Deputising for teaching….
It’s always been the case that a lot of professional musicians regularly teach, work as session musicians as well as perform in string quartets and orchestras – either privately or at schools or music colleges. Due to the sometimes erratic nature of work, it’s not always 100% possible for full time players to meet their teaching commitments, and they will often ask a trusted colleague to step in and cover their lessons whilst they take on performing or recording work that cannot be moved. This is known as ‘deputising’ or ‘depping’ out your teaching!
Occasionally, I stand in as a substitute teacher at the junior department of the Trinity College of Music, down in Greenwich – and I’ve really enjoyed teaching the talented pupils there. Nevertheless, the whole process of standing in for another teachers regular lessons is quite thought provoking – primarily because I don’t want to introduce ideas which contradict the ongoing work already being done by their permanent teacher. On the other hand, I want to be able to offer them something constructive so that the lesson is helpful – although there’s only a limited amount that can be taught in one lesson.
In a way, the simple aim of the deputy teacher is to make sure the pupils go away inspired and perhaps even smiling, having enjoyed the lesson and gained new insights from having the input of a ‘fresh’ teacher. The aim would not be to explore fundamental aspects of technique unless they were to clarify the existing approach of a regular teacher – after all, there would be nothing more confusing for the pupil than to have a completely different set of suggestions and departure from everything they’ve learned so far.
So from the point of view of a regular teacher looking for a reliable deputy, it would be good to find someone who you could call upon each time so that there’s greater consistency for the pupils and most importantly a player who will respect your ongoing work.