The Teacher’s Purpose by Clarinettist, Alba Garcia

Alba is a clarinettist who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. As a musician she has performed with some important orchestras such as `Filarmonica del `900` from Teatro Regio di Torino, `Orchestra del Conservatorio G.Verdi di Milano`, `Ensemble del conservatorio G.Verdi di Milano`, Manson Ensemble (Royal Academy of Music), Academy Concert Orchestra, London Mahler Orchestra, ULSO, LGO in important venues as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, The Forge, Teatro Regio di Torino (Italy) and Accademia delle belle arti di Brera(Milan, Italy). She has been working on chamber music projects that mix different kind of arts and musics as contemporary dance, jewish and jazz to show the classical music in a different way. She is currently a freelance clarinettist and a teacher full of determination and commitment. She is currently the principal clarinet of LGO and LGO soloists. She teaches students from Beginners to Intermediate.

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“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”  –  Khalil Gibran

When I started studying music, no one ever told me how the world of the music actually works.

At first, it was just a hobby and I did not practice. I also went through times where I wanted to give up playing – and now I am a professional player. The constant changes made we wonder – how could I have ever not enjoyed playing this instrument, when now it occupies an integral part of my life? Why I didn’t like it? Was it something to do with my lessons? When did I start enjoying the clarinet? These questions formed the basis of my style of teaching as it is now, as I believe they are integral in addressing some of the key issues in pedagogy now.

When I was a child, I started playing the clarinet for fun in the marching band of my home town in Italy. It was there that I learned the basics of the music and the instrument. At the age of thirteen, my mother convinced me to audition for the Conservatoire (a move I was initially apprehensive of). After five years I got to a point where I had to decide if that was the right path for me. At this stage, I had started doing summer courses with foreign teachers, and I began meeting people from all over the world, allowing me to that there was much more to the world of the music than I first thought.

Afterwards I started to discover what made me enjoy the music more – and this was my teacher. This realisation made me think about the way he taught me, and also about why I found his method so effective. I realized he never forced me to do something, he never told me I had to practice and he gave me always many choices about the repertoire. He helped me to understand what I actually wanted to achieve, and I believe that this was the best way for me to learn, as any other way would not have been encouraging and I may have even quit music.

Through these lessons, aside from learning clarinet performance and technique, I learned how to be my own teacher. I understood how different students can be, and how hard it is to be a good and effective teacher. Now, as a teacher, I understood how hard certain elements of learning are for some students, and the multitude of ways there are to make them love what they do.

In my opinion the most important thing in teaching is knowing your pupils. Understanding what makes your students tick is the most important element of music pedagogy, and I believe is fundamental to getting the best from them. Every pupil is different, and the way you approach them as a person can affect the way they will react to your teaching. Some of them may end up playing Carnegie Hall, some of them are probably doing it just for fun, some of them could be there just because their parents want them to. When you understand your pupils, you can work efficiently and decide on the goals and expectations for each of them.

As teacher you are the role model, and they need to feel you are supporting them. Young pupils are extremely perceptive, and can tell if you in fact trust in them, or you are just doing your job for the payment at the end. They need to enjoy what they are doing, and you have to make it enjoyable for them, even if it is just for fun or for a short period. Music can have a big effect on people, and as teacher you have a responsibility to make the experience as positive as possible.

A good teacher should always be enthusiastic and keep the student’s enthusiasm through different ways of creativity. Pupils need fun to keep working in their own time, and they need to know they are making progress so they do not become bored with practice. Giving them the right way to work on their instrument is the best way to make them enjoy it.

As a teacher, you should be organized, yet open minded with regards to changing tact at every moment. You must be careful when attending to a problem, and also when you are solving said problem, as most of the time it is probably driven by social reasons as opposed to any physical impracticality with the instrument. As a good teacher you are always learning yourself, so it can be useful to observe the learning processes of others, as this can be reflected in your own playing.

And through this all, the primary purpose of teaching must remain with your desire to share your passion for music, and love of performing.

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Alba can be contacted via her mobile on 07426365705 or on email alba18rodrigeuz@hotmail.com

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