NO CHORDS BARRED #5 – Fear of Freedom

I need a project. I have been practicing the basics and learning theory (more than I thought) for almost 2 months now and I feel like it’s time to start applying that to a more holistic guitar education experience, namely I’d like to learn to play a simple song. I still want to go in the direction my teacher is taking me but I’d like to work on something that puts it all together.

I’m a big fan of project-based learning. It is student driven and personal.  I give lots of choice and encourage students to think about their interests and goals in both the topic they choose and how they want to present their learning. In my Science class I’m trying to create an environment as close to an emergent curriculum as I can within the confines of the learning outcomes and available resources. This necessarily means I step back and put the student in the driver’s seat. It’s freedom. Freedom to explore, freedom to create, freedom to connect.  Unfortunately, the reality is that often students act like the animal that stays in its cage after the zookeeper has forgotten to close the door. It frustrates me and I want to say, “Run!”

That’s why my own reaction to the thought of a “guitar project” is so surprising to me. After realizing that practicing a real song is what I need to do, my first inclination was to ask my teacher to pick one for me. I started making excuses to myself as to why it would be better for him to pick it; “He can judge my abilities better than I can and therefore pick a song of appropriate skill level”, “I don’t know what I don’t know”, “There are probably ‘good’ songs to begin with”, etc, etc… I’m sure these are all good points but they start to look like the bars on my own zoo cage. The door is open, the bars don’t matter. It’s just a stupid song but my fears and insecurities are keeping me from taking control of my own learning. I don’t want to be judged for my choice or musical taste. I don’t want to have an awkward conversation about why it’s not a good song and I don’t want to find out in a month that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. These thoughts seduce me into preferring the comforts of my pen.

When I go to my lesson on Tuesday I’m going to present this idea to my teacher. Maybe I’m not ready and I will respect his judgement and expertise. If this is something we can agree on then it is up to me to choose. I will want my teacher’s feedback but I need to lead. In my own classroom I need to be more mindful of the bars my students see when I present them with their freedom.


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