Last semester, I taught only three students. This was the smallest enrollment I have ever seen. Two were advanced and one was a beginner.
The advanced students were tortured with the ideas I gathered from my four days with Fripp. The beginner?....well. He probably couldn't play an A minor chord for you right now even though we worked together for about 13 weeks. He is not unusual. Some end up absorbing very little.
These pics are from the UC classroom. Every week I'd come back and see my same wacky scrawl still on the chalkboard. UC has gotten rid of the Music Major program. It's like they have an aversion to the liberal arts in general. I have watched and waited since 1987 to see this day. Private lessons flew so low under the radar that they missed being cut. I feel very lucky to teach.
At this point, I no longer feel a little angry at colleges in general for their "part-time" way of handling qualified teachers. You know, all of the work, but no security or benefits. I jumped ship and found a full-time job, saving me from the path I was on of no less than five part-time jobs at one time. It was an insane schedule and I don't miss it at all. I hardly knew where the hell I was half of the time.
[ABOVE Torture for the advanced students.]
Teaching is fun for me anymore. Even when they try to get an easy grade, wiggle out of work or try to get under your skin - an old and inevitable trick. Female students will flirt (Skirts get tighter and shorter. One gal came to a lesson in a black micro-mini. Subtle, yes?) and male students puff out their chests. But in the end, this is useless puffery. I let them know it's about one thing: passing or failing baby.
An old, old trick is when a student tries to name-drop-the-famous-guitarist to make me feel inadequate as a player. When a student tries to push perceived buttons of my insecurity, I floor them a bit when I say, "Oh yeah. That guy's a great player." Or the bomb "I can't play that, no." I am realistic in my assessment of my place in the pantheon of players, but the irony is lost on them. They who can barely play place me up against the best players in the world. It shows ignorance yes, but it shows I am getting to them. I am holding a mirror up to their flaws on the instrument. I am to encourage, but to challenge always.
I have an idea for a guitar class. It's going to be exciting if I can launch it for Fall '09.
No doubt certain students will try to wiggle out of working as best as they can and some will soar. But I am willing to make my life just a little bit less comfortable by trying this out.
So. Happy New Year.
And for you potential students, here's some free advice: Keep a good posture, play in the mid-range and leave the mini-skirts at home. Daddy's not interested.