Cello There: The Funny Side of Music Education

Music Education has a whimsical side to it. Music teachers and student musicians get to see the funny in class and rehearsals. Cello There takes all of this and puts it in one place where we can see a new set of Music Education Funnies every weekday by Gregory Pavliv and MusicTeachingGuru.com

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Personal Story: Positive Reinforcement, Music, Baseball and Hockey?

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Personal Story: Positive Reinforcement, Music, Baseball and Hockey?

…when I reminisce about school experiences in sports and music, I always think of both fondly. But I use what I learned while playing in ensembles, every day.

Think about individual failure. Typically if someone commits an error on the baseball team, everyone sees it. It becomes a talking point. They even mark it on the scoreboard with an ‘E’ just to remind the poor kid that they made a mistake. If someone commits an error in a music ensemble, the rest of the team picks up for the mistake. If a violinist plays a wrong note, other violinists end up playing louder to cover the note. If a vocalist comes in at the wrong time, somehow the show goes on and the choir doesn’t miss a beat.

Instead of fostering embarrassment and failure, music fosters helping others, and learning from mistakes. (While I know this is a charged statement, I believe it to be true.) Let’s look at ‘after the game’. Yes, in sports there must be a winner and a loser just as in music there are good performances and bad performances. But after a bad musical performance, a cellist or a clarinetist isn’t ‘benched’ or forced to run laps. Instead they just have to work harder to correct their mistakes so that it’s better next time.

HOCKEY AND THE CELLO

When I was playing hockey, I loved being the goalie. I loved the pressure of being the only thing between the opposing team and a goal. I loved the laser-like focus you had to have to follow the play and anticipate puck movement and I loved the challenge of never getting a break during a game. There was one problem. I was awful. Truth be told, I was goalie because it was the best seat in the house to watch the game. And this was a case where no matter how much passion you have and no matter how much perseverance you showed, if you didn’t have ‘it’, you didn’t have it… And I didn’t have it. But that didn’t stop me.

The same can be said when I picked up the cello in high school for the string orchestra. I couldn’t make it sing. And that was ok. I figured out how to play so that I complemented everyone around me without taking away from the overall sound of the composition. My teacher made me become part of the ensemble. But instead of just losing or being benched, my teacher slowly molded me to join the ensemble. In that secure environment, you know what, I flourished. And it was all because he made me feel safe.

In the end, when I reminisce about school experiences in sports and music, I always think of both fondly. But I use what I learned while playing in ensembles, every day.

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