Learning Through Teaching

Photo by Brittany Soucy. Used by Creative Commons License.

We started another session of Musical Theatre Master Class at Hedgerow! So exciting. I love teaching this class! (PS- there’s still room, enroll now!)

I also love that this class focuses on the skills that go into performance, rather than the performance itself. So often, in art and life, the emphasis is on the end product. The process and the means are seen as necessary drudgery to get to the destination. For me, the process is half the fun. Yes, it can be tedious. But it is also where we learn about ourselves, our other players, our art.

As performers, we so often get caught up in the next audition, the next show, that we miss the learning opportunities. Classes and workshops are not just to prepare for the next gig. They are worthwhile in their own right- as we learn about our craft, our own skills and preference, and the world and people around us. Live in the moment of learning, rather than praying that it gets you to your next goal.

For me, teaching helps me learn. Helps me refine my own process. I especially enjoy teaching children. They require a clarity and intention that it is easy to gloss over in all my “experience”. Taking the time to distill and define can be refreshing.

Poet Mark Van Doren wrote, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” And I’ve found that in my classes. Children ask great questions. They haven’t learned to censor their imagination. Their innocence and creativity challenge me regularly.

I’d probably wither up and die if I never got to be onstage again. But I know teaching is my favorite thing to do. And, I think, my real gift. Watching students develop- in skills, in confidence, as people- is really an awesome privilege.

My friend Rhonda, at Art and Soul Acting, wrote on this a few weeks ago. We teach because we love the art of theatre. We teach because we want others to share that love. We teach to create artists and art appreciators of the highest level, and that includes ourselves.  

And that’s the key. I may not be rich and famous. But I absolutely LOVE going to performances- dance, theatre, opera, orchestra, live art that defies genre. I love witnessing the art and creativity of others.

I may never have a student who becomes a rich and famous performer. But I know, without a doubt, that each of my students has learned about theatre and dance. They’ve learned history, technique and creation. They are arts consumers, art appreciators. The future of our industry lies in them.