A few examples:
Trying to build the relationship between a mother and daughter, so that the daughter doesn't feel invaded when the mother attempts to supervise the practice at home. I HAVE to do this, because if the mother doesn't supervise the practice, then the practice either won't happen or it won't happen in an effective way. Likewise, if the mother simply forces the daughter to practice while being supervised, then it builds a resentment of the overall experience, and suddenly violin becomes like a chore to the student. Then that bad attitude gets carried into lessons. In any case, the only option ends out being to spend 10 minutes, once every 3 lessons or so, acting as a "mediator" between mother and daughter, and telling them both how the other probably feels. The child alone is never the problem. They both contribute by refusing to see how the other feels about the situation. Basically, in this situation, I NEED to be an amateur psychologist first, and a violin teacher second. If I were to simply say "you guys need to see a therapist, because my job isn't to teach you how to have a healthy relationship," then obviously they would LEAVE and the whole process would start over with some other teacher. The end result would never be a student getting better at the violin.
Encouraging adults to keep trying, and to stop having such ridiculous expectations of themselves and their progress. Telling them that this is a long journey, and if you're always hell-bent on the end result, then you won't get there. You have to appreciate each step, and take note of the accumulative effect of the small modifications that we make over time. Then repeating this once every month to keep them encouraged.
Telling both adults and kids that practice is a literal necessity for improvement. Stating this in different ways. Confronting them with the fact that they supposedly want to get better, but have spent the last 2 years practicing 15 minutes, once per week. Telling them that maybe this isn't for them, but still seeing them every week.
Building basic dexterity in the hand of a student, because if I say "move your pinky" and they move their 2nd finger, then their 1st finger, and then their 3rd finger, and finally "find" their 4th finger, then they're going to seriously struggle to play anything. So developing the dexterity WITHOUT the violin in hand is a necessity in this case.
Telling a child that physically assaulting their sibling, and then lying about it, and then screaming at the top of their lungs when confronted about their obvious lie, is a bad thing. Trying to calm a clearly volatile child, and then halfway through my almost-effective explanation, having the mom peak her head around the corner and undermine/interrupt my explanation saying "Focus! or "Keep practicing!" to their child, which then brings back their previous level of volatility. Then having the mom smile at me like she did me a favor, and leaving the room again. Brilliant.
Anyways, I could go on and on with examples of time that I spend "not teaching violin" during lessons, but I'd be curious to hear some other peoples' stories, as well as knowing how much time, on average, you spend doing things that can't directly be called "teaching violin," such as explaining how to change the mindset, how to calm yourself, how to learn, how the parent can help the child, etc... I would personally say that, on average, I spend about 20%-30% of my time doing things that are not directly "teaching violin," but rather prerequisites for effective learning.Tweet
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