Ideas on Learning

Theoretical and Applied Learning

I took 2 years of Spanish when I was in college. I went to every class. Visited the language lab where I put on headphones and listened to recordings of native speakers.

Then, in my Junior year of college, I went to Spain where I discovered that I could hardly speak a word of Spanish. Nor could I understand people in my encounters on the street.

I always looked at school as learning things I'd need someday. Well, someday was here and I felt totally unprepared to use the skill I spent 2 years learning.

I completed 2 textbooks of Spanish where I could conjugate verbs, fill in blanks, circle grammar inaccuracies and match words to pictures. I got an A every semester. I had been learning Theoretical Spanish.

Right after my visit to Spain, I went to work in Germany for 3 months. I couldn’t speak a word of German. I was surrounded by the language. I was forced to find words at the store, count out my money, read menus and road signs. Everything I learned was relevant to a real-life situation I was in.

About 2 months into my work, I was forced to answer the phone in my office (something I never dared to attempt). I carried on a simple conversation in German, answered the caller’s question and hung the phone up.

My co-worker looked at me with wide eyes. Somehow, I managed to go from clueless to speaking German in 8 weeks. I had figured out the basics. I couldn’t tell you anything about conjugating verbs, but I somehow was finding my way through it.

I was learning Applied German.

These experiences when I was 20 had a profound influence on how I teach music. I use sound to teach the songs, have students playing throughout their lesson, make the skills as relevant as possible and provide as many playing opportunities outside of the studio as possible.

I want students to learn Applied Violin & Fiddle.