The Philosophy of The Smith Method
Every person has talent. The great majority of people have musical talent. This talent lies latent unless it is nurtured and developed through use.
RESPECT FOR EACH PERSON AND THEIR UNIQUE TALENT UNDERSCORES EVERY ACT OF TEACHING.
In today’s world there are many perspectives on what constitutes learning. Some of these involve an extensive look at a particular subject, or an exploration of lots of information. However, while the subject matter and the information are important and useful, they are not primary. It is the person that is primary. Each person already has within them the potential to be a wonderful, unique and creative musician.
THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER IS TO DRAW OUT THE UNIQUE MUSICIAN THAT IS WITHIN EACH STUDENT
Education is a voyage of discovery. It is up to the teacher to guide the student to discover the musician within. This is done by playing music from the earliest stage and through every stage of development. When the student makes music with the teacher, he or she is supported in their music making and enjoys their musical experience. As the teacher guides the student to acquire musical skill and repertoire, they discover the unique character that each student has to play, interpret and create music. The goal is to play music, to make music each and every lesson.
Children today are surrounded by all kinds of music in the media and their varied musical tastes reflect their personal preferences and the culture in which they are immersed. Over time students can develop and change their style of playing as they mature through the stages of childhood and adolescence and then as adults. It is common for guitar students to begin on a student classical guitar to learn the basics. Then if they develop an interest in singing songs they might desire to also learn to play a steel string acoustic guitar. Other children will gravitate to an electric guitar, especially in their teen years. Still others may prefer classical or flamenco or various ethnic or folk styles of playing. It is essential that any approach to teaching guitar be open to the needs of the person. Starting and staying with the classical guitar as the child matures allows the child to develop the best musical and technical foundation for all styles of music. However the teacher and student may at times play all types and styles of guitar until the student settles on the music that best rings true with their heart.
THE GUITAR TEACHER IS BEST SERVED BY BEING ABLE TO GUIDE STUDENTS THROUGH THE BASICS OF ALL STYLES OF GUITAR PLAYING
Traditional approaches to teaching popular guitar rely heavily on chording, improvisation, and understanding music theory as it applies to creative guitar soloing and comping. These approaches are very valuable, lauded and encouraged. In addition classical guitar teachers stress the playing of a set of classic repertoire consisting of standards from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical , Romantic, and Contemporary Periods of music. These studies are also lauded and encouraged.
However, lacking in both popular and classical approaches is a graduated step by step approach that allows students to develop skills and musicianship and fluid literacy such as is found in piano and violin methodology. The Smith Method undertakes this challenge at such a methodology as a means to encourage more and more people to enjoy the beauty and fun of playing music on the guitar.
MUSIC IS GOOD FOR DEVELOPING THE WHOLE PERSON
Playing music involves the whole person fully engaged to produce a pleasing result. A person’s physical coordination is challenged by the technical demands executed by the body as it strives to play the desired musical notes with clarity and precision. The mental capacity of the person is challenged by the necessity of understanding, reading, remembering, interpreting and adding character and finesse to a performance.
The emotional intelligence of a musician is challenged by the breadth and depth of the musical literature that is explored. A person learns to control their emotion in order to handle the stress of playing in front of audiences.
Music is an art that explores the spiritual, the unseen creative depth of the soul which words are inadequate to express. Music leads the person to get in touch with the spiritual side of their nature. Music is social and playing music with others and for an audience helps students connect with other people and experience life as a community. Music offers a fundamental contribution to building community.
PLAY IS KEY TO ENJOYING LIFE AND SPARKING CREATIVITY
In today’s society we have the ability to use technology to play music on demand. It is important to realize that listening to music is not on the same plane for the development of a person as playing music. The artistry and discipline that is required to develop excellence as a performing musician has powerful carry over effects into a person’s life. It would be of great benefit to society if each person had the opportunity to develop their musical talent, to better understand themselves, to open the doors to their creative potential, to learn to enjoy playing and creating music with others and then be inspired to contribute to society at large.