We like to call it an asset-based teaching philosophy, meaning we as teachers figure out each student’s unique strengths and nurture those qualities. Every student has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and we like to see our students as individuals. It’s our job as teachers to curate the right combination of repertoire for each person. It should never look the same.
When we meet a new student, the teacher and student have to get to know each other. What is that student interested in outside of music? Are they super excited about the new Star Wars movie? Are they committed to a particular sport or a club at school? What is their music history? Are they brand new to private lessons and interested in playing at the school talent show? Do they want to play songs they hear on the radio, so they can sing along? Or are they getting ready for college auditions? Maybe they are a professional musician already looking to further their skills.
Bottom line? People are different. Not everyone wants to get a music degree, and not everyone is simply pursuing a hobby. It’s our job to ask the right questions and listen. It’s about setting expectations and staying alert to our students changing feelings and motivations toward their instrument. No one can stay focused and motivated if they are being morphed into the musician their teacher wants them to be. No one will focus or be motivated without accountability and achievable goals either. Students need to make their own dream, and we need to help them get there.
Laura Barrett, voice and piano teacher, BSM