Here's How to Correct Us
- When you point out a mistake, give a way of correcting it; don't just say "it's wrong," or we "better get it right."
- Look back on all the music teachers you've ever had, anything that they told you that helped you play better. For example, instead of yelling at students for not doing a crescendo, tell them to use more bow and play closer to the bridge.
- Also, be sure to praise the students when they do well.
- Please don't yell at us thinking that we can automatically fix a mistake. Break it down. Ask us if we know what we did wrong. This engages us and makes us more aware of what we're doing/how we're playing. If nobody knows the answer, then tell us. Then, have us play it slowly, very slowly. When we're playing it correctly, then you can start speeding it up. But, first we need to devote it to our muscle memory.
- Be respectful and polite, yet let the orchestra know you think they are capable of doing better.
- Never, ever, and I mean it - never, ever blame us kids when it's your fault. We like you better when you made a mistake and admit it - it makes us trust you more.
- Kindly make them aware of their mistake and rehearse the excerpt until it is correct.
- Go back to where a mistake was and see if the kids know what the mistake was. Being active in the process of fixing a mistake helps students fix it best. It is also good to encourage your students to stop playing and circle a mistake they made immediately, regardless of if the orchestra is still playing or not. They should be expected to be able to jump back in as soon as possible.
- Share examples- these are 10x more likely to stick in our heads! At least it works for me :)
- Simply telling them where a mistake is and not making sure they mark it, or not going over that spot in a short sectional until it is fixed, will get you nowhere because the students will not learn to fix that mistake.
- The first time we play the passage correctly, up to tempo, have us do it again. Make sure to ask us to really pay attention to the way it feels, sounds, etc. Then, have us play the measure before and the measure after. Then start building on the measures around that particular passage.It's slow work, but it'll stick in our memory.
- With humility. Acknowledge we're all human and we all just don't get it sometimes.
- Correcting conductors: Depends on the situation - Somethings need to be discussed at break, somethings should be passed up the section to the section leader, and sometimes a cute remark is appropriate for some comic relief :)
- Correcting Students: Treat us with respect and like professionals. Adolescents have a lot going on internally and externally, and I believe the benefit of the doubt should always be applied before jumping to conclusions.
- Be frank, but please do not be demeaning or rude! Great music making starts with everyone getting along. I appreciate direct, meaningful corrections and then a chance to make an adjustment - and congratulate us on the fixed issue! (It's amazing how much a heartfelt "thank you!" can mean to a group of hard working musicians. We do really want to please our conductor!)
- Clearly and directed towards whatever section has the issue. Not accusing a specific student or creating a big deal about it - just directing the issue and moving on. If it does not change, speak to a student separately or don't let the specific section move on until it is fixed so that they learn to listen and work together.
- Correct us from a perspective of "we're all here to make the best sound possible, and here is a correction in order that we may do that"
- Not TOO nice, has high expectations and calls out sections when they're lacking
- Gives both positive and negative feedback to all sections
- Be direct, honest and loving all at the same Time.
- Instead of telling us that we played it incorrectly, try saying "IF you tried it this way" whether it is with different fingerlings or a completely different technique.
- Anything is okay within moderation, appropriateness; use discretion
- Do it over, and over, and over, and over; be hard to satisfy in a good way.
- It is important to always be positive or start with a positive comment to make the student feel right and important but it is easier to get right to the point after that instead of beating around the stick trying not to hurt anyone's feelings.
- Repetition is the mother of all learning-the right and wrong ways
- Compliment us on what we said and then slowly let us down easy. Explain the correct answer or way to play something and then partially explain how it works or how to do whatever it is. leave the rest for us to figure out.
- Without being patronizing, but rather as a mentor. I like conductors who don't look down on the orchestra, but rather as equals.
- If simply telling us what you want is not working it is probably because we do not know that what we are doing is incorrect or not what you desire, so tell us! One of the reasons conducting is such a difficult job is because you have to tell people that they are playing their instruments wrong- but we must remember it is not that we are playing wrong, it is that we are not playing to suit you. In a healthy conductor to orchestra relationship, a player will play to suit the conductor for the sake of making art in that moment regardless of personal attachments we may be reluctantly holding on to.
Please share your own knowledge and advice here
Please share your own knowledge and advice here