Monday, July 7, 2014

On teaching workshops

It's about two weeks before the World Taiko Gathering and I've been organizing and planning out my workshop on rhythm.

Even when I've taught the same workshop several times, I'm always trying to improve on it.  I rely highly on the feedback I get once the workshop's over, but I also look at what people like in other workshops (that aren't mine), as well as what I like in workshops that I've taken.

I'm not going to list all the factors I might take into consideration; that's a long post that only a few people would care about.  

I've seen workshops that are taught as created, with no deviation, and either you get/enjoy it or not.  I've seen workshops that are totally dependent on what the people/group want, and adaptable to a point where there's little direction.  And I can't say either extreme is bad, because with the right teacher or material, people can enjoy them a lot.

In a way, it's easier to teach on either extreme.  It's a lot of work to create a framework and allow for flexibility while also responding to people's needs (which you won't find out about until you're doing it).  Even though it's difficult, most workshops try to do that. 

There tend to be people that are struggling as you progress, as well as those who are having way too easy of a time and getting disinterested.  How do you engage everyone equally?

There's also consideration for how much equipment I want - it would be great to have one drum per participant, but if I'm one of dozens of teachers, I don't want to be greedy.  It makes me have to think about what drills I'm doing, because some are difficult to do with 2-3 people on a single drum.

Finally, I've found having a buffer time at the end is really valuable.  Leaving time for people to ask questions, address things that weren't covered, or go back to difficult drills is often appreciated.  However, it's always good to have something planned in case there *aren't* any questions!  Better to have too much stuff and know what to take off than not enough and artificially extend things.

This isn't a post asking you to be kind to your workshop leaders - although it's appreciated, haha.  These are just some thoughts and insights about what can go into planning and teaching a workshop.  I personally find the balancing act of it all a lot of fun and the satisfaction of seeing people "get it" is only matched by meeting people years later who tell me things I've taught still prove useful!

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