Rants and Ramblings – Allen’s Blog

Opinions are like …………….. noses.  Everybody has one.  This is where I’ll be sounding off on the things I feel to be important and I hope you’ll read and respond as time goes by.

August 6, 2018


As I’m getting fired up to start a new school year, I’m thinking about strategies and philosophies and all of those other “ies” that I’ll be using with my young charges when we get back to work. I’m thinking more and more about the way we teach and, more importantly, the way we wrongly allow students to learn in many cases.

I see too many students learning for the class or learning for the test instead of learning for LIFE and I see too many educators (even myself sometimes) allowing it. We’ve created a culture that focuses on grade point average rather than greatness. In the performing arts (as in many other fields of endeavor), the real “question” becomes whether or not you can do the work anytime, anywhere. Where we fall down in our teaching and learning is remembering that all of this study is cumulative and you have to be able to respond at any moment with the right “answer” no matter how elementary or advanced the technique or concept.

So…….Do you KNOW it (You studied something to the point that you can regurgitate it on a test or in a lesson but not much more.) or do you OWN it (I can wake you up from a dead sleep at 2:00 AM and you can nail it.)? The person who has developed their skills to a level of true excellence has worked diligently towards technique/concept OWNERSHIP and can prove it every time they perform or write or speak.

I’ve become deeply interested in the similarities between training in the performing arts and training in the martial arts (my second passion – I’m obsessed with it). One of my martial arts teachers has this “equation” for skill development.

Technical = Slow = Smooth = Fast = Mastery (over time)

That equation has benefitted me not just in my martial arts study, but musically as well as I continue my journey in both arts. I’m realizing more and more that we don’t place appropriate expectations on our students to consistently use, work with, and show mastery of skills that have been taught in the past that are still important like, maybe, FOREVER. It’s the difference between KNOWING something and OWNING it. Where the “O” sound is in relation to the “N” sound says everything about where you’re at far beyond anything you’ll ever see on a transcript.

I hope as I sally forth this school year, that I focus on creating an environment that creates a culture of OWNERSHIP, not just a bunch of “knowers” who can’t compete in the real marketplace despite having graduated Magna Cum Laude. Remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard and become an OWNER.

Let me know what YOU think. Hope everybody’s swingin’ out there!