Anger has a place in the practice room, too. It must be seen as an emotion that is useful to raise up energy to solve a problem of some kind. The anger you feel when you just can’t get something right, helps you to keep trying – if you use it well. I have a 10 year old student, a sweet, lovely little girl, who consistently denies her emotions. It has taken me years to persuade her to admit that she gets angry – sometimes. Unfortunately, you can hear it when she plays – no oomph. But we are making progress! The other day her mother told me that this little girl was practicing something she just couldn’t get right and seeing her frustration, she told her not to get angry. The child’s response was, “But my teacher said I should get angry so I can solve the problem better!” In fact, she did allow herself to get angry and resolved the difficulty she was facing. She will often make a good sound now, too, but it isn’t consistent – yet. As I have observed, a saintly attitude is not always conducive to good violin playing. (Although lots of saints who were known to lose their tempers, surely for saintly reasons.) Continue reading
Do you ever have students who just can’t get a good, intense sound? I have had many of them. Some don’t like a big sound, others don’t seem to have the energy, still others seem to think they are playing only for themselves. I have noticed that what they all have in common is NOT lack of physical energy or talent, but that they deny their emotions, in particular anger. Why anger? Because they are so young they have probably not known many other strong emotions and because in our society, anger is viewed as a negative, something to be avoided or to be controlled if aroused. Is it possible that there is only a negative aspect to it? There must be some evolutionary advantage to anger, otherwise why would all humans experience it?
Anger is an emotion that summons up the energy needed to solve a problem – or get into trouble, depending on how that energy is used. We teachers can help our students use this emotion to find and direct this energy in order to play better. Continue reading
So you have picked option 2 and decided not to give up on your student. There can be many reasons for this decision, for example:
- It’s against your moral principles to give up on anyone, including yourself.
- You have an economic necessity to keep as many students as you can.
- You are convinced that playing the violin (for example) is the most marvelous thing in the world and you think everyone should play it.
- You firmly believe that music is an essential part of anyone’s education just like the 3 R’s.
Whatever your reason, all of the above are valid and probably have something to do with your decision. It really doesn’t matter WHY you have decided to keep your non-practicing student. What’s important is HOW YOU THINK about it. So how do you keep such a student without going nuts? Continue reading