Teaching Tips: Sometimes we just have to ask.

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We’ve heard the story over and over again. A Student starts to lose interest in the instrument, stops practicing, starts giving attitude to the teacher, starts fighting back at instruction, and all progress seems to come to a halt.

Immediately as teachers it’s easy to enter into problem solving mode. Can I give different pieces, can I structure lessons differently, what can *I* do different.

But what if often the answer is sitting in front of us the whole time?

There was a young 6 year old student I was working with, who all of a sudden started to put up resistance to a couple pieces we were doing. I took a pause, and I asked “Hey *Students name*, is there a reason you don’t want to do these pieces? What’s upsetting you?”

Student answered: “I want to write music.”

Of course, I thought to myself. We had done some composition before. But we had taken a break. So immediately I shifted the lesson and we started composing together using graphic notation. All of a sudden she was gung-ho about composing as much as possible. All I had to do was listen.

A highschooler, was struggling with practicing, and so mid lesson I asked him “I noticed we’ve hit sort of a road block. Any idea whats preventing you from practicing these tunes?”

He then opened up to me about how he was having trouble motivating himself. How he was struggling with balance with his other activities. We had a long dialogue and I told him how I can relate with my own balance.

The following week, he had the tunes down.

The younger a student is, the more they need assistance with feedback and being present to where they are. As they grow older and their awareness develops, we can spread out and have more of a mutual back and forth. But no matter where a student is in their own development, what can be so crucial to a positive experience is a tone of mutual respect, understanding, and us trying to understand *where they are right now.* Sometimes, all we have to do is ask. Often times, the student has the answer all along.