During a rehearsal today getting ready for our showcase performance at PASIC 2014, a couple of the guys were discussing their struggles with the piece. One mentioned how difficult it was to finally put all the gestural licks together in context with other people. It was difficult because he didn’t have time to think about the next lick, he just had to play it. After he said this, we all turned around spontaneously and announced:

“Hey, I have that problem, too!”

It made me confident in the theory that if I have a problem, chances are others do, too. And not just any others, but namely students.

This concept is important in my approach to pedagogy. I generally write these moments on paper or make sure to store it in my mental “bag of tricks.” This bag of tricks is helpful especially when teaching younger students. Remembering the laundry list of previously-made technical errors encourages more proactive teaching.

We all have weak left hands non-dominant hands (NOTE: I am a lefty, so technically, my right hand is supposed to be weak…but it’s not. My left hand is weak. I know, weird.). These weak hands struggle in similar ways between players. They all lack the right amount of squeeze during a buzz roll. They all feel weird when playing uptempo soft passages. And generally, it’s all the same fix. Squeeze more. Use your wrist, not fingers.

Knowing we are all the same gets us to the answer much, much quicker. And gets students playing their music with more satisfaction.