I have been teaching students for over 20 years and have performed in countless concerts, but I still consider myself a student. I am still learning and growing and challenging myself after all this time. I may no longer have a single teacher and go to lessons every week, but the opportunity for growth is always knocking at my door.
It’s important to realise that no matter how accomplished you are, things can still get tricky at times! That’s why teachers need to constantly think on their feet to help their students progress through a difficult passage or to master a specific technique. Lessons are not just about scales, practising exam pieces or rote learning.
In the same way, different students experience challenges in different ways. A passage that one student may find easy, could be frustratingly difficult for another. So how does a teacher help a student progress?
They find ways to break down the challenge in a way that suits the student’s learning style, energy and concentration levels. The image below shows a quick exercise that I created on the spot to break down the mental barrier for a student in moving past bar 19. They were stuck and becoming increasingly frustrated.
After a few quick rounds of my written out exercise the hard line was suddenly so much easier to navigate.
Another great example of appealing to a child’s personality and learning style is Hugo’s match box car scales. By moving the car from one side of the piano to the other each time a scale is completed, we are inserting some fun into what could be a boring (but essential!) task for a young child. You can watch the video here.
Indeed there are no perfect teachers, and no perfect students. It is when a good combination of teacher and student come together that progress is made. In my experience I find that it’s not necessarily the teachers that have years of experience that progress a student quickly and easily. It’s usually the ones who are adaptable and who can speak the language of the student.
Interestingly I find that it’s also not always about the music! Sometimes it’s about reading how a student is reacting to something, then working with their personality and learning style to overcome whatever challenge they are facing to ensure that they are making progress.
At Inner West Institute of Music we have over 20 teachers who teach more than 10 different instruments. They come from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, qualifications and experience. Some have been teaching with us for years and some are only new to our musical family.
But the two things that they all have in common is their love of teaching music and the ability to be adaptable to any student. No two of our teachers conduct their lessons in exactly the same way. In fact, no teacher conducts their lessons in the exactly the same way to different students!
For Inner West Institute of Music is not about rote learning. It’s about the student and their progress. And that’s all that really matters.
If you’d like to experience a student centred method of teaching, contact us here. We would love to help you experience the joy of music.