What I learn when I teach

I taught a workshop yesterday for a theatre full of music students at a college outside of London.

The workshop consisted of me performing tunes, explaining my musical approach, illustrating it with representative examples on the guitar, and fielding questions from both the students and faculty members.

I know that many of them enjoyed my presentation, appreciated it and perhaps gained from it.

But I may have gained more than they did, because as always happens when I teach what I do, I learned.

I walked away knowing more about what I do, why I do it, and how I do it than when I went in.

I walked away feeling grateful for the privilege of imparting my knowledge and experience to young aspiring musicians.

They asked questions about how I write tunes, where I look for inspiration, how I deal with writer’s block, how I make use of music theory in my composing, how much I practice, as well as questions about my experience in the music business.

Answering their questions afforded me the opportunity to step back and look at my whole career, both the artistic part and the practical, business part.

It prompted new insights and understanding.

It made me feel proud of what I have achieved and who I have become both as an artist and as a person.

Perhaps if I taught all the time there would not be the same heady feeling of satisfaction and gratitude, but as a professional touring performer, I don’t get the chance to teach that often.

When I do, it always feels like a gift.

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8 Responses to What I learn when I teach

  1. Alicia Jenks says:

    Greetings Preston,
    One of the best ways to understand your own values and ideals, is to articulate them to another. Expressing your thoughts out loud tends to clarify or solidify what you instinctively know is true.
    I am an elementary school guidance counselor and I work closely with children ages 5-10.
    I can tell the children are learning when I teach something if they can explain the concepts in their own words. When I teach, I believe there is a strong collective knowledge out there and someone will be able to put the thoughts and ideas into words for others to interpret.

    Teaching and learning is am amazing process. When I think more deeply about it , I believe it harkens back to a time of tribes. You are an elder of your very large tribe Preston, a person who has had many experiences, insights and wisdom to share. In a way, you are responsible for bringing that knowledge to those who will come after you. It is some of the best work you can do in this life.Well done Preston! Hope you will continue to teach.
    Best wishes on your continuing journey/
    Alicia

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks for your insights, Alicia. Experiences like this remind me of something I tend not to think about: the benefits your knowledge and experience may hold for others.

  2. Hello Preston,

    Hope you and Cathy are having a wonderful day.

    Words can’t describe the impact your music has, even though you may be very busy to teach regularly, your music is full of lessons. I have been a traditional guitarist, lead player in rock bands for years, and I teach guitar after being a plumber all day. And even after doing this for years I have learned so much. Your rhythmic and melodic ideas not only create an incredible soundscape, it truly opens the mind to new concepts and fulfills that longing to evolve artistically.

    It is wonderful how someone I respect musically and as a person, spends the time to explain and share their experiences, I have never tried to or really cared to communicate with other musicians but when I found your music last October I had to try. and have followed your posts with great interest. It is extremely rewarding to teach, the moments of eureka’s when students discover there own ability’s, is magical. But I am just as thrilled to once again be a student.

    I am very proud at trying my best in covering some of your songs, and I look forward to learning more. I tell people when they ask, what style are you playing there? or how did you learn that song? etc I tell them its the “Preston Reed Style” and that you are one of the few musicians I truly admire who cares enough to correspond, and seems to be a really down to earth guy. I think that is why I feel as though I can connect. I am a blue collar guitarist, a dad and a husband who enjoys sipping on a whiskey once in a while, very domesticated, but I am someone who has never lost the dream, I have always had to put my needs last for the benefit of the family, and I always will, but the kids are growing up and maybe One day I can share my musical voice too….

    I will do my best to be a good ambassador for you here in Canada, Everyone who I introduced your music to is now a great fan of yours. We all can’t wait to get to see you live. Many thanks as always.

    Cheers

    Wayne Janssen

    • fretgenie says:

      Thanks Wayne :^) Feeling lucky to be able reach that roomful of young musicians yesterday, and glad you are getting so much from my music. Hope to see you in Canada sometime!

  3. Michael says:

    Very optimistic approach to teaching music, it makes me want to spend more time learning. Looking forward to your Dublin gig next month Preston!

    • fretgenie says:

      I suppose having the attitude that you are gaining while teaching others optimistic, but I do believe it.
      Looking forward to Dublin myself :^) See you next month.

  4. Duffy Pratt says:

    Back in Minnesota, you were teaching much more and touring less often, but I always had the impression that you had much the same attitude then as you express here. I wouldn’t say that you got more out of our lessons than I did, but you always approached them in that spirit, and its one of the things I valued most about studying with you.

  5. nburke says:

    Just downloaded your latest ….Sounds great Great

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