Friday, October 14, 2011


(This is the first response to the BOLT donation challenge I wrote about below.)

–an amount of teaching given at one time
–a period of learning or teaching
–a passage from the Bible read aloud during a church service
–to learn one's lesson
–to teach someone a lesson

So many meanings, yet they all really mean one thing. I especially like the last one. Even with its oh-so-obvious meaning in the music world, it still carries that admonishing connotation that I never want to convey when I am, indeed, “teaching someone a lesson.”

So, the word itself essentially means that there is some kind of learning process happening during a usually pre-assigned period of time (hey, maybe I should send that meaning to Webster's, I think it's pretty good?). If one looks at it that way, the implication is that there's a teacher (coach, trainer, etc.) doing the teaching, and a student (apprentice, sports player, etc.) doing the learning. However, anyone that's devoted any time to teaching (in my case, over 20 years) knows that it is much more of a two-way street.
In music, this couldn't be more accentuated (excuse the pun). A musician (student) spends countless hours being instructed (taught) on so many different levels: holding the instrument properly, having the correct body posture, specific (and countless) technical exercises; but all that work ties into the “product” they are creating: the glorious music that's supposed to come out of their instrument. And therein lies the catch.

It's hard enough for a teacher to put into words what he/she knows at that point in their career (hopefully) so well, especially with regards to purely technical aspects of playing: the tricks to playing with a straight bow, control of a good spiccato (a bouncing stroke), the various widths and speeds of an expressive vibrato. Even those concepts require a lot of “translating” from what comes so naturally and what our teachers so capably put into words for us so many years ago. The real challenge comes when a teacher is confronted, whether with a new student or for the first time altogether, with having to convey a meaning of a musical phrase, a direction of a certain musical idea, or a style of music from many centuries ago. That's the real challenge in teaching.

Even after so many years in the profession, I still find it stimulating to exchange ideas with my students about what all those symbols on the page are trying to convey, to get them to discover for themselves how to use all those techniques we worked so hard on in order to make sounds that move and, yes, entertain, the listener. And that's a lesson that teaches both the student and the teacher.

-Ivan Stefanovic


  1. A+! Looking forward to the next one ...


  2. I had learned lot of beneficial to itself, I highly recommend your stuff friends. For this time great deal has changed of my life a distinguished road

  3. I can say one thing that life constantly does lessons for us and not only during school years we get lessons, as we constantly evolve.