of the piano.

As a confident Pied Piper there is no thought of introvert self-appraisal ... those long-eared rats should all be totally enraptured and energised by the spell of the music.

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#1305415 - 11/14/09 01:22 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
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Thank you Betty. There is something I would like to correct however:
Quote:
Keystring is not a piano teacher but is an .. avid self-teaching adult.


I have been forced to suspend lessons for over a year for health and financial reasons that cropped up, and as such I've been forced into some degree of working on my own. I do have a teacher, however, and some of the thoughts I expressed reflect that experience. I don't have a piano teacher and the 6 lessons I did have some time back are not close to adequate, but I do have a teacher for my main instrument. I have also taught one-on-one as a trained teacher, but not instrumental music.

The one that that has struck me repeatedly is the importance of truly listening, on both sides. That is what both Pavarotti and the singer in the masterclass seem to be doing.

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#1305443 - 11/14/09 02:17 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thanks for clarifying, keystring. I spoke of the way that I think of you as you have done an exceptional job of continuing your music education with your own efforts - research and asking questions and clarifying answers have been things I've noticed you doing on Piano World - and I know that you are playing your piano and growing there too. I remember that you have worked with piano and violin teachers and that you are a teacher too, but I think a big complement to you is the work you have done independently. It wouldn't surprize me that you one day offer music lessons and teach either violin or piano or singing. You may have other instruments, too, that I don't know about. You have put your energies to good use when another person forced to stop lessons without a teacher would stagnate not seeing the options that you see.

I like what you said about "truly listening" in referance to the Pavarotti example: Yes, of course! That is what teaching is all about from my point of view. The lesson is not a unit of time that we have to get through - it's an opportunity to make significant input and to make helpful corrections. A teacher can't do that as well if he or she is not watching the student for indications. And, the student, if he has become captivated with piano lessons is going to give his full attention to what the teacher says about his playing. It is our job to snare their attention, make our comments valuable, and to be a catalyst to the student.

Teaching is so not about the printed pages in a method book. Teaching, to me, is about the growing relationship to each other and working together to pave the way in music for the student to become achieving, successful, and musical.

Does it help to think of our pursuits in music, whether teaching or learning, that we are relating to a higher power than ourselves? Or that we become empowered ourselves through our pursuit?

We must not think of our students as "bumps on logs in the hole in the bottom of the sea".
There's a hole in the bottom of the sea....etc.
There's a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea....etc.
There's a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea....etc.
There's a bump, bump, bump, on the log, log, log, in the hole, hole, hole, in the bottom of the sea.


Betty

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#1305450 - 11/14/09 02:32 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Actually I did appreciate what you wrote in your previous post, Betty, but also wanted to give some credit to my teacher. Thank you for the support. smile I'm thinking that we are actually all self-teaching, because if as a student I expect to get stuffed full of ability by the teacher, it doesn't work. We're drawing on something within ourselves and we make the effort. Actually here's hats off to all self-teachers for whatever reason. It is not an easy thing.

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#1305586 - 11/14/09 07:53 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Things do go much better when the student has an interest, some personal motivation, some ability, energy, time to apply the lesson on his piano and can see where that takes him. Depending on how ambitious he is with more time and effort he's likely to make decent progress musically and also, the most important part of piano lessons that is totally unexpected, he learns a lot about himself as a piano student. Any procrastination is his, any excuse making is his, any thing he is producing is totally his to demonstrate.

The something within is "golden".

I always joke around about "teach him some motivation", "teach him some ability", but those things are at their very best when they come innately from within - not by "injection".

Self teaching is not an easy thing, you are so right.

When a self teaching adult student reaches a wall or a plateau, there is ample music to keep her busy for the rest of her life at the level she has now reached and can be successful at. So going horizontally creates depth and bredth with more music literature.

Sometimes it is wise to get off of the demand for progress that is an ascending vertical incline of constantly new materials that continually demands more new skills from us.

