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Being a Piano Player

When I was a young rugby player someone said to me "there are two types of Rugby players: Piano Carriers and Piano Players and you, my son, are a carrier; now let the players' play and the carriers' carry." He was less than subtly telling me that as a forward I should do the heavy lifting and haulage work while those fleeter of foot (and of thought) did the virtuoso stuff. I have always remembered that analogy (and as a back row forward tried to ignore it) but it recently struck me as an apt way of considering my change of direction.

Before I started my further education soiree I was a piano carrier. I was happy doing the work at the coal face: teaching the lessons that I needed to before going outside to shoulder an extra-curricular workload that was worthy of my position as physical education teacher/sports team coach. I didn't baulk at these demands; in fact I embraced them as the most important aspect of my choosen vocation. I loved the role and was happy to carrying the responsibilities of 1st XV coach and join my peers in other schools in this prestige position among coaches.

It wasn't until I began to look at my role as a teacher of physical education through my master's degree that I began to even acknowledge the role of carrier that I had assumed upon graduating as a physical education teacher. I was happy with my role as a doing, and none thinking (apologies to any piano carriers reading this), teacher who did everything he could to maintain the status quo. However, the more I read and began to understand the more I wanted to play a different role. I didn't just want to be the 'fella' who moved the piano about I wanted to tickle the ivories. The problem was that I didn't know anything but the carrier's role I was taught by my teachers (in other words to teach as they had taught). I needed a new way of thinking if I was going to aspire to be a pedagogical virtuoso (or even just a journeyman). Therefore I had to learn. Indeed I would almost argue that I had to learn a new trade from the ground up and that was where my Master's helped to generate a little momentum and my PhD allowed me to really study – not only a new trade but also the ways in which I started to implement the new tricks and 'ways' of teaching I was undertaking.

So in summary. Further education helped me to see the piano as an instrument to be played in many different ways rather than simply as something to be hauled about in the time honoured way. This was a gift that placed me on a long pathway towards become a better teacher.

Comments From The Previous Blog...

On 20 July 2010 09:01 Dylan said...
Interesting read, and congratulations on the book-look forward to reading it and enhancing my knowledge of cooperative learning in PE. Am interested in your thoughts on extra curricular activities. What would an extra curricular programme look like if you were a head of department now?

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