Teaching is an Art

Teaching is an Art is a course I teach at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

First we discuss texts that deal with this subject. We study articles by great thinkers like Elliot Eisner, Ken Robinson and others. Usually, those texts discuss the similarities between Art and Teaching and try to find what characteristics they have in common. Then, we try to characterize and analyze each element separately, using different materials.

I know that I am not the first one to talk about it and yet I feel that especially in instrumental instruction there is always the conflict between the Art of Teaching and the Science of Crafting

I am no saint in this respect… just watch my DriveADoubleBass videos where I deal with the craft of playing the bass…

In a teachers’ workshop I have once conducted, I asked the participants to fill in the following table what they consider themselves responsible for when teaching a student to play an instrument:

Instrumental Instruction Musical Skills General- Cultural Education Personal and Human Skills

At first they were all mad at me because they felt that I was treating them like college students.

But as they started writing, they became more and more immersed in their task and some of them even dared to express signs of  satisfaction.

The general  consensus was that there was more in teaching an instrument than placing this finger here or moving the bow in that direction.

Here are some of the questions I have been asking for twenty-five years now. I will discuss each one of them separately in the following posts:

How much attention do we pay to the color and the beauty of the tone?

How creative are we? How inventive? How innovative?

How “gamely” is our playing?

What is the story we tell?

Shall we dance ?

This will be one thread I wish to follow. the other two will be:  “The Artist as Agent of Change”,

and “Thoughts about the Repertoire”.

If you would like to read more about those subjects I welcome you to visit my website at


You can also contact me at klinghoffer@jamd.ac.il


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