Then when we gear up again toward "Mount Olympus" we have regained our energy to climb, but we also have the reward of having many new pieces that we would not have had time for if we had not relaxed our efforts temporarily for the width or expansion.

I think we should have lots of experience at using the skills we have gained to establish a strong base before moving on. Deep and wide like a river.

This is where the student becomes aware of where his journey has taken him to and I think it's a very contented place that produces a sigh of relief and a big grin because he reached the moment of "this was all worth it!"

Betty

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#1306786 - 11/16/09 05:44 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
One specific thing I do:
There are a few students who continually look over at me, while they're in the middle of playing, apparently to try to judge my reactions. For them, I work to make my face look blank and distant during the performance, and then I allow myself to revert to normal immediately afterward.
_________________________
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#1306804 - 11/16/09 06:09 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: david_a]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Quote:
For them, I work to make my face look blank and distant during the performance, and then I allow myself to revert to normal immediately afterward.

Asking as a student: why?

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#1306809 - 11/16/09 06:34 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I give lessons online so I don't have to think about that ( I probably wouldn't think about it anyway) but if I did, I'd probably come across like Dick Cheney...



I think he's smiling here.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1306819 - 11/16/09 07:01 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
For them, I work to make my face look blank and distant during the performance, and then I allow myself to revert to normal immediately afterward.

Asking as a student: why?
So that they will (hopefully) direct more attention to the sound and the feel, and less to the teacher's (admittedly very cute) expressions. smile

Or, in other words, to say: "I'm listening right now. You listen too. We'll talk in a minute."
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1306840 - 11/16/09 07:41 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: david_a]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Thanks, David, that makes sense. I have a teacher who will signal things as I play, but they are when he thinks something should be communicated. But I'm also listening to my own playing.

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#1306994 - 11/17/09 02:47 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: keystring]
Frozenicicles Offline
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Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
This is actually a very interesting topic. You may not realize it, but we actually communicate more with our non-verbal cues than our verbal ones. I actually did a workshop on this because I'm training for a job in a healthcare field. We were taught ways to make patients feel comfortable, which I imagine would apply to students as well. Here are a few suggestions that I learned:
1) Position yourself at eye level with the other person (i.e. sitting if they're sitting and standing if they're standing)
2) Don't have an obstacle (such as a desk) in between you.
3) Don't intrude on their personal space (about an arm's length away is a good distance)
4) Don't cross your arms or legs because that makes you seem guarded, having arms by your side or on your lap and your palms slightly facing up is a less threatening pose.
5) Really put yourselves in their shoes as you're listening: listen intently and be sincere in your facial expressions. A smile is generally a good expression to have when appropriate, and tilt your head slightly when listening to show that you're paying attention.
6) Make eye contact--this one might not be good for all students. I was quite shy when I was younger and found it intimidating when teachers were always staring at me while talking. I still sometimes stare at the music rather than at my teacher when she is explaining things. smile
The most important thing is to genuinely like the student. Most people can feel whether they are well liked or not by the non-verbal cues that you're subconsciously giving off, regardless of whatever expression you attempt to plaster on your face.


Edited by Frozenicicles (11/17/09 02:49 AM)

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#1307025 - 11/17/09 06:04 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Frozenicicles]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles

3) Don't intrude on their personal space (about an arm's length away is a good distance)...
6) Make eye contact--this one might not be good for all students. I was quite shy when I was younger and found it intimidating when teachers were always staring at me while talking. I still sometimes stare at the music rather than at my teacher when she is explaining things. smile
A couple of interesting ones there! I really don't like the intrusion into my personal space - I always back off, so I do try not to do that to others.
And I understand what you're saying about constant eye contact being intimidating - as if there's too much resting on your response. Sometimes you actually don't want every word, gesture, expression to be noted and commented on.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1307079 - 11/17/09 09:09 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Frozenicicles]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles

