I will give a few brief responses, but this is probably better suited to a conversation with your teacher/mentor/friend—hopefully one in the same.
Do you believe that a student's family, educational, and emotional experiences must be considered when thinking about how they play musically?
I am sure the influences are very strong, but there must be a tremendous variation. So much relies on the focus and passion to achieve of the individual student.
There are so very many exceptions to the rule, that there is no rule.
We are all unique.
Have you ever had students cry in lessons but understand that their tears are not because of anything specific that happened in the lesson, rather the lesson is a form of emotional release for other stress in their lives?
Yes. Some have even warned me:-)
At times, it is due to frustration in the lesson where the student is really focusing to achieve the intended goal, and, other times, there is that very real frustration with things not going as well as they were practiced. We have all been there, but usually fail to remember how many times in a row we played the passage/section before liking it, AND the very different level and focus during the practice as opposed to the "performance" for the teacher.
Generally, the student focuses too much on themselves instead of the goal at hand—playing the music the way we hear it and with the right tools (our technique).
This last point is the most missed by students. Commonly, the student neglects proper and thorough preparation in practice because they "never missed that shift" while practicing—rarely true:-)—but, all shifts, string crossings, etc., are to be thoroughly trained and developed.
The student has the extremely difficult challenge of mastering the instrument and the music. When mastery of technique is present then all becomes 95% easier to achieve, as one has the tools. The technique/tools are used to shape, mold and bring out the character and style of the given repertoire.
Do you think there is such a direct link between how we "are" in the world and how we play?
Yes, but sometimes it is not perhaps how we are, but how we want to be…
Does the lesson need to be a safe space, musically and personally, in order for students to be okay with the vulnerability that is required?
Yes. Sometimes more then others.
There is a time of very kind and careful nurturing the student needs for many reasons, some of which were brought up in the above questions.
Additionally, there is that time when the student needs to be demanded of so they personalize, take ownership of, their responsibility to the goal and task at hand. They must require achievement of themselves throughout their studies and beyond—we never stop learning.
This June I will have taught 40 years—I started in the womb;-)—I am still learning a great deal.
Every student, every piece of music, every situation requires and contributes to our learning and development. That is what makes it so fantastic to continue doing—though sometime a wee bit frustratin'. ;-)
How does trust factor into it all?
Hope this helps.
Take care and God bless,
More entries: November 2009
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