EP05: Andy Villemez – On shame, character development, and community in music education

The Podcast

Show notes

Andy’s Website: https://www.andyvillemez.com/

Andy’s Opening: “So if I’m rebuilding music education and I really believe that music is good for society, art is good for society, then I’m not just going to teach the skills that are associated with the medium. I’m going to teach implementation of the art with those skills. And that’s where the community part gets really emphasized.”

Standout Quotes by Andy

[On Andy’s first experience of music lessons, a group program called Junior Music Academy] “It was kind of an Americanized Suzuki….it really sparked how fun things could be.”

“I did sports and boy scouts and multiple kinds of music and theatre, and at the end of the day piano was the thing I wasn’t willing to give up.”

[On Andy’s Mom helping develop his persistence.] “Whatever I wanted to invest my time in, she made sure we worked hard at it.”

“I’m down to earth and work hard. Those are the two things I hold very valuable to myself.”

Detail about private teahcers you had following the group set up

[On group music lessons.] “I really loved having a social element to my lessons. If I’d been in private lessons [at the beginning] I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.”

[On Craig Nies] “I call him the person that taught me how to paint. He gave me color and sensitivity to timbre.”

[On Elizabeth Cridnoff] “I say she taught me out how sing. So she taught me how to use the instrument in a way that capitalized on all those color strengths… My personality needed a dose of reality and down to earth. She gave that to me.”

[On the approach of Andy’s high school teacher] “It wasn’t an aversion to failure, it was opening up the possibility of success.”

“There was no shame in the room at all… That gave me a nice defense so I didn’t have some existential crisis because a teacher said that I couldn’t play this piece or because I wasn’t a good musician.”

“I was a small fish in a small sea, so got a lot of attention.”

“It was a rule, an “if then that” equation. If you’re going to do this then you have to work at it.”

“Shame is just horribly unconstructive, to be blunt. It’s the fastest way to get somebody to work harder than they’ve ever worked…To see a student work extremely hard for a crisis that is so deep inside of them.”

“Some teachers believe that what they do—and I don’t mean their service as a teacher, but the content that they’re delivering—that music is the ultimate pursuit… and that anyone who doesn’t replicate it exactly…then their self-worth should go to astronomically low levels.”

“I’m not a psychologist but I do know that true motivation doesn’t come from shaming.”

“But guilt is separate from shame because you don’t immediately inwardly look at yourself at the core. Guilt is about a single moment or a single choice, or lack thereof. If I didn’t practice then I should feel guilty for about a week’s worth of lack of work.”

“You are never invincinble to shame.”

“It’s a high impact form of interaction when you educate someone and it does need to be thoughtful and sensitive at times.”

[On rebuilding music education] “I would love to see a perception or a dialogue change about how that dialogue between content and musician/student could have a third point, which is community.”

“A lot of ideas I have had I have stolen from the boy scouts because they’re not an organization that says ‘our main goal is to produce park rangers’ but that’s what it feels like music studios do: they train us to be performing musicians.”

“You can’t force every student be creative, you can only give them opportunities and coach them through it.”

“Festivals and competitions are amazing and shouldn’t be gotten rid of, but I have started preaching on inclusiveness of ideas rather than exclusiveness in my curriculum planning.”

[On employment opportunities in music] “The best is in two up and coming fields, which are music therapy and anything music related to special education.”

“I don’t see any middle school or high school ensemble directors having any problems finding employment.”
“Private teaching, depending on your geographical area, is usually a very strong option.”

“Where I think that the bad is would be university employment and that’s really because funding for universities, especially in the arts, is going down at public and private institutions.”

[On what Andy’s working on] “From a pedagogical perspective, really working a lot harder, or being harder on myself, about the repertoire that I assign and offer my students.”

“From a teacher’s standpoint, assigning and offering choices of repertoire is one of the single most important things that you can do for private students.”

[On the materialization of the new curriculum] “I am fully in the mode of ‘who else needs to be in on this project now?’ There are skills that I don’t have that I need from another person and I’m ok with playing the long game.”

[On Andy’s pedagogical commissioning project.] “I got a couple of composers willing to do some pro bono composing and launched this application process for any teacher or piano student who wanted a composer to write a piece specifically for them, to have that opportunity.”

“From a composer’s standpoint it’s exciting to have a new problem. The problem is writing interesting music with technical and musical limitations.”

Resources Andy Recommends

The book ‘Clifton Strengthsfinder’ by Gallup http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx

The weekly email tip sheet from Mark Samples http://www.mark-samples.com/

Michael Hyatt’s blog and YouTube channel https://michaelhyatt.com/welcome/

People Andy Mentioned

Craig Nies, Vanderbilt University

Elizabeth Cridnoff

Scott McBride Smith, University of Kansas

Joy Moran, Color In My Piano Blog www.colorinmypiano.com

Justin Rito

Follow Andy

Email Andy through his website or find him on social media
Facebook www.facebook.com/andy.villemez
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/andy-villemez-b8ba4271/