Recently I took my young son to a trial class for a local music program. I was determined to enroll him in the class, but just wanted to investigate it first. I loved the curriculum and he had a great time. In the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the session. During the class, I found myself wishing that the teacher would interact with the children. She gave direction to the parents but didn’t laugh at the antics of the children or smile to share in their enjoyment of the activities. I just didn’t feel like she connected with my child.
Since that class, I have been thinking a lot about my connection to my students and how passionate I feel about it.
I insist that our first priority as teachers should be to value and “like” our students as human beings, regardless of their musical capabilities (or inabilities). I think there is something very special about each child. Our job is to know what it is that makes a student valuable and endearing to us. I stretch this to say, “If you don’t initially like a student, fake it until you do!” I want to be a teacher who enjoys the time with my students at their lessons, simply because they are wonderful people.
Beyond that, I think both parents and students should know that their teacher values and respects them as people. It is easy to convey this to students: giving appropriate and genuine praise, taking an interest in their life outside of piano (even as much as asking them about their day at the beginning of the lesson), smiling and laughing at their jokes, and simply letting them know you are glad to see them each week. It is more difficult to convey this to the parents but no less important. Communicating with the parent following each lesson is
Once an initial rapport and connection has been established, students feel secure
I have always felt successful in connecting with my new students. My recent experience with my son, however, caused me to reevaluate my own teaching.
- Do the students who have been in my studio for many years know that I still like them and value them as human beings? Or do I get so wrapped up in the week-to-week challenges and details of the music that I am overlooking the person?
- Am I always considering that my student’s personal growth is more important than their musical growth?
I can be honest and share that some students frustrate me because they do not listen well enough in their practice and I find myself correcting the same errors each week. When I squelch my frustrations and think about what the student really needs, the musical problems gradually are fixed.
I am committed to showing my students and their parents that I enjoy their lessons and respect and value them as humans first and musicians second. This is why I love teaching, why I need it in my life, and why teaching is so energizing for me.
[h2] How about you? What do you like about your students? [/h2]
Post your responses below!