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Why I teach guitar

Why I teach guitar

Yesterday one of my students commented off-handedly that he didn’t see why

anyone would want to teach guitar – it must be sooo boring! (I should probably

mention that he’s 13 and often coming out with outrageous, funny or challenging

comments). I laughed it off by telling him he must have a ridiculously low opinion of

his own company, and he elaborated that he thought playing little kids songs all day

when you could be playing with professionals must be tiresome.

I am, of course, familiar with this line of thinking: “Those who can do, those who

can’t teach” and all that. And certainly, if one is teaching boring material to

uninterested students, everyone involved will be unhappy. I have to admit; I was no

stranger to this experience back when I was in school and teaching out of boring

method books. However, even back then I had a sense that I was blessed and

challenged to be working in a field that brought together so many of my diverse

interests while actually doing something good in the world. Teaching guitar to

young children forces me to study how children of different ages learn, how the

brain works, how teachers can be a positive force in children’s lives, and, most of all,

how we can take the simplest musical phrase and make a truly musical moment.

That last reason, making a truly musical moment, is something that escapes even

some of the most sophisticated professionals. The best musicians know that

shaping a simple melody into something of beauty takes intense concentration and

skill. I believe, as do all great music educators, that every student has the potential

to create magic using whatever skills they have. It is our sacred duty to make that

happen every lesson.

Studying how children learn and how our brains develop has always fascinated me

and I even briefly considered pursuing brain psychology as my primary field of

study. In graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin Dr. Robert Duke

opened my eyes to a truly scientific approach to studying human learning and how it

relates to music education. This background has driven me to seek post-doctoral

education in the fields of Kodaly, Dalcroze Eurythmics and countless workshops and

seminars on music education. It is truly a joy to put a lesson plan together and see a

child enter the classroom with one set of skills and half an hour later leave with a

significant higher level of skills, bursting out of the lesson, eager to show their

parents and peers. On the weekends I volunteer my time teaching children in the

foster care system and virtually every time they learn some new chord or song they

are up out of their chair wanting to show their mom or sister what they can do.

Finally, I am always reminded of Shinichi Suzuki’s famous quote “It is necessary to

be concerned about the importance of educating a really beautiful human spirit.” If

playing guitar can bring my students together with their friends, can uplift their

spirits, can challenge them to develop discipline, can enrich them and open their

minds to ancient worlds and distant cultures then I will take that over a Carnegie

Hall debut any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

About Dr. Klondike Steadman

Klondike Steadman is a guitar instructor and director at Orpheus Academy of Music

where you will experience a musical learning environment that is nurturing and

professional with the highest artistic standards. He and his wife, Wendy Kuo, founded

Orpheus eleven years ago ßwith the goal of bringing together teachers who are

dedicated to learning about your personal musical goals and helping you achieve them.

Dr. Steadman Owner

Orpheus Academy

Music Lessons in Austin, Texas with Piano, Guitar, Voice and Music Camps
Orpheus Academy 3918 Austin, TX 78731
(512) 231-8999
(512) 354-3922