Friday, January 24, 2014

"We teach what we have to learn ourselves"

Driving to the river on Sunday morning to head out for a winter paddle, I was listening to the radio. The Sunday Edition was airing an article about a singing coach, Tom Schilling. Schilling was interviewed and among the things he said was a line that stuck with me:
"We teach what we have to learn ourselves."
I like that. It reflects some of the reasons I teach people to paddle. One of the benefits of becoming a paddling instructor is that it has made me a better paddler, to better understand the skills so that I can better teach them to my students. It also reflects that we are always learning, that a good teacher is always working to improve both their teaching and the skillset they are sharing.

Mr. Schilling also said a few other things that struck a chord and are relevant to a paddling instructor. He teaches people to use their voice as an instrument. I rely heavily on my voice to teach and even though few would describe it as musical, it is one of my teaching instruments. He described how a good singer must learn to get big sounds without forcing it, without power. He related the analogy of the tiny locust that creates a sound heard for miles. I know this is one of my challenges - after a day of instructing in the outdoors, especially with some wind, my voice is tired. I've spoken to my good friend Mike about this in the past. Mike is a school teacher and involved in theatre. He described some techniques for learning to project my voice, but I have yet to get the hang of them (more specifically, to put in the required practice).

So, perhaps to become a better kayak instructor, I really need to sign up for some singing lessons!