I love teaching.
I had a lesson with a friend, Eric, who has written some really good music. Normally, I would have been a bit cautious of agreeing to giving lessons to someone whose work I admire. However, since his main instrument is the keyboard I was much more receptive to the idea. He was interested in finding a new way to approach the guitar, and I thought if nothing else I have a slightly unorthodox approach to the instrument. The few hours we spent together was really amazing for me. What started as a discussion of how I approach the fretboard and writing guitar parts developed into an exploration of what are really the governing principles of music.
I'll probably wind up writing up a lesson on my site (which is sadly in need of some updating) that covers some of what we talked about. But what was so amazing about the lesson was that, as I talked about how I approach the guitar, I began connecting a lot of the divergent ideas I've been exposed to lately. It was a bit like one of those fabled eureka moments drawn out over the course of three hours. I really feel as though the act of exposing someone else to these ideas I hold to be true helped me to grasp them in an experiential way. To not just believe them to be true, but to experience them as true.
Unfortunately, most teaching encounters don't produce these results. At least in my mind. I wonder if there is a way to increase the possibility of this happening, both for me and my students. It's obviously harder when the subject matter is of a more mechanical nature, and when the student isn't prepared or lacks the interest and drive to explore the subject matter for themselves. So how does one overcome these obstacles? Is it my fault for being unable to find the approach that allows the student to connect with the information? How does one go about learning to do this? Maybe this is where I need to focus my energy.
In other news, I just found out that there's a show of Sol LeWitt's (sorry, no homepage and I'm tired of linking to Wikipedia) work at the MMoCA. I'm not intimately familiar with his work, but I'm definitely fascinated with the New York scene at the time he was there. I'm hoping to have the time to see it this weekend. From what I understand, his work is concerned with structure in many different ways. As this is a concept I'm dealing a lot with in my writing, I'm hoping to find some inspiration, or at least discover some interesting questions.