Tabuteau’s Use of Analogies in Teaching

T describing how to shape a phrase: “Think of a downward swoop of a seagull: Which then about to land, breaks upward momentarily in the air with its wings, then settles gently.”

“Many times you wish to land on a note like a bird landing on a wire without shaking it.”

“Play like a bird turning on wing.”

“Don’t fly like a duck but glide as an eagle.”

“Don’t be a duck which flaps its wings.”

“Float like an eagle; don’t flap like a duck.”

“A bird sometimes flaps its wings against the wind to fly. Other times it glides.

“Ride like a horse, not a donkey.”

“Music is like a horse or a bronco. It will throw you unless you learn these tricks to keep you riding.”

Wide interval: “Fill up the gap between two notes—like a horse jumping over a hurdle.”

Rhythm: “You should land back on the beat like a cat always lands on its feet when you drop it.”

“A teacher is like a mother bird. Feeds you a few years but should help you learn to teach yourself. Then will give you a peck on the head and tell you to fly away.”

“You must be able to take off and land; these are the most difficult things to do. Some people can fly, but nothing else.”

“Music is like flying; the take-off and landing are the most difficult.”

“Watch a stone skipping across the water and the ripple effect it produces. It bounces each time a little less and then sinks. You scale the line like the stone skims the water; play like that.”

“Like good cigar smoke, the line goes up; bad cigars, the smoke goes down.”

“Now watch; that’s the way to finish a note. When the tone fades away, it goes up—it doesn’t sink.” [T blowing smoke that slowly drifted up]

“Blow at a flame softly & it bends, but it’s more difficult bringing it back up; [you need] more control.”

“Music can be compared to a car: If it is out of gear, the car does not move; it just makes noise,” [perhaps T’s favorite analogy].

“Keep the music in gear like a car.”

“You play but you don’t go anywhere like the car when it’s not in gear.”

“Don’t start the phrase with too much force. As gears in a car, start in low gear.”