At BMF, we are constantly discussing how we can more creatively show students the magic of making music together rather than telling them how to make music alone. At our curriculum workshops and faculty meetings we go around the table and ask how each of us are “keeping it real.” By “keeping it real” we simply mean keeping the students experience as close to an actual gig or jam session as possible.
All the teachers at BMF are “real” musicians. What I mean by that is that we all play lots of music with others, often, and in many different contexts. Some of us are playing on stage at Lincoln Center while others are playing at some one’s wedding party. We all share one essential quality: we love the experience of making music with other musicians and all of it’s joys and challenges. And at BMF, we have a simple mission: to share with our students those joys and challenges. We want every student to experience that joy and we want every student to understand what needs to happen to overcome the challenges they face as musicians.
I believe that the tools needed to overcome those challenges are taught most effectively by showing a student through playing with them. And playing with them as much as possible in every single private lesson or band rehearsal. Talking about it is the wrong approach because it uses the wrong language. As musicians we use pitches, rhythms, and phrasing to express ourselves not a lot of words (with the exception of lyrics in a song). Reading about how play is also the wrong approach, we use notes to communicate the written language, not words. I like to say that if we just trust our ears, they will not fail us. Let your ears guide you.