What is a teacher’s task?

A teacher’s task is to accelerate the learning process by guiding the pupil in such a way that the pupil can use knowledge from others faster than by finding out everything by trial and error by himself. To be able to teach, we should know how we learn. Learning is the retention of knowledge in our memory and the ability to recall that knowledge when necessary.

The stages for learning are as follows:

1. Being told something (instructed learning) or by observing something (self learning)

Knowledge is kept in information. The ways to get information are:

• reading

reading depends solely on own experience and the ability to recall feelings associated with the words).

• hearing

the spoken words adds parts of the feelings of the narrator  to the knowledge through expression of intonation, pauses, etc.

• pictures

pictures add another dimension to understanding of the knowledge by giving additional feelings through the picture (a picture says more than a thousand words).

• videos

A video adds additional feelings by giving free subtle non-verbal hints.

It is helpful if the information contains hints about the sensations that we will experience during the execution of the information. For example that the chemical experiment will be accompanied by a specific smell. Such hints let us focus and prepare of what we have to observe and expect. Awareness of possible problems strengthens our security feelings, and leads to a more relaxed and better learning situation. Pay attention to the feelings, they are the only input for your brain. The more feelings that can be conveyed, the more realistic and better the learning effect will be.

2. Experiencing something

The first stage (being told something) is a fast way to get access to knowledge on how to achieve a result, but is not very effective for retention. By just getting told what to do, we do not actively learn. Depending on the content and interest in the matter the sensations and feelings we have might be little. They depend on passed experience.  By following the instructions (or repeating the observation), the learning effect is by doing and experiencing it ourselves and having feelings and sensations during that process. The actual environment in which the process gets executed deepens the feelings. Little children learn by imitating and feeling the effects of their doing on their own body.

3. Interpreting the feedback

By doing something we get some sensations. Not all this feedback may be directly related to the learning goal. In this way we have to filter out what we think is relevant. If this process is not done right, we might learn the wrong thing. An expert in the field can influence the correct interpretation. Because of his long experience he can give us hints on what we have to observe or change to get a better result next time. The time when we need that knowledge and have to recall it. By getting constructive feedback, we will associate our doing further with our knowledge. Sometimes the immediate feedback may not be pleasant, sometimes the feedback may even include fear, because it is something new, unknown. Negative feedback may also lead us to give up early. So it may not be worth for us to retry something, but in some occasions it is well worth the effort. For example to learn to swim, we start probably with a negative feedback: the water is cold. But with the assistance of friends, we will soon gain trust and get familiar with the overcoming of the unpleasant side effect of entering the water. We may even enjoy going swimming during the hot summer season. In this way constructive feedback is essential in the beginning of our learning process. Human beings can plan into the future and estimate the effects of their actions to reach a goal. This goal-oriented approach may involve overcoming some obstacles. The right Feedback is great for guiding us to our goals. There is a difference between an unpleasant feeling and pain. If something hurts, stop practicing and try to relax with easier exercises (e. g. don't rush into icy waters, if your body is not prepared for that). Not listening to pain can be harmful. Never force yourself byond your limits, go slowly with a pace you feel comfortable.

4. Repeating the action

Repeating the action helps us to gain trust in our observations. If we get the same feelings and the same results, the relationship between our action and the outcome gets upholstered. The more we do something and our desired outcome gets confirmed, the less we have to care about the result: The process gets automated. The dangerous thing is, that if we learn something wrong, and nobody tells us, it will get difficult to overcome the wrong habit. Therefore immediate goal-oriented correct feedback is crucial.

5. Understanding the concepts and applying them

The learning process is not finished, when we know that an apple falls to the earth if he is no more kept by the tree. This stage takes time and involves repeated closer observations. You should ask yourself, what is behind the effect. Conclusions do not come very easily, in many cases it is a long trial and error period until a concept is found behind something. For example Isaac Newton discovered the gravitational force and the laws behind them. Understanding a matter involves experimenting: Changing attributes of elements and observe the outcome. Comparing the effects under different circumstances and recognizing relationships. If you have understood the concepts of something you can apply the theory behind the concept to other situations. Some concepts you can take over to other fields. This analogy also helps to network ideas in the memory. This feature is one of the most valuable to help us in unknown situations (you have less to fear, if you can predict and anticipate a probable outcome). If you realize that you can apply an analogy in another situation, the feeling is just great: It is like I have succeeded.

