As you glance over at Kyle, you are surprised to see tears brimming over. Where did those come from? He is just so sensitive! Some students seem to take corrective comments in stride, but others melt with the slightest suggestion for improvement. Kyle melts…
There can be multiple reasons for a student to not respond well to correction. Each of these reasons would suggest a different approach for resolution.
- fear of failure
- low self-esteem
- perfectionist attitude
- frustration with themselves
- not meeting their own expectations
- lack of understanding of the problem
- have a hard time trying new things
- feel they are not able to please you
- bad day at school
- hit their emotional limit for the day
- low stress tolerance
- fight with parent or sibling in the car on the way to the lesson
- feel out of control
- not doing music lessons for themselves, but out of coercion
- not used to being corrected
- not used to working hard for something
- do not respect you as a teacher
- loyalty to a previous teacher
Questions you might ask yourself as the teacher:
- Have I properly prepared the student to play this piece?
- Is this piece too challenging for this student’s emotional reserves?
- Does the student know what I am asking for and how to achieve it?
- Does the student have the technical skills to do what I am asking?
- Was I clear in my instructions?
- Have I broken the skill down into small enough pieces?
- Is the tempo too fast?
- Is the fingering wrong?
- Have I already pushed too hard for this session and it’s time to back off?
- Have I given enough positive feedback to balance the negative?
- Is it time for a break or time for a new piece?
- What is my best guess as to what is behind this melt-down? (see list above)
Many times we can slip into a pattern of ‘the student plays and then the teacher makes corrections.’ This can be an uninspired approach if it is not a process of joint discovery and stretching for the next level. There are many creative ways to involve the student mentally and emotionally to get past a road block. One approach is to praise what you honestly can, and then, instead of immediate correction, try one or more of the following: Read more…