Ask the Teacher - Laurence Lesser


The cello teacher explains that his ambition is to make his students think for themselves

What’s your strategy when you take on a new student?

It’s become a joke that in anyone’s first lesson I make the following statement: ‘My ambition is to get rid of you.’ They often look at me in bewilderment and ask, ‘You mean you don’t like me?’ I reply, ‘No, my job is to give you the tools so you can be independent and have a lifetime of learning, so let’s get started.’ When I’m teaching someone, there are two teachers in the room, and one is more important – the student. I’m going to see them an hour a week and they’re on their own for the rest of the time, so they need to know what to do.

How do you achieve this?

My teaching is a combination of giving information and asking key questions that elicit a thought process. I never give a student an annotated copy with my bowings in it – that is treating them like someone in kindergarten: ‘Here, just copy. Do this.’ I’m not interested in that kind of teaching.

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