Monday, June 08, 2009

Piano Lessons

I've decided to take piano lessons. I can play, sort of, but I'm self-taught and don't know enough theory to do anything very interesting. (I can't read sheet music for example.) I have the same problem with the guitar. While I can sometimes "make beautiful music", my improvisations always fall back upon the same patterns. So I've decided to let someone else show me what these instruments can do.

Music lessons may offer a model for developing your academic writing skills. If you have someone who will look at your work for, say, half an hour, once a week, then you have a good basis for improving yourself. (I have been doing something like that with some of our PhD students this semester.) In order to get something out of it, of course, it is not enough just to show up for your weekly lesson; you have to support the weekly lesson with daily practice. You do not, properly speaking, "learn" anything during the lesson. It is simply an opportunity for the teacher to correct you: to point out mistakes and suggest exercises.

The program that I'm going to try on this model will go as follows. Each week the student will work on a particular passage of prose (from his or her own project), devoting one half hour a day to practicing a partilar kind of writing (often a particular kind of sentence). The student will essentially be concentrating on an aspect of their writing for a week, a half hour at a time, every day.

I will then meet with the student, also for half an hour, and comment on the result. For the purpose of this exercise, the student will probably have produced (very slowly, very carefully) not much more than one or two pages. As always, we will run the experiment over 16 weeks, from mid-August to mid-December.

I'll report back about it went, and also how it's going on the piano.

1 comment:

Peter J MELLALIEU said...

Hi Thomas,

It's a small world.

I discussed the Weick/Holub story in my strategy class last week and referred to your site.... It turned out I have a student in my class, on exchange from Holland (I think) who has a friend on exchange at your business school and knows you!

... and regarding music, here's my blog where I share my experiences learning to sing and perform.