August 2009 Convention
New York, NY

Top Twelve Teaching Tips

Interactive Roundtable Discussion

Interactive Roundtable Discussion

Top Twelve Teaching Tips, an interactive roundtable discussion sponsored by the Pedagogy Committee, used an experimental format, one requirement being participation by all. Chairs were arranged into 12 circles, and each circle was assigned a different teaching topic as follows:

  • Flute Lips: Correcting Embouchure Issues and Teaching Lip Flexibility
  • Inspiring Phrasing, Musicality, and Confidence in the Shy Student
  • Rhythm Busters
  • Hands On: Teaching Correct Hand Position Including the Transition to Open Hole Flute
  • Technical Mastery: Ways to Approach Difficult Passages and Runs
  • No Pretzels Please—Addressing Posture Issues
  • Elephant Breaths—No Mice Allowed
  • Braces Ahoy!
  • Sight Reading
  • Multiple Tonguing: Addressing the Mechanical and Air Flow Issues
  • Teaching Tone Color
  • Vibrato Production and Use

Attendees were instructed to select a topic and find its corresponding circle. Each person was also given an index card for recording ideas. After a brief welcome and instructions given by committee member Stacey Steele, 10 minutes were allotted for group leaders to introduce their topic and for group members to jot down their number one teaching tip for that topic. The next 15 minutes were devoted to idea sharing within each group and, ultimately, deciding on the number one tip. During the final 15 minutes, group leaders collected the cards and read the top tip from each circle. (The Top Twelve Tips are included in the online handouts; for a complete list of all ideas, contact Chris Potter at cpotter@altoflute.net.)

Pedagogy Committee

Pedagogy Committee

At first, many were hesitant. However, once things got underway, enthusiasm for the task at hand grew. Everyone in each group seemed eager to tackle the subject matter assigned, and most of them shared their best and most effective ideas for the assigned topic. Some, however, were there merely to be “sponges” and soak up the ideas presented, and this they did in earnest. In some groups, lively discussion ensued, and some of the “sponges” asked questions of the others who, in turn, provided helpful tips and solutions. Based on the enthusiasm and loud chatter throughout the room, the experiment was successful!

Groups were led by members of the Pedagogy Committee (Mary Byrne, Holly Clemans, Rebecca Dunnell, Cynthia Ellis, Deb Johnson, Chris Potter, Rebecca Hovan), members of their subcommittees (Kathy Blocki, Rhonda Benson Ford), and other respected teachers (Kristy Balliff, Kathy Cameron, Pat George). Approximately 120-140 were in attendance.

—Rebecca Hovan

photos by Brian Covington