That’s a picture of my flute right there. Notice anything unusual? Yes, the headjoint is pretty smeary, I hadn’t wiped it down yet. And the lighting isn’t the best, it’s been foggy all morning. Oh! That white thing snapped onto that bar? What’s that?
That’s my real life scaffolding.
Technically it’s called a c# extension and it’s an expensive piece of molded plastic that snaps onto my flute’s main rod. It allows my left index finger to be less cramped and painful, and I play faster and more cleanly. Not many people use these, or even need them. Most flutists play just fine with the keys set up the way they are, no problem. Others, because of injury or arthritis, have extensive modifications made to their instruments. I fall somewhere in the middle. In grad school my teacher and I experimented with different setups for me, various modifications that would eliminate and prevent hand pain while allowing me to strive for excellence. For awhile there I had all sorts of things clipped and velcroed onto my flute, but now I’m pretty much just down to the c# extension (and only because I’m still searching for a right hand thumb squooshy; Dr. Scholl’s quit manufacturing my perfect solution). Over the years the temporary modifications I’ve tried (including taping my pinkies into curves for several months as an undergrad to break the terrible habit of playing with locked and double-jointed pinkies) eventually fell away, leaving the one remaining that I still need and may need indefinitely. I’m good with that.
Does my c# extension make me better than others? No, not by a long shot. There are still plenty of flutists out there much better than I, that’s for sure. Does it give me an unfair advantage? Nope, it just allows me to play without pain and helps prevent injury to me. Shouldn’t I remove it now, since I’ve improved so much? While I could play without it, and play well, I’d be straining my left hand and index finger well past pain and into injury territory; just because I’ve improved with the assistance doesn’t mean I no longer need it.
So where am I going with this?
Scaffolding is simply assistance. Removed IF deemed no longer necessary by the person using it, kept if needed, given freely and without judgment. It’s not an advantage, it’s not cheating, it’s not unfair.
It would behoove the education system to remember this.