Monthly Archives: December 2014

Patience Traps, Part 3: Students, part d

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The one secret weapon we teachers have in our continual struggle to get our students to practice is the parents.  Parents must be encouraged to attend their children’s music lessons and also supervise their practicing. Here is an example I often use: you go to the doctor with an ailment. The doctor gives you a prescription but it is useless if you don’t take the medicine and take care of yourself. Just as you cure yourself of an illness by following the doctor’s orders, all students must learn to teach themselves. They see their teachers for a Continue reading

26 December 2014

Patience Traps, Part 3, Students, part c

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I am happy when I have practiced … I have done my duty” *

One important thing I have learned over the years is that if a student profoundly does not want to do something, there is not a force on earth that can make him do it. So you, the teacher, have to find some way to work around this. The most effective strategy is to help the student change his attitude about the task at hand.

For example, I have a student who has great difficulty practicing pieces and studies she does not like. There are many people like this in the world. They cannot bring themselves to do Continue reading

15 December 2014

Patience Traps, Part 3, Students, part b

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“Show me a child who would like to practice instead of going to play with his friends, especially at the age of six!” *

How to get a student to practice. I wish I had an easy answer for that. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki said that practice should be fun and I agree with him in principle. The problem is that we live in a modern world with working mothers and children who have many activities. There just isn’t the time to catch that golden moment when everyone is in the mood. I have never had a family where practice was always this wonderful moment for everyone to enjoy together. Not even my own family. We must also remember that Suzuki developed his method in Japan for Japanese mothers and children. I have had Japanese students and they are marvelous. Such discipline! And that’s the point. Apparently Japanese children are so disciplined that Suzuki was trying to get their mothers to lighten up a bit. Most of us live in the west and deal with mothers and children who are culturally very different.

My first point is: forget about practice being fun all the time. Sometimes it is and often it is not. We must TELL THE TRUTH. If students think they should always enjoy Continue reading

8 December 2014