In my continuing series of posts on pet peeves we have arrived at the topic of teachers who don’t teach technique.
First, this post is not meant to be one that points fingers at any specific horn teacher. There are many reasons why some students progress rapidly in their studies and some don’t. Some just work harder. A good ear is critical. It helps to be a bit stubborn also. But anyone who has heard students audition for them who have studied with a variety of teachers previously will eventually have to conclude that some teachers just don’t teach technique or at least don’t teach it very effectively. They may be great players, locally or internationally famous, inspirational, supportive, all that, but they don’t work with students very well on the nuts and bolts of their playing and as a result it is harder for those students to reach their potential.
This category of teacher falls short of the mark when I hear their students play materials such as scales and Kopprasch studies. The student can’t play scales well, can’t transpose well, don’t have full control of dynamics, the low range is not worked out, and can’t play a real staccato. The student is partially to blame too for not working on their weaknesses enough but they were in fact also let down by their teachers as they needed to be pushed (gentle or otherwise) to master these elements of horn playing in focused study materials.
This gets at another aspect that is part of why technique is not taught as well as it could be: lack of teaching materials. Some critical skills are not event addressed in popular horn technical materials such as double and triple tonguing, most of the scale studies are very predictable, and transposition and low range work is hit or miss. This is why I am working now toward putting together my own technique book.
In terms of my own teaching now I try to balance things in lessons and try to always have the ultimate goals of the individual student in mind. Some elements of playing are easier for some players, no question, and some teachers have special strengths in certain areas as well. But no matter what we all have to teach technique.