Hello, my name is Debbie, and I am an educator who lectures in music at a college in Jamaica (not NY or MA, but the little island in the Caribbean). I am the founder of a relatively new music school, The Music Studio, where I teach piano to children and adults. I’m also a graduate student in the University of British Columbia, Canada’s Faculty of Education . I’m studying Educational Technology.
When I’m not teaching, I raise and train white German Shepherds, my other passion. At the moment, I am one of two people in Jamaica breeding these magnificent dogs, but I am hoping that will change soon. Two of my dogs are featured on the banner of this site. You can also click here to visit my kennels.
In my work as a dog trainer, I use operant-based clicker training methods, an effective, safe and humane way to train animals, particularly “bully” breeds such as Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Based upon learning theories espoused by B. F. Skinner, clicker training is fast becoming the training method of choice among trainers of pet and working dogs, and current research in animal behavior adds to its credibility.
Those closest to me say that I’m obsessed with clicker training, and that’s not too far from the truth. It is important to me because I feel clicker training promotes gentleness, patience, understanding, and respect towards animals, and this, by extension, will spill over into other aspects of society. I live in a society where cruelty to animals and children takes place everyday. The link between animal cruelty and violence in society is already well-established. If people can learn that animals, regardless of species or breed, are smart and capable of learning tons of things, then they will respect and protect them, and will extend this treatment to children.
Numerous sites exist which define clicker training, so I won’t go into a definition here, but I will say that this method forces humans to constantly evaluate the instruction they give to the animal, and the animal’s response. Clicker training, for me, provides an alternative to bullying an animal into doing what I want. Animals no longer perform out of fear, but with enthusiasm and energy.
Because clicker training has been so successful with animals, and is firmly based upon science, it has been adopted for use in humans. This method, called TAGteach (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) is being used to teach everything from golf, to gymnastics, to helping people overcome fears and phobias, to yes, music.
I have adopted TAGteach in my music school. I use it to teach young children, and to teach complex skills, like piano pedalling, to more advanced students. It provides an alternative to nagging, threatening, and bullying kids. Skills are broken down into small steps, each one building on the previous, ensuring the student’s success each step of the way. Consequently, learning becomes fun for the children, and rewarding, too.
It is my mission and vision to transform the way Jamaican society treats its children and animals through my use of clicker training and TAGteaching. As the motto of one of my alma maters, Oberlin Conservatory of Music goes, “one person can make a difference.”
In addition to three white and one black-and-tan German Shepherds, my household consists of two Pomeranians, one Rottweiler, and of course, the requisite humans. Click here for pictures of my babies.
I can be reached at clickerqueen06(at)yahoo(dot)com