Coaching Vs. Organic growth
Remember long ago when you told me to be careful about getting a violin teacher for my son? You were right.
We decided to go ahead and get a teacher because we were worried that he would develop bad habits that would need to be undone later. I don’t know anything about teaching music so I was afraid of doing the wrong thing.
Anyway, here we are several years later. He won’t play piano or violin and he doesn’t even like to listen to music. It breaks my heart.
He just wanted to hold and pretend to play the violin because he loved it. We killed that love by forcing him to do it the “right” way.
I know what some kids are going to do music competition and they need the correct form. We were just hoping that he would develop a lifelong love of music and it seems that we sucked all the joy out of something he used to love dearly.
I wish I would have just let him play with a pretend violin and keep doing Soft Mozart as he wanted. Any suggestions for fixing this?
SP from Iowa (I’ve hidden the name to protect privacy.)'
Dear SP, every teacher have to know that our students' energy is just as important in the work of our attention as finances in supporting our life. The ability to correctly expend, conserve, and accumulate our energy is what drives our attention.
Having 'paid' for the “basic expenses” of overcoming physical problems, attention has an opportunity to direct its remaining energy to solving problems “for the soul.”
The attention's investment into learning increases if its energy is replenished by successful execution of a prior task. It produces a natural, organic motivation to improve in one form of activity or another.
If attention’s further investment in a project leads to frustration, attention will borrow energy from will power. Will power is the opposite of cramming. Will power is a conscious personal effort to direct the energy of attention under conditions of frustration. It is directly connected to the student’s faith in his own abilities.
If the student's attention succeeded to promote his independence, self-esteem, and ability to realistically assess his own strengths, the attention may submit to the will power and will gradually cope with the problem.
Attention does not like inefficient projects. With each failure, the energy of attention decreases until it is completely depleted. Depletion of attention leads to frustration.
Cramming is an aggressive intervention into organic development of the energy of attention in order to achieve short-term results dictated by outside conventions.
Forcing a student to mindlessly copy achievements of another, leveling his own progress, is as detrimental as forced blooming.
Cramming impedes natural development of the student's cognitive musical functions as well as weakens him physically (tense muscles) and emotionally (dependency, lack of confidence in his abilities, apathy, unwillingness to improve, low self-esteem, lack of motivation).
In order to avoid cramming, a teacher must respect the student’s imperfections. It is necessary to understand that the student does not have to fit the mold. It is the teacher’s duty to develop his unique talents in the most optimal way from ground zero.
Little Ella started as 2-year-old toddler at home-school following the Soft Mozart curriculum. Her mom is not a piano teacher. At the beginning Ella was building ability to see elementary music notes, press piano keys long enough, keep her concentration level, use both hands simultaneously and develop her music ear, music memory and love to make music on her own.
In two years she easily switched the music instrument and now is enjoying violin lessons.
Reality is such that for some time the student will not play with a perfect hand, use ideal finger positioning or be able to directly control the touch quality of piano keys. All these skills as well as many others are objectively super-structural and may only become relevant once the energy of attention is freed up from solving physical problems.
Many people don't realize that we have to deal with basic things first: how to find a note, how to shift eye-sight from notation to keys, how hard to press a corresponding key etc are physical challenges that we can't ignore!
There are many physical subtleties in learning to play that been overlooked by music teachers of any instrument. We investigated them, measured with precise numbers and built very gradual way from the very bottom to the top for every student. This is why our system was endorsed by science and never failed any beginner.
Our students sight-read from Grand Staff and go through a lot of music pieces as a result. They first build essential skills and gradually come to understanding of music on a higher level.
The distribution of a student's attention that knows how to read musical text and that of a student’s playing by ear is different in nature and is based on different principles.
The student who has learned to play through reading music moves to super-structural tasks in a gradual manner. He can play a music piece differently every time, trying various artistic expressions and accents. Turning to problems of superstructure, her attention keeps looking for new ways of creating sounds and musical expression.
Performance of the student who practices cramming can stand out from that of the one who reads music. The mechanism of his hands, phrasing, and dynamics seem to be perfect. However, having copied the performance style of the “source," such student focuses his attention towards "not spilling out" the memorized information. Such student always plays the same way. If he forgets a part of a music piece, he may never recover it in his memory. His attention is significantly poorer, and the results turn out to be short-lived. All this wears out the student's attention and his motivation to practice.
Compare a person who reads poetry in his native language to the one who reads it in a language that he does not know. In the latter case, there is only a shell without content. There is no meaning attached. Attention does not like to perform such work, as it considers it to be a meaningless task. Attention has a desire for growth. It is never happy with a status quo.