1) Position yourself at eye level with the other person (i.e. sitting if they're sitting and standing if they're standing)
That's an interesting one and explains why I intuitively spend much of my teaching time on my haunches. I've often wondered why I do that!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1307589 - 11/18/09 02:48 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Frozenicicles]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
This is actually a very interesting topic. You may not realize it, but we actually communicate more with our non-verbal cues than our verbal ones. I actually did a workshop on this because I'm training for a job in a healthcare field. We were taught ways to make patients feel comfortable, which I imagine would apply to students as well. Here are a few suggestions that I learned:
1) Position yourself at eye level with the other person (i.e. sitting if they're sitting and standing if they're standing)
2) Don't have an obstacle (such as a desk) in between you.
3) Don't intrude on their personal space (about an arm's length away is a good distance)
4) Don't cross your arms or legs because that makes you seem guarded, having arms by your side or on your lap and your palms slightly facing up is a less threatening pose.
5) Really put yourselves in their shoes as you're listening: listen intently and be sincere in your facial expressions. A smile is generally a good expression to have when appropriate, and tilt your head slightly when listening to show that you're paying attention.
6) Make eye contact--this one might not be good for all students. I was quite shy when I was younger and found it intimidating when teachers were always staring at me while talking. I still sometimes stare at the music rather than at my teacher when she is explaining things. smile
The most important thing is to genuinely like the student. Most people can feel whether they are well liked or not by the non-verbal cues that you're subconsciously giving off, regardless of whatever expression you attempt to plaster on your face.


Frozenicicles,

That's a very good piece of advice you've shared with us, I think. That's precisely the kind of information I was hoping to see in this topic that I started. I do think it matters how our students "see" and "hear" us and that a certain "comfort level" is achievable for both of us. If we are unwilling to use what we have availabe in facial gestures or body mannerisms, we are possibly holding back from the student some valuable information about ourselves and the music we are playing. To be without these things is almost a passivity and a restraint. Does that help us in our teaching? They probably are some situations when passivity and restraint are required.

Surely giving the student something pleasant to react to in their lessons might just be ourselves!

Betty Patnude

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#1307590 - 11/18/09 02:54 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If we are unwilling to use what we have availabe in facial gestures or body mannerisms, we are possibly holding back from the student some valuable information about ourselves and the music we are playing. To be without these things is almost a passivity and a restraint.
It may be, but it also may not be. I think we need to use gesture in a way which is natural and comfortable for us - because if it's not comfortable for us, I doubt it will help the student.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1307725 - 11/18/09 11:28 AM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: currawong]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If we are unwilling to use what we have availabe in facial gestures or body mannerisms, we are possibly holding back from the student some valuable information about ourselves and the music we are playing. To be without these things is almost a passivity and a restraint.
It may be, but it also may not be. I think we need to use gesture in a way which is natural and comfortable for us - because if it's not comfortable for us, I doubt it will help the student.


I'm inclined to think you need to withhold the obvious nonverbals under conscious control, and then release them as appropriate to the student.

If my teacher said, "that sucked farts out of a dead seagull," I'd laugh and play it again.

If she raised an eyebrow with my youngest child, that one would probably melt down and refuse to play.

But I think much of real teaching takes place with the nonobvious nonverbals, and that's a lot harder to control.
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#1307812 - 11/18/09 01:54 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: TimR]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If we are unwilling to use what we have availabe in facial gestures or body mannerisms, we are possibly holding back from the student some valuable information about ourselves and the music we are playing. To be without these things is almost a passivity and a restraint.
It may be, but it also may not be. I think we need to use gesture in a way which is natural and comfortable for us - because if it's not comfortable for us, I doubt it will help the student.


I'm inclined to think you need to withhold the obvious nonverbals under conscious control, and then release them as appropriate to the student.

If my teacher said, "that sucked farts out of a dead seagull," I'd laugh and play it again.

If she raised an eyebrow with my youngest child, that one would probably melt down and refuse to play.

But I think much of real teaching takes place with the nonobvious nonverbals, and that's a lot harder to control.


My goodness! You are a pretty tolerant student if you can accept the "dead seagull" comments from your teacher. I'll have to try it sometime and see how that works but I think I would be risking decorum and perhaps among certain older students risking an abrupt departure slamming the door as they go out.

