This year I am resolving that I will not leave a particular activity or concept before I am sure that it is mastered. I will not drop a piece off the assignment without being certain that the student has gleaned all of the necessary technical and musical elements from it. In short, my New Year’s Resolution is to keep a piece or activity as long as it benefits the student.
Let me explain. I love starting new pieces, polishing repertoire, and introducing new theory concepts. I enjoy getting to know my students and inspiring them to play the piano to their fullest potential. However, I think my biggest teaching challenge is that sometimes I tire of a particular piece or activity, before the student is tired of it.
I forget that what we are studying is new to the student, even though I have heard this particular piece or done this same activity many times before. I forget that the student needs to review material learned earlier, over and over again; and, that it is not boring to them to repeat concepts until they are second-nature. I forget that the student only has a lesson with me once a week, even though I may be doing a particular activity with several students in a given week.
Part of this resolution is that I must make the activity engaging enough that I stay interested in it as long as the student does. This may mean changing the way an activity is presented slightly each week. I am challenging myself to be more creative in the number of different ways I have to present a single concept such as note drills, large pulse, key signature drills, and ear training work. When coaching review repertoire, I will constantly change the practice steps for a particular piece and develop a more imaginatively descriptive vocabulary to get at the musical change I want. Sometimes, I will remind myself to be aware of the point where a student is progressing well with a piece, but really just needs a few more weeks to let it “settle.”
Of course, there are times when a piece may need to be dropped before it is fully completed. I believe I am sensitive to those instances already and am not worried I will “overcompensate.” It is harder for me to continue to review earlier material, even though it is so beneficial. I am excited to embrace this challenge this year.
I am looking forward to challenging myself to become more creative in how I present material. Most important, I am eagerly anticipating guiding my students to have fun and enjoy repetition.