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Showing posts from October, 2013


Something that comes up a lot in private music lessons is the idea of fairness.  The topic takes many forms.  Sometimes it's a student to student problem when siblings or close friends are both taking lessons.  Sometimes it's a student to teacher problem when the student has been stuck on something for a long time.  And times it's a parent to teacher problem when the parent has different goals from the teacher.

Fairness is not about giving each student the same.  It's about giving each child what they need.

As a teacher, it would not be fair for me to treat each student exactly the same.  That would completely defeat the purpose of private instruction.  Some students have to work on left hand finger skills for a long time because they need to.  Some students achieve left hand finger skills more easily but have to spend a longer time learning how to control their bow.

Learning an instrument is not the same as going to school.  There's no timetable.  Memorizing facts…

Finding Your Musical Voice

The concept of finding your musical voice has recently "clicked" with me.  I've heard the term countless times over the course of my musical career but the meaning never fully registered with me.  I always thought of it like it was some sort of artsy saying.  Like you have to soul-search so you can communicate your artistic interpretation of a piece.

I never had an artistic interpretation of any piece.  I'm not that type of person.  I enjoy playing music, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out a piece, I love the bond I feel when I play with other people... but interpretation?  Not so much.

Through a fortuitous combination of events (teacher training, parent meeting and what students are currently working on) I began to really think about this musical voice thing.  It suddenly dawned on me that the thing I was missing about the saying was what the word "voice" meant.  I was so fixated on the ideal of "musical" that I ignored "voice."


Finding Balance Between Easy and Hard

An important job for both a parent and teacher is to provide a student with an appropriate level of stress.  A good example of this outside of the music lesson is the first day of school.  A child has to attend school.  It's going to be unfamiliar and there's no way to totally prepare them for every little thing that might happen.  Therefore, it's stressful.  But not all stress is bad stress.

Successful people are those that deal well with failure.  This is not the same thing as setting a child up to fail.  But it does mean presenting a child with challenges.  A good teacher should not give the student all the answers.  Rather, a good teacher should teach a student how to find the answer.  All the building blocks should be in place and then it's up to the student to figure out how to piece them together.
The main difference between challenging and hard is the student is prepared for the former and not prepared for the later.  A task that is challenging will not necessa…