Michael Korman’s ideas on music education
The standard model of one private lesson per student per week, while it has its place, should not be viewed as the end-all of music teaching. In organizing a music school, we have the opportunity to think bigger, serve more students in a more affordable way, and address a wider variety of personal goals and interests, keeping what works and changing what doesn’t. Beyond private lessons, we can offer group classes, lectures, experiential workshops on topics such as performance anxiety, discussion groups/book clubs, studio classes where students help each other, workshops on practicing where students and teachers are encouraged to share difficulties they have had in practicing and give and receive mutual support, and classes for musicians on yoga, movement, and meditation. For the general public, I am planning on organizing a workshop that would show how mindfulness techniques can be used to learn music, regardless of level of innate talent. Acting classes often use a variety of group exercises and games to encourage students to develop present-moment awareness, discard self-consciousness, and accept fear, and these can be used in a musical context. Participants would play either small percussion instruments or sing, and would be coached on rules for a group improvisation, and strategies for dealing with challenges.
Our core values are freedom, choice, process, and community, qualities which motivate our action: Freedom to experiment, to create, and to explore. Choice in that students are free to study wherever they like, without worrying that teachers will be possessive. Everyone individual has his or her own process, and different ideas of what results are desired. Some students may wish to perform, and some may not. Some may wish to perform at a high level, and some may not. The emphasis therefore should be on process, not only results. Techniques from mindfulness and meditation will be offered to encourage focus on the present moment and on the path each student is taking. Finally, we wish to create a community that benefits many. Everyone has something unique to contribute for the benefit of all. We need to be thinking in terms of how all of our offerings can serve to connect people, not simply be a one-off event for individuals. We can question everything about how a music school is supposed to work. This opportunity has enormous potential to challenge the status quo.