There’s a sense of happiness and joy when a music teacher turns to the next page in the lesson book and says “ok, you’re ready to start a new song”.
However, if that action also means no longer playing or working on a student’s favorite piece, we’re in trouble. The biggest mistake we make as music teachers is putting the proverbial “check mark” on our music student’s favorite piece after it’s been completed. Just the word “completed” makes me cringe when I think about music lessons.
It’s Taking Forever For This Student To Play This
Piano teachers, violin teachers, and guitar teachers alike have either said these words to a colleague, or at least to ourselves: “It’s taking my student too long to learn this piece in his lessons.”
We know why. It’s because there’s an issue with the student’s technique, their understanding of what’s trying to be expressed, or more likely, they just haven’t worked on it enough. We can’t just move on from it, because then every time they encounter a piece of music they don’t understand, they’ll just give up.
But then again, maybe not! Continuing to work on a piece of music week after week that the student shows no interest in will surely have some of the following effects:
1. Music lessons will lose focus and purpose
2. Music students will become disinterested
3. Music students will actually hurt their technique by not engaging properly
4. Music students will learn by our actions as instructors that we’re not interested in their interest
These are just some of the effects of one of the biggest mistakes we can make as music teachers.
When your student reaches that “check mark or sticker” time on a piece of music they really love, here are a few things you can do to never let the enthusiasm go:
1. Have them play the song without using music; aka, “Memorize It!”
2. Have them learn to play the music in a different key; aka, “Transpose It!”
3. Have your music lesson student arrange the form differently than written.
4. Have the student record a video of the song to share on YouTube.
5. Have the student play the piece in a different mood or character.
These are just a few of the ways to keep a piece of music alive, and if you think about it, you’ll find a bunch more ideas you can add to your student’s favorite songs. If, for some reason, you’re questioning the validity of playing songs that you’ve already “checked off”, just consider their role differently in music lessons….. The “go-to pieces a musician plays” is called repertoire.