The way in which flutist Ellen Burr
shapes her musical creativity
remarkably personal in several aspects.
Ellen is available to teach 45 mins and 60 mins private lessons in her Venice flute studio
teaching only two years after beginning private lessons myself. You could say
learning how to teach happened concurrently with learning how to play the flute.
As a teacher I like to ask questions and lead students to the right answers,
rather than just giving answers. I feel it's important for students to figure
things out for themselves through exploration. As a result students come and
go with big smiles because they look forward to what they are going to discover.
I support a dynamic where the teacher and student work together. I honor all
students, because it takes courage to admit there is more to learn. I help
students achieve what they want. This creates a sense of joyfulness rather
than obligation. Students learn that their accomplishments are because of priorities
set, time management and knowing what is important to them. Learning how to
play flute is often a vehicle for developing personal responsibility, planning
a schedule and gaining a sense of control and power in the world. Students
learn to do work to please themselves — not others.
Individual attention is the cornerstone of private lessons. Students will get
out of a private lesson what is essential for them. Lessons are private time
with an adult. Students get to practice being a young adult, and therefore
the bar for achievement is raised higher than in school band or orchestra settings.
The sky is the limit as far as one can grow: students are not confined to the
band repertoire or only hearing how the best person in band plays.
One of the most important lessons I've learned to teach is to always listen.
It may sound simplistic, but so often it is really easy to get caught up in
mixed thoughts of how one should sound or how one is supposed to play; of what
others think or say; of what someone wants to hear at an audition or of what
someone else didn't like. Ultimately it comes down to listening and analyzing
in specific detail. The goal is to get rid of blanket "good" or "bad" statements,
to really hear the playing and then decide what is wanted. By accepting where
they are and where they want to go, a student can change their playing. When
we stop listening, we become frustrated and poor habits come out. The challenge
of teaching is to tune into what students want and what they are ready to incorporate
into their playing.
My best advice to musicians just getting started in the professional world
is to teach. Sometimes being an artist creates dissatisfaction because you
feel like the world doesn't understand or accept you. Private teaching connects
you with society and brings the joy of contribution.