Randall Ruback  Musician, Educator, Composer, Writer
What is the Artisan to Artist Approach?

Traditional music instruction appropriates as much as 100% of lesson time to the rote learning of notes and the mechanics of playing the instrument with barely a moment spent upon the more Ďartfulí aspects of musical expression, the very heart and soul of what playing music is all about! Some educators may profess the opposite to being the case, yet a random listening in on almost any music lesson, anywhere, will reveal an over reliance upon training the outward effects of playing an instrument, to the near or total exclusion of the inner workings of the heart, soul, the inmost language of the sounds themselves. How this saddening state of affairs has come to be is explained in my Artisan to Artist Becoming the Whole Musician: New Thinking, Better Language workshop. Suffice to say: music is more than the sum of its parts.

With the Artisan to Artist approach, technique and musicianship are not treated in isolation from one another but in a complementary fashion ultimately united into a common whole. In the Artisan to Artist lesson the parts of playing (mechanics, technique, music theory) and the whole (art form) are taught concurrently beginning from day one of instruction, from beginning to advanced. Here, music is taught by the cause/motivation rather than by the effect. For example, in antiquated brass instruction, in order to play high notes, the student is taught that to tighten the corners of the mouth will produce a positive result. Unfortunately the opposite is the case. Students are so tight in the corners of their mouths that they oftentimes experience nothing short of paralysis, struggling just to get the note out of their horns. In the Artisan to Artist Approach, students are taught to conceive the sound in their mindís eye, and further, to manifest the vibration (buzz) on their mouthpiece to produce the tone - just as the mind and body interact in nature to produce any goal through visualizing and perceiving the objective. This is how the neurology of the mind and body operates. Students learn how to conceive sounds, and the body to soon follow the conception. That is the Artisan to Artist way.

Another point: how do we teach the hearing impaired to speak? (And mind you, learning how to speak if one is hearing impaired, is quite an incredible accomplishment!) We teach the hearing impaired to manipulate their lips, mouths, oral cavity, all through muscle feel. Should we similarly teach music through similar manipulations - as though we have no ears to hear? I think not. The Artisan to Artist approach uses the ears, and all of the senses to teach music. It is a total body approach integrating the entire individual. If you, your son or daughter have coordination challenges, the Artisan to Artist Approach will enhance your physical balance, and the integration of your mind and body, all of your faculties - because music is global, and therefore, should be taught globally.

How come nobody else teaches this way?

In reality, schools are beginning to catch on, with classes in mind body awareness at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and new departments in cognition and music at Northwestern University. Iíve been doing research, self-development, and teaching this approach for 25 years now. Acquiring this new thinking, better language, and skill at facilitating and motivating others has been a life-time mission of mine. It has been proven effective by all of my teaching successes, and even more importantly, by the individuals who have come through my studio, and I believe, have left the better for it, happier, and emotionally more stable productive human beings.

What are the added benefits of the Artisan to Artist Approach?

The Artisan to Artist Approach teaches patience, perseverance, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, interpersonal awareness, relaxation. It turns problems into Ďchallengesí; right/wrong thinking into opportunities for growth; blame, and poor self-image, into positive responses of compassion to oneself and others - taking oneself less seriously. The Artisan to Artist Approach opens the mind and heart to new experiences, to our innate curiosity, returning the individual to inner balance. Yes, the Artisan to Artist Approach is healing and therapeutic in many many ways! Here, better life values and learning arise out of the qualities and relationships of the music. Here, music is taught according to its own nature, and not in a compartmentalized and broken down fashion so that the student leaves the studio a mechanic rather than a musician. Here, it is the whole, what the music is all about.

You can read about the inception of this idea by reading my article: From Artisan to Artist published in the 1998 Winter International Trombone Association Journal. This article is about the spark that led to the Artisan to Artist Approach, which is, simply put, teaching music along the natural pathways of the mind and body, with parts thinking used only when it is appropriate and serves the whole. You can also read my Frequently Asked Questions contained in this section, and Autobiography to learn more about me and my approach to teaching. Of course, you are more than welcome to inquire further by phone or e-mail.