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Understanding the Student's Goals

The goals of a music student are something that are easily looked over and often a source of frustration for teachers. Something to keep in mind is that the music teacher is someone already invested in music. He or she obviously values their instrument enough to not only have kept playing over the years but also to now be teaching others how to play. Even if teaching isn't a dream job, they wouldn't be doing it at all if they thought it was a complete waste of time.

This kind of passion is something that every teacher wants to pass on to their students. The "perfect student" is the one that regularly practices exactly what you told them to practice and is excited to learn more. No muss, no fuss.

But the "perfect student" is few and far between. I think this is where the teacher must take a step back in order to figure out what the student wants to accomplish. Are the parents putting their child through music lessons to score scholarships and create the next Joshua Bell? Or are they just wanting their child to have an activity? Is that adult student fulfilling a lifelong dream? Or are they just doing something to keep their brain active?

There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of these reasons. But you have to acknowledge that the student may be there for different reasons than you are. This really takes a lot of stress out of the lesson. So what if the adult student didn't practice that week? They may not be there to become a fluent violinist in six months or less. They may be there just to get out of the house.

Understanding the goals of a students allows the student to completely enjoy their music experience. In turn, the teacher then knows where to start from in order to slowly push the student toward becoming a better musician.


  1. You're right about this. It really is more enjoyable to teach *and* learn from this angle. I've always felt it's trickier with Suzuki than a traditional method might be. The material in the method is more regimented. Of course, you can always mix up a Suzuki repertoire (put in some fiddling pieces, holiday pieces, etc) but it's back to business if you want to finish the book out.

    1. That's true to a certain extent with Suzuki. But I think even on a broader scale it's just about the attitude you (royal you) have going into the lesson. If you understand that the student is just there as a way to keep their mind active, it's not as frustrating for you as a teacher because you don't waste the emotional effort of trying to threaten/motivate them to practice more. They're not going to quit but they're there just to be there so you can focus on enjoying the time you have together rather than all the future goals.


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