It’s an interesting irony that in the process of teaching a student how to expand their mind with music a teacher can, in fact, become close-minded. A teacher is expected to have the answers. But in order to be this authority figure, the teacher must be firm in why they teach things a certain way. “This is what you should do and this is why you do it.”
This firmness of opinion is not necessarily a bad thing. Students need that sense of structure to help them move forward. When working with young children, the parents need the reassurance from the teacher that they are making the right decisions.
By constantly being an authority it is easy to forget that you may not actually have all the answers. Equally important is a willingness to listen and change. You may know how to teach the violin but the parent may know their child better than you.
In order for learning to take place there has to be a meeting in the middle ground somewhere. The job of the teacher is not to superimpose their knowledge onto someone else. True learning is a give and take experience.
Playing a musical instrument is an all-encompassing activity that can become therapeutic for people just by its very nature. It forces the student to take time to examine himself or herself in a way that our culture does not normally require. Oftentimes the difference between a beautiful sound and squeaks on the violin is just taking a moment to ensure that your bow is on the right part of the instrument. The student may know where the bow goes; it’s that taking a moment to both physically and mentally check that must be trained.
With so many things going on in our lives (jobs, families, social activities, extra activities, etc.), private music lessons are a good way to press the “reset button.” In a world where instant knowledge is widespread, learning a slow, difficult task will make you revisit your concept of time.
Much of a student’s success with an instrument will depend on whether they allow themselves the time to learn. Starting something new is exciting but eventually this excitement ends and the real work sets in. As I teach, I see this same sense of frustration in four-year-old students and seventy-four-year-old students.
Young students will not understand why they do not get to play the violin instantly and adult students will berate themselves by saying, “Oh, I started too late so of course I’ll never be any good.” To both of them I say, “Well, you’ve only been playing for six months; what did you expect?”
At this point it is important to examine your musical journey as a whole. Perhaps you did play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” worse this week in your lesson than you did at your last lesson. But were you even playing “Twinkle” one year ago?
Even the most accomplished of musicians had, at some point, to be at the same stage you are on right now. One does not go from never playing an instrument to being highly proficient without first allowing oneself the time to learn.
More entries: May 2012
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