I’ve discovered a hidden talent since I’ve been in Mauritius: cooking. I love planning and executing an unnecessarily complicated repast, perhaps because I find long and meticulous processes to be a bit therapeutic. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized how teaching students to sing is kind of like preparing a meal.
When I begin to plan an extravagant dinner, I first think about my intended audience. Who am I cooking for and what are their needs? While variety is important if I hope to keep everyone’s gustatory senses engaged, I must also operate within certain restrictions. Are there any severe allergies of which I should be aware? Does anyone ascribe to a vegetarian, pescetarian, or meat-atarian diet? Does anyone have an irrational loathing of coconut-crusted puddings?
Once I have figured out what lineup will be most palatable for the largest number of palates (I’ve taken more than a few pages out of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism), I have to set about actually creating the evening meal. That often involves buying ingredients that are not already in the house, marinating meat for a few hours or even overnight, and chopping up the perfect mix of vegetables and spices in an effort to get it just right.
Like planning the evening meal, preparing a comprehensive lesson plan requires a lot of forethought and flexibility. I first think about my intended audience—to whom will I be teaching music? While I don’t want to teach incredibly difficult vocal arrangements to students who may be experiencing musical education for the first time, I also don’t want to bore them with material that is below their ability. I also want to make sure that I’m teaching music that is engaging and interesting, and that can be easily related to any previous experience with music my students may have.
After the planning comes the execution. More on that next time.