It’s All In The Details!
While working with private students, I make the effort to notice subtle details about their
personalities. I discovered one such detail yesterday with a student I’ve been working with for
about a year. While this student has made above average progress over time, her over all ability
to complete songs has slowed down. I’ve noticed her ability to subdivide rhythms since the
addition of eighth notes has been severely affected. This is even noticeable in common tunes
known by children as nursery rhymes, or folks songs. During last nights lesson I recognized
once again that she benefited from not only clapping rhythms, but having me sing and play them
at the same time for her. When I had her play something after much practice, I also continued
tapping my foot while singing the subdivisions for her.
Solve Problems In Music – How Far Will You Go?
This may seem like a great length to go to for an 11-year-old, but it worked. I noticed her aural skills increase while playing eighth note rhythms correctly. After having seeing some improvement in her song, I went on to ask her a couple of questions that teachers likely forget to consider:
teacher – “Do you find yourself as someone who prefers to be organized and have things
in there place?”
student – “Yes.”
teacher – “Do you find it hard to get organized, or to figure out the steps to being more
organized in your daily life?”
student – “Yes.”
So what did I learn from this experience?
What we tend to forget as teachers, is that young students are still learning how to
develop good cognitive skills. They are still learning to think for themselves and most often lack
the skills for good criticism like we were taught to have as we completed our educations. While
we as adults are still learning about our own personalities, we should not ignore that our
students have their own to figure out.
Developing Long Term Success
We should not only coach out students to be organized
thinkers, but learn that we may have details to learn and develop on our own. While this is a
complicated way to say that this particular student needs to use a metronome while practicing
everyday, it also helps her to understand a way to improve her playing and increase the speed
at which she learns new material. We most often lose students when they reach this limit, and
must find a way to help them combat the frustration caused by a slowed rate of learning. We
most often call these slowed rates of learning “plateaus” as a way to cope with the stress
involved. Our younger students don’t yet know how to cope with stress, so we must more than
any time, find ourselves holding their hand more to reduced stress and anxiety levels. A good
teacher will go to any extent necessary to help a student through a touch patch. Developing
long term relationships with young people is the key to developing a long term and successful
career in education.
Article by Bradley Peppers – Piano, Voice, and Trombone Teacher In Atlanta, GA