And, I'm amazed that a raised eyebrow would melt a child down so that they would refuse to play. I think I would live in fear that my eyebrows might do that to a kid, after all I do keep them plucked and groomed, and also the nostrils, and chin. (I'm being silly and it's coming across sarcastic, I know.) What age is your youngest child? I want to be forewarned as to which age group this might happen!

What a huge contrast between what it is that the teacher is "allowed" to do between the parents tolerance and the child's tolerance!

I wonder if I should feel insecure as I start my teaching today?

I'm feeling quite mirthful and I don't know it that's a positive or a negative. We shall see.

Betty

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#1307821 - 11/18/09 02:14 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: currawong]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If we are unwilling to use what we have availabe in facial gestures or body mannerisms, we are possibly holding back from the student some valuable information about ourselves and the music we are playing. To be without these things is almost a passivity and a restraint.
It may be, but it also may not be. I think we need to use gesture in a way which is natural and comfortable for us - because if it's not comfortable for us, I doubt it will help the student.


Currawong,

I wonder if there is a difference in our approaches because of who we teach and what we teach.

Perhaps you are working mostly with independent students who are already skilled in musicianship and possibly working on the higher level master composers toward performance.

I work largely in elementary music education building the basics, sightreading, rhythmic accountability, fingering, techniques, and teaching how to analyse, practice and memorize. I carry many students to 6 - 8 years of study but I do not teach someone who is preparing for college majors or who wants to perform in competitions, but I have passed these students on to local college professors in their private studios once their path is determined by their accomplishments in study with me and if they and their parents are interested in transferring.

Could this be a significant difference for deciding if and when facial expression and gestures are helpful to the student or not?

I do understand there are teachers and students who choose to communicate only in words - whether the verbage is minimal or encompassing would be acceptable on both people's parts.

So many parents want the lessons to be fun for their kids - I can't imagine that there is no facial expression and no gesturing during these times when fun is being experiences. And the younger set work with puppets (Mozart Mouse) and story line which certainly require the "storytelling" role and lots of animation.

I am just thinking about the pro's and con's of the question while posting and I don't want to make it seem like a big conflicting difference between us from my point of view. It isn't.

Betty

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#1307894 - 11/18/09 04:40 PM Re: Smiles, frowns, neutral faces during lessons? [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5924
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Could this be a significant difference for deciding if and when facial expression and gestures are helpful to the student or not?

I do understand there are teachers and students who choose to communicate only in words - whether the verbage is minimal or encompassing would be acceptable on both people's parts.

So many parents want the lessons to be fun for their kids - I can't imagine that there is no facial expression and no gesturing during these times when fun is being experiences. And the younger set work with puppets (Mozart Mouse) and story line which certainly require the "storytelling" role and lots of animation.

Of course I use facial gesture and expression - in a way which is natural and comfortable for me. I don't "put on" gestures because for me that seems contrived and unnatural. It may suit your style, and if so, go for it! I just don't think you can apply it to every teacher. I have taught all ages and levels from pre-school to undergraduate, and what I do with a 3-year-old is obviously different to what I do with a 20-year-old university student, or a 75-year-old adult beginner. But it is still within the bounds of my overall teaching style, which may not be as flamboyant as that of others.

I found some of the contributions rather interesting. And I can see Tim's point, that different individual students have a different individual reaction to gestures. What is trivial to one may have an overwhelming impact on another. His two extreme examples were just that - extreme examples given to make his point. I wouldn't get hung up on the actual words the hypothetical teacher might have said smile

I suppose my main problem with how the thread began was that it seemed like gesture was something you stuck on to your teaching, and that seemed artificial. As long as we remember we are all individuals with our own style, and that each style may be valid and effective, then I think the discussion has been helpful.

(I had an interesting recollection while writing this. I've learnt an immense amount from a variety of teachers I've had the opportunity to work with and observe over many years. Some were pretty extroverted. But one of the best kindergarten teachers I worked with was actually very understated, quiet and calm. And the children hung on her every word.)
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