Day 29 in Arauca, Colombia

(Note: this addresses a harplist thread in which people complained of teachers discouraging their students with harsh criticism.)

Harplist friends and others

This thread ("not musical") has a lot of good insights for teachers - establish goals, give encouragement, etc. These values are definitely present in the harp teaching that I have experienced here in Colombia. As I've described elsewhere, a teacher takes several students at the same time, moving from one student to another and offering instrTuction and encouragement.

This week I'm in Arauca, Colombia, with a new teacher, Nelson Acevedo; links here and here

Acevedo has a studio where he offers coaching for one-hour sessions. When I arrived, there were three other harpist practicing. He charges for an hour session in this workshop environment. I'll be with him all week, but I may simultaneously try other teachers.

It is amazing to have a good selection of teachers, in a small town like Arauca. Folks here readily distinguish between a good teacher and a good performer (many fine performers are not good teachers).

Acevedo quickly tested my skill level and then assigned exercises which I was able to quickly learn. After I passed initial scrutiny he begin instructing a song I've been wanting to learn, Alma Llanera. This has been called the second national anthem of Venezuela: examples here by Venezuelan youth orchestra directed by Gustavo Dudamel and as sung by Placido Domingo, and finally a solo version (from Peru of all places, on a Paraguayan style harp!).

(This song references the "Arauca Vibrador," the rushing Arauca river, and because I am here in Arauca, on the banks of the river, my host thinks I should not leave without learning this tune.)

I'm writing this morning to reinforce important ideas about teaching. I have been a teacher at college level and now as substitute in public schools, but I am very far from being a music teacher. With harp I am in the role of student, and far inferior to children 8 and 10 years old here. 

Despite my limited skills, I certainly appreciate the welcoming approach I have received from harp teachers here in Colombia. The group setting provides motivation. I get and give encouragement to others. Without undue disparagement, I am able to rank myself above some, below many others.

I'm impressed with this approach to teaching a musical instrument. I wonder why we do not see it in "continental" music education. Or, am I just not looking in the right place?