The Classical Guitar Blog has an interesting post on asking your teacher to tell stories. The concept comes from a business book called Sources of Power. The idea is that
If you ask experts what makes them so good, they are likely to give general answers that do not reveal much. But if you can get them to tell you about tough cases, nonroutine events where their skills made the difference, then you have a pathway into their perspective, into the way they are seeing the world (p. 189).
So how do you apply this to guitar? Chris suggests the following
Ask your teacher what she did the first time she performed. Ask him how he practiced that difficult bit in a piece, even if it’s not a piece you’re working on the lessons in those stories can often be applied to other works. Ask about their early years or playing and what they did to get better during them.
This seems like a great idea to me. Many teachers eventually fall into a rhythm. They are teaching the same things to new students over and over every year. It’s efficient, it’s easy, and it works. But every now and then, you should push them for more so that you get the most for your money. Instead of always asking “how do I”? Challenge your teacher with a “How did you”?
That’s pretty interesting. When I read through that the first thing that popped in my head was ‘if you need to push your teacher to get more for your money, maybe you should find another teacher’. In a way, an experienced teacher stuck in a ‘rhythm’ is less effective than a young teacher who is passionate. When I teach students, doesn’t matter if it’s something I’ve taught a hundred times before, I will make sure I teach it enthusiastically so the student will be motivated to do it.
Just thought I’d share my thoughts on this topic. By all means use this technique whenever possible, but just keep in mind that there are some incredible teachers out there that you don’t need to push along.