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When you're teaching a subject ...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by StatesideRambler, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. We like to think that we all have common ground of a sort when we're explaining or teaching something in music. For example, if you think an octave is an octave everywhere, this little piece should disabuse you of that idea.

    I was catching up on my Scientific American 60 Second Science podcasts. One episode from September 25th was "Musical Note Perception Can Depend on Culture" which caught my attention. There was more to the piece but the headscratcher is that the Tsimane' people of Bolivia don't perceive two notes an octave apart as being the same note. They also do not find the tritone (augmented fourth interval, e.g. C and F#) unpleasant as most Westerners do, probably because culture embeds a musical structure in our brains; different cultures, different structures.

    What I take from this is that when you're going to teach, you should prepare yourself for communicating with a student who doesn't have the same cultural grounding that you had when you were at his/her stage of learning. The difference is unlikely to be this extreme but it doesn't take awfully much difference to create a barrier between how you teach and how they learn. Food for thought.
    skwee likes this.
  2. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Good point.
  3. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    The example that always comes to mind is the classmate I had in grad school at the conservatory A) who had perfect pitch; and B) whose entire exposure to music was apparently limited to Western European music from ~1600-1890 ...i.e., Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music that was entirely built on the common practice major/minor tonal system. She had never studied (and seemingly never heard) any music from the 20th Century, and so had no familiarity with the structures and organizational principles of post-tonal, pan-tonal, atonal, or serial musics.

    So when a professor mentioned something about pitch collections with identical interval content and Ms. Thing asked for an example that she could relate to, the professor gave as an extremely obvious example a G major triad and a D major triad

    ...to which Ms. Thing responded, almost indignantly, "What could a G major triad possibly have to do with a D major triad? They're completely unalike!"

    Like you say: Different cultural grounding.
    StatesideRambler likes this.
  4. That’s an astute illustration of my point. Thank you.

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