By Jay Maurice
One of the biggest benefits of children taking private music lessons is giving them the ability to deal with obstacles and overcoming disappointment using both emotional and practical teaching practices. To be a good private music student you don’t have to be the top in your class because there is no class. What you learn is self confidence, because you will be reinforced based on who you are. Also, music, unlike math, science, social studies or English doesn’t rely on the “correct answer” to determine success. Most private music students know the answers of how to play a piece of music they are working on, but knowing those answers doesn’t equal an A or success. Music lessons essentially teach children that answer is only a small part of what it takes to succeed. They have to work on understanding the “application” to be able to make notes and rhythms sound like a song.
One on One – I often tell people that I wasn’t an achiever in school. I didn’t get to do the special things or have recognition because I wasn’t a successful student. I watched as others around me had that recognition and I knew I was a step back. That all changed though when I started taking music lessons at age 15. It was the one-on-one attention that did it. As I recall, my private piano teacher was the first teacher who told me I did something well. As I look back on it now, I really don’t know if I’m a musician because I am good at music or if I love music because someone told me I did a good job. That’s the power of one-on-one private music teaching.
When a teacher has only one person to teach, she has everything to give. Patience, understanding, and of course some fun and laughing are the keys to making a music student succeed and be confident in what they know. It’s repeated day in every weekly lesson. There are no other classmates to change the outcome and both success and failure are learned with the teacher. Music isn’t played perfectly most times, but students are taught to still feel positive, when applied to other aspects of life like school and work, young people overcome disappointment. It’s not all feel good stuff either, this is where positive teaching tools and strategies come into play.
Tools and Strategies
One strategy all good music teachers use is breaking a piece of music into small sections. Positive reinforcement plays a big part. We see the disappointment on our students’ faces, but then when we break it down to a small part and show them, “Look, you did it. Great job!” We see that look change. Disappointment goes away, and we replace it with a sense of accomplishment and a path for success. Students especially light up when they realize that all they have to do is put together more “small sections.” I’ll always remember a really discouraged student named Cecilia, who was working on a recital piece and told me she was never going to get it done it time. We took a four measure section of her recital piece and worked on it for the whole lesson. At the end of the lesson I asked her if she felt good about it and it was a big YES! Then I asked her how many four measure sections the piece had, the answer put a smile on her face when she told me the answer, “five.”
Because music lessons happen outside of school, the pressures of success and disappointment are hidden from the lesson. The attitude of students, however, are not. We find that students who have dealt with disappointment do bring it into the lesson. Those are the most fun to teach, though, because the rewards resonate so loudly. In teacher meetings at Lessons In Your Home, we always have a saying, “It’s easy to teach kids who are easy, we become good teachers by working with ones who feel challenged.” Because all people innately like some kind of music, it’s an easy fix. Work hard to find a fun piece of music and learn it. Then, no matter how hard it was to get it done, feed into the positive.
Jay Maurice is with Lessons In Your Home:
http://twitter.com/LessonsNurHome and can be reached at 770-330-5913