• Working with European Teachers – Three ADA Students Tell Their Stories

    by  • November 2, 2012 • Faculty & Staff, Music Program, Uncategorized, Undergraduate Physical Theatre, Undergraduate Programs • 0 Comments

    Having the opportunity to study abroad with European teachers is incredible, especially as a music student. Italy has such a rich musical culture that has greatly influenced countless musicians over the centuries, and it is an honor to follow in so many great footsteps as I study here in Italy. My Italian piano professor Alessandro, even after only three lessons, has especially had a huge impact on my studies here thus far. Before I came here, I realized that there would be a language barrier during our lessons since he doesn’t speak much English, but I didn’t understand how hard that would actually be. When we sat at the piano for our first lesson, he apologized for his English but then said something that really stuck with me: “We will speak through music.” And how true he was. Music really is a language, and I believe that that is something harder to grasp when working with an English-speaking professor. Yes, explaining technical things will be difficult, and yes, he might have to pull a dictionary out once in a while; but one of the beautiful things about music is that it is full of emotion that can connect even two strangers together. When I step back and look past the difficulties of having a language barrier with my Italian professor, I realize that this experience is opening my ears and teaching me to listen more to not only what the music says to me, but also what I say through the music.

    – Deborah York


    I have two excellent European teachers – Alessio, my Italian language teacher, and Alessandro, my piano teacher.  Although they have different teaching styles than I have had in the past, I have really enjoyed my classes with them and feel like I am learning just as well as I have with my American professors if not better.

    There is an art to keeping students focused for two straight hours in a foreign language course and Alessio has mastered it. He uses multiple methods of teaching that make the classroom an interactive and fun environment. In the past I have had language teachers who talk most of the time, leaving only a small fragment of the class for students to struggle over questions about the lecture. Some teachers don’t teach the language at all and speak in English about completely unrelated topics. This makes students uncomfortable with the language because they haven’t had enough practice using it.  Alessio uses activities that encourage us to write, listen, watch, ask questions, and converse with each other. What I like most about his teaching method is that he encourages us to interact with the locals at cafes and shops and to go see concerts and listen to Italian music.  I think this is a very important aspect of teaching because it encourages students to not only learn the language but to understand and appreciate the heart of Italian culture.

    I have only had three lessons with Alessandro so it is difficult to compare his style of teaching to my piano teachers who I have had years to analyze. So far I think Alessandro is a wonderful piano teacher who reminds me a little bit of all my piano teachers.  My past piano teachers have been American, Russian and Canadian. Like my Canadian piano teacher, he is very flexible with time and if a lesson has to be rescheduled he will reschedule it. Similar to my Russian teacher, he is more focused on the musicality of the piece as opposed to technical issues and he does not readily dish out compliments. I like how meticulous he is when it comes to finding the perfect sound when you play even just a single note on the piano. He is also teaching over 200 students – I have never met anyone who teaches piano to that many students!

    Both my Italian teachers are approachable, kind and passionate about their work.  They are encouraging and want their students to do well.

    – Elizabeth Olson


    I only have one European teacher this semester at the ADA, and she is the lovely Silvia, for the Italian 2 class. Working with someone and dealing with a language barrier is obviously a struggle, but it just makes the class that much more authentic. As if we weren’t already living in Tuscany, Italy, in the middle of hills, mountains, and beauty surrounding- we eat authentic Italian meals daily, live in “Italianized” bedrooms and are getting used to the “Italian” way of life. Working with an Italian instructor who, when her students make a Mean Girls joke in class, doesn’t even recognize the movie title when we tell her about it, is a treat. It’s been great to see our differences blend, us trying to get a true Italian sentence out, and her trying to understand our American jokes.

    Classes have been wonderful. Especially Italian due to all of the games and script writing we get to do, in Italian- just like riding the struggle bus. Given the exercise to use our new knowledge and vocab on shopping, we were given the task to come up with dialogue between a customer and a salesperson. Performing it in our “Californians” voice with Ryan and Patrick was a ball!

    – Mogan Voke


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