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 Master Class with Axel Theimer 
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Over the past few days, I have been fortunate enough to work with a guest music educator by the name of Dr. Axel Theimer. While I did not originally consider these encounters something that could be used for this assignment, I quickly realized that there was much more to these sessions than just music.
Dr. Theimer is originally from Austria. As a member of the Vienna boys choir, he toured the U.S. and ended up coming here for his collegiate studies. Now his primary career is as a professor at St. John's University in Minnesota. However, he is also an author, performer, and guest clinician all over the states.
Thursday evening, he gave a vocal master class in the Hayes School of Music. I went into this expecting to learn a few new techniques for singing but not much else. It ended up being a huge learning experience for me as a future educator. Dr. Theimer is obviously very fluent in English since he teaches at an American University. However, I learned one very key idea. He is perfectly capable of using words to communicate with students; he does not, though, use it as his only means. There were instances where his first "words" to the student who had just performed were actually gestures. Though he had not actually spoken any words, the entire room was aware of what he was communicating. This made me begin to think about how many ways we can communicate with our students. We generally consider the teaching aspect of our classroom the words that we say and the lessons we verbalize. In reality, though, everything we do, physically or verbally, teaches our students something. They will not only learn the basics of things like math and spelling from us. They will take away more broad ideas about our topics and life itself that they perceive through our unspoken teaching.
We often talk about how students will be able to "see through" you if you are not being genuine in the classroom. Dr. Theimer taught me that these same perceptive methods will be used in other ways also. This can be a huge encouragement to a class full of future educators. Just because we can't always find what we feel are the right words for teaching our students, they can still learn through other methods. We have to be expressive with our students; then, when words fail us, they will still understand.

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Leslie Wicker


Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:02 am
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