Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Celebrating a Breakthrough!

Teaching can be a frustrating business. Sometimes it seems that no matter what we do as teachers, a student reaches a point where they give up. I've had my share of experiences like that over the years, but I've also experienced some real successes with students, and I try to dwell on those positive experiences more than the negative.

I have a student who has been taking for about 2 years. When she first started lessons she was super enthusiastic and practiced with diligence every week. She was a fast learner and ate up her music.

Then something happened last fall. We really started having problems. She started hating practice, was having trouble remembering even the most basic music concepts, and was considering quitting piano. Thankfully, her mom was not willing to let her give up so easily, so we came up with a plan that I implemented this spring.

We scaled WAY back in lesson material, moving back to My First Piano Adventures to re-learn notes and review interval reading. I was a little worried that this would not go over well, but it's been a fabulous decision! The student LOVES the book and the songs, and her mom is playing along with her each week using the duet parts. I've seen a dramatic increase in her reading skills.

To help keep things interesting, we're also working on several pieces that are a bit more at her level so that she feels like she's working on something besides just the basics. But every week I try to apply what we're working on in the MFPA to the other pieces, and she's making the connections.

The biggest surprise was yesterday when she showed up for her lesson with 5 days of practice and over 100 minutes logged for the week! That hasn't happened in probably about a year- we'd gotten to the point where getting her to practice was like pulling teeth. But this new approach has made all the difference in the world. She has started enjoying practice again and looks forward to her lessons.

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough like this, where a student is just about ready to give up but you're able to develop a plan that helps them re-discover their love for music? It takes a little bit of extra effort, but it's SO worth it when you see their passion for music rekindled!


  1. I recommend the book "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle - available as a pdf online - for learning some secrets to how learning takes place. Found this from Busy B's blog yesterday. I've been devouring the book --- found I'd been doing some of the skills. So have you!
    Help students turn on the light to learning all kinds of skills!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion- I'll be sure to check this out! :)

  2. What a fantastic turn around! I truly believe that God gives us teachers wisdom for situations such as these. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Nicole :) There are MANY times when I feel like a complete fool as a teacher, but there are rare moments when I do something and it WORKS!! Those are the times to celebrate!