Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anatomy Week: teaching older kids

I've been talking about how I do lessons and practicing with my 4 year old, but I want to address older kids.  I've only been a mom for 4 years, but I've been doing this teaching gig for much longer, for 2 year olds up to sixty year olds.  I've learned a thing or two along the way....

Years ago, I attended a masterclass with the famed violinist/violist Pinchas Zuckerman.  In addition to his performing and conduction career, he is a avid educator.  The attendees were a mix of parents and teachers, and  Mr. Zuckerman opened up the floor for any questions they might have for him.  One parent stood up and asked - "How do you motivate a teenager to practice?"

After a good laugh, Mr. Zuckerman said: "You can't.  You make them do it, try and survive those years, and at some point they learn to love it and do it on their own."

I've had a few - VERY few students that picked up their instruments of their own free will and couldn't stop playing.  The rest loved playing, but didn't love the work that went into it.  I honestly don't like practicing either!  But I love the end result, so I muddle through.  And as parents, we know how hard it is to teach our kids to work, but we know it's necessary and we do it anyway.

That being said, practice time doesn't have to be an endless drudgery.  The trick is:

 Make them own it.

That's mainly it.  If they are doing it for themselves, they'll be more invested.  Is that easy to do?  Nooooo.  Is it worth it?  Yes!

Having the student research and choose their own repertoire (from an approved list), finding them friends that play that instrument as well to jam with, finding an honor ensemble they want to audition for, even giving them an audio recorder or video camera and having them be in charge of recording their latest solo as a practice assignment - all kids are different and their goals and motivators are different, but whatever that may be, they all need to want it for themselves to be successful.

And honestly, that goes for just about anything in life.  Which is why teaching them an instrument when they're young is such a powerful teaching tool that goes far beyond making music.  Now if ya'll would remind me of this when WonderGirl turns 13, I'd appreciate it :)  Stay tuned for getting toddlers to sing tomorrow!

1 comment:

Interested Parent said...

Do you have any suggestions regarding how to record your students? Can I do this on a computer or do I need to buy something extra special?

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