The topic on this forum about physical contact, and the videos made by the M.U. and N.S.P.C.C. in conjunction with the A.B.R.S.M. have really bothered me. The videos, which evidence a poorly thought-out and badly realised strategy are a mockery of the important issues they attempt to address. I think a much better job could be done.
I plan to write to the AB with words to this effect, and would like to collect constructive criticism about how other teachers on this site feel guidelines could be presented. I imagine, after reading people's comments on the other thread, that you all have lots to say, maybe?
So, on this thread, I request that people explain the way they use physical contact, and why they do so. Also, it is important to address the reasons and situations where sometimes physical contact is not appropriate and the considerations a teacher ought to have regarding this topic. I shall start the ball rolling with the following:
- For many instrumentalists, there is a tendency for tension to be stored in one's shoulders and elbows. A teacher can help the student to become more aware by lightly (and briefly) touching the student's shoulder or arm. There is no need to grab, push, pull or press the body and it is good to remember that a verbal explanation and visual signs (such as the lowering of a hand to signify a lowering of the shoulders) are also useful tools. But, by using light physical touch rather than language whilst a pupil is playing, the region of the brain associated with language can be devoted to decoding the score, the student's listening will not be impeded by extraneous (spoken) sound and therefore the teacher's guidance can be less invasive.
- It is neither necessary or appropriate for a teacher to position his/her face within close proximity of the student's. This can be intimidating and overly-intimate.
N.B. In countries outside the U.K. other conventions and guidelines apply. Also, as obvious as it sounds, teachers employed by schools and other institutions are bound by the rules of their employer.