6. Giving knowledge to other people

The last stage is giving knowledge in an easy understandable way to other people. If you have understood a concept, you can explain the field much better to someone who wants to learn something in this field. To cite Albert Einstein: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.“ A simple, yet very lively sentence to illustrate the possibilities and power of nuclear energy. (of course to be called a world war, communication possibilities have to go beyond smoke signals). However, not every scientist is capable of explaining his thoughts in an easy to understand way. Nerveless, for to learn, try to teach what you have learned to someone else. In school you probably had to give some presentation to your class. This way is very effective for the learner, since he has to formulate the content in his own words, as he has understood the topic under discussion. It is not uncommon when assigned such a task, that the students start to think and search about the topic in a much more elaborated way than they would have done only by following the lectures from the teacher. Sometimes the own research leads to a “Click” and the students understand the concept or the idea behind the topic. And if the presentation gets a success, it is again a great sensation.

You don't have to go through all 6 stages above to learn something. If your feelings are strong enough and you are confident with the information in step one, you may omit the other steps. But in some cases many of us had to repeat the experience of burning our hands more than once before we interpreted the feedback correctly.

The bigger the feelings or sensations are, the better the learning effect will be. Therefore a teacher should guide the pupil to the right sensations towards the goal.


What does the above mean for music?

Being told something

Should be done in the most effective way: Seeing and hearing the notes, and have an animated cursor which follows the music.

Experiencing something

Doing something actively. Experiencing it yourself, gives the deepest impression. For experiencing music, you have two organs: the ear and the voice. The voice you can actively control. Most musicians do use humming or singing to tune instruments. They are probably not great singers with a big range or a full resonating voice. But the best way to get the feeling for music is by singing, since singing is accompanied by more emotions than let's say just pressing keys on a keyboard. Therefore, if you want to learn an instrument, start by singing, your natural instrument. Then learn to hear and play chords (several notes simultaneously). And finally go on to composing (note / chord progression).

Interpreting feedback

Feedback is very crucial. Getting immediate feedback prevents you from learning wrong patterns. This is also the interactive part: the feedback giver has to listen to you and should respond to your actions. That means, in the case of software, the program has to analyze your actions. For example the program should be giving you feedback on your pitch, or if doing rhythm exercises, should give you feedback on your timing. Since a program is not human the feedback is neutral, precise and cannot be embarrassing. Feedback to your actions helps you to make progress by correcting mistakes. Actively correcting and doing something ensures the best learning effect. Do not stress your voice or other muscles, let them time to grow and accommodate to the new situation. If something hurts, stop and try to relax.

Repeating the action

Repeating helps to build up confidence. By repeatingly hitting the notes (with confirmation), trust in our performance increases.

Understanding the concepts and applying them<

Music consists of several elements (pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre) and concepts such as musical scales and modes. Chords, melody and chord progression are based on the concept of consonance and dissonance. "In western music, dissonance is the quality of sounds that seems "unstable", and has an aural "need" to "resolve" to a "stable" consonance" (Wikipedia). Being able to experiment with these elements helps to understand the underlying concepts. Here another interactive element is necessary: You must be able to change the speed, or to transpose a melody, or to exchange instruments to experience the effects of the individual elements yourself. Playing with these parameters helps in two ways: First by experimenting you can actively see and hear the results of your action. Second, the ability to slow down a process or to adapt a melody to your voice range, allows for better observation and easier imitating. Applying these concepts leads to the art of composing music.

Giving knowledge to other people

There are many people who have influenced the music styles. These people were giving their understanding of music to other people with passion. If such a music art succeeds, a new music style is born. By starting to interpret music your way and not only trying to mechanically repeat the music of others you are starting to give knowledge to others (People can feel the passion behind your performance).

Interactive means you cannot only watch, listen or read.

It means you have to interact with something, by doing something. You have to let go and not holding back.

For example in singing, your action is to sing. Then the program responds or interacts to your actions by analyzing your voice. For example by giving you feedback on your pitch or beat.

Feedback to your actions helps you to make progress by correcting mistakes. Actively doing something ensures the best learning effect, since direct sensations are embraced.

In this way interactive software is superior compared to DVD (watch), mp3 (listen) or eBook (read) programs.

In addition interactive programs can evaluate your performance for certain criteria and thus give you feedback on your progress. The software can also collect statistical data and give you long-term hints on the tendency of your individual mistakes.



Test your Singing Skills

Download the free trial of listening singing Teacher at www.listening-singing-teacher.com. The program will give you feedback on pitch, rhythm and loudness. See how good you can hit the notes and what level you can reach. Do not worry if you have a low score, try to repeat the exercises, and see if you can make progress and feel more comfortable the next time. Do not give up after just two tries: If you can see that you can make any progress by the various feedbacks you get, you have got something you can work on. Singing on pitch and time, and not shouting during a silent period, are the main issues to sing along with an accompaniment. Just to know that you can control your voice in terms of pitch, will improve your self confidence.

See also www.LearnToSingWithFeedback.com.

For more information visit: A Simple Trick To Improve Your Singing


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