Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Favorite Student

What makes a good student?  You might be surprised at my answer!  The good news?  YOU could be that student!

1)  Practice - My favorite students practice regularly.  They might not be able to practice for hours a day, but they practice almost daily...even if it is just for 15 minutes!  My favorite students also know the difference between practicing and playing.  Playing is maintaining what you already know, and practicing is learning and sharpening new material.

Not only do they practice regularly, but they actually practice what I ask them to practice and IN THE WAY I ask them to practice.  They might use a metronome, a recording or a loop technique (practicing one small section of a song over and over again).  They memorize their songs, chord progressions, or whatever else the lesson entails...even if it takes a while to get it memorized (like weeks or months for some).

They also prepare written material when asked, even if they aren't sure it is being done correctly. 

2) Playing - My favorite students take the time to go through old material often enough that most of it can still be played, even if it means they need to go through it a few times to "reconnect" with it.

3) Jamming - My favorite students play with others.  This can mean jamming with a DVD, CD, the radio or with other people.  They understand the importance of going on when they make a mistake, and that perfect playing is not always the goal.

4) Questions - My favorite students aren't afraid to ask questions.  In fact, some of them have notebooks that they write questions in so that they can go through them during the lesson.

5) Reliable - My favorite students come to their lessons regularly, but even more importantly, let me know ahead of time when they can't come.  Interestingly enough, there are a few that have difficult work schedules, but they still manage to work with me so that we can make sure they get the most out of the lessons that they are able to attend.

6) Honest - My favorite students tell me what they need!  Maybe I need to slow down, be more encouraging, skip something or do something over again.  Whatever it is, they aren't afraid to let me know so that I can be a better teacher for them!

What may surprise you is that my favorite students are not necessarily my "best" or "most talented" students, though some of them are.  They might not even be in the top 50% of talent.  Many of them don't even have "natural" talent--they have learned talent!  (Or should I say earned talent!)  They bring me lots of joy because they are hard workers and they don't give up.  What more can a teacher ask for?

The best news of all?  YOU can be that student!

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