Why Do I Teach?
One day, in the middle of the lesson, Mr. Gertler asked, "Elizabeth, why do you play violin?"
"...?, well, because I love it...!"
"Hum.. Just that? Do you know why I have been playing and teaching violin all my life?"
"Because, I want to be a better person tomorrow."
Coming from my revered teacher who was Europe's most prominent pedagogue and violinist, in his 70's, that was a poignant statement.
This is the path I chose for my life. Because I love it and it betters me everyday.
Ever since I decided to become a teacher at age 13, the best, of course, everything I did was for that one purpose. I studied, practiced, performed, did chamber music, did Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, traveled,went to every major museums, read, watched, listened, walked, ate ... all the while thinking, someday I am going to share this experience with my students. So, I need to know more, I need to know better, I have to feel and experience more thoroughly, so that I have more to give to my students...
Mr. Gertler called himself a student of violin at that age. So, there, my study continues as I am still a student of violin, a student of life.
Violin gave me opportunity to see the world. I have traveled extensively and saw a lot of the world. It also opened my mind and enabled me to commune with world's greatest geniuses and their works, that transcends time and space. I feel like a time traveler that travels freely, whenever and to wherever. It is a rare privilege that I thoroughly enjoy, and at the same time, cultivates and broadens my mind. I want to share this privilege with my students. I want to share the world I saw, the great minds I encountered, wonderful spirits we share as humanity. It is a vast world out there. So much to see and so much to learn, so much to marvel at and so much to enjoy. God gave us so much~!
I want to share it all with my students!!!
Focus and Method
Ms. Park believes in Mind over Body Control. Also, Music serving People not people serving music!
Music is representation of one's own innermost feelings and thoughts through Sound. Thus, when a musician's self is not present in music making process, that music loses its value substantially.
With such belief, Ms. Park nurtures and develops the musician's artistic self,
its mind and feelings, more than dictating Ms. Park's own idea of how a particular
phrase has to be played. A musician has to be developed intellectually and emotionally in order to have a deeper understanding of people and music.
Technique is a physical movement that follows the order coming from one's mind,
which cannot exist by itself. While technical display has a wonderful value of an acrobatic show and can mesmerize people's eyes and ears, it does not really touch human soul, nor has cleansing and elevating effect as a wonderfully powerful music that speaks from the deepest part of human soul. When a performance has brilliant technique but lacks such emotional contents,
listening to that music is like looking at a wonderful gift box decorated fantastically
but has nothing or little inside ~!
We admire the outside wrapping but cannot but help feeling disappointed with empty inside~!
An excellent performer has to have,
rich experience in life,
and a very high integrity.
Clear and thorough understanding of the work one performs.
Highly developed ability-what we call technique-to present one's ideas to the listener through the sound.
So that, its performance does justice to the piece itself
and to its composer as well as to the performer oneself.
The performer is a prism the musical art work is presented to the audience.
If the prism is not of good quality, its presentation cannot be of any quality.
Whatever the prism maybe like- whether warm and kind, or cold and unkind,
whether of high integrity, or of low and mean spirit- the listener is exposed to,
without any choice,
whatever is coming through that prism.
Some very dedicated musicians talk about serving music.
Ms. Park would rather phrase it as Music serving People!
Ms. Park focuses on developing those performers who are interested in serving the greater humanity through
their music by achieving highest ability in technique, that can bring out
the performer's deepest feelings and understandings most effectively,
of the great composers' wonderful artwork!
What one does not have, one cannot give!
In order to achieve such Technique,
Ms. Park focuses on ~
1. Learn to deal with Three, not just one instrument;
Acoustics of the Hall
2. Adjust instrument to the performer's body, not the body to the instrument
3. Understand and apply Physics, Neurology, Physiology and Psychology as well as other sciences.
to develop Artistic mind,
1. Have interest and learn as much as possible other forms of arts-Fine arts, Dance, Literature, Acting
2. Have better understanding of the composers by studying the composer's life,
thoughts, his/her other compositions, its contemporary artists, History, Sociology etc.
3. Have better understanding of humanity by studying, again, History, Sociology, and Psychology etc.
So much to learn and so little time we have!
It is critical that the teachers study all these as much as possible,
and impart as much of it as possible,
at the right time, to the right person, in the right context.
What Constitutes a Good Teacher ?
Many people ask what a good teacher is like.
It is so very difficult a question to answer with a simple sentence or two. Hence, I thought maybe I should share my thoughts about teaching with you and you can each make a decision that is best for you.
Although 'I teach violin', I am not teaching a violin, I teach persons, and they play violin.
Violin playing is only a medium through which we develop as a person. We can play violin until we are well into our seventies and sometimes even into our eighties. In the end, what we are is not a doctor, lawyer, engineer, a musician, etc.; it is we as persons. Thus, what matters is not what a great violinist we were, what a great professional we were, but a great person we have been, through our entire life.
Now, when I speak of my teaching this way, then, some wonders if the development of a violinistic skill has to be then sacrificed for the sake of a personal development.
Well, not at all. On the contrary. We owe it to ourselves and to others to reach the highest possible level in the field we choose. Violin playing has been developed by the many great past and present violinists and composers. I bring my students’ minds to those great artists' level so that they can achieve the same.
Not knowing which field our youngsters will choose when the time comes, we, the teachers, have no choice but to work with them as if this is their chosen field. For to push them to make their choices too soon is not our place and equally wrong is forcing them to choose or abandon their field based on our own wishes or due to our tardiness or inadequacy.
When God blesses us with a talent, a facility, which is not for us to use for the individual’s benefit only, but to share with the great humanity, I often ask students what would happen if the farmers do not use their talent and ignore tending to the crop, their answer is “we would starve”. It is so simple that even a child knows but we so often forget.
Each one of us in the greater community of mankind has a talent that we are blessed with. We owe to others to develop it fully and up to the best possible level. Parents and teachers are the stewards to nurture our children and insure their developments to the maximum so that they can do their part greatly.
There is a saying that God couldn’t be everywhere for everyone, so he created parents. Probably that is also why God created teachers as well. We parents and teachers are here to insure the best for the future of the world, by taking a great care raising our children, the next generation leaders.
Here are some quotes that are close to my heart. (They are spoken by the great minds, but, as I hardly ever pay attention to the people’s names, other than my students, I do not know which one is from whom.)
_What I live by, I impart.
_Teaching is the art of sharing.
_The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values.
_A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
_It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
_The best that the great teachers can do for us is to help us to discover what is already present in ourselves.
_The mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.
_It is important to us use all knowledge ethically, humanely, and lovingly.
_Everyone can attend the class, but only the wise learns.