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Pupils anxious in lessons? (Read 1323 times)

Offline keyquest

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Pupils anxious in lessons?
« on: February 04, 2017, 10:23:32 AM »
Here’s an article with advice for teachers about how to deal with anxious pupils, especially adult learners:

Offline keypeg

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Re: Pupils anxious in lessons?
«Reply #1 on: February 04, 2017, 08:07:07 PM »
There are some good points, but some essential things have been left out which cannot be taken for granted: 1. Teach skills.  2. Teach practice approach.  You would be surprised at how often one or both of these things are missing, and especially so when it's an adult taking lessons for the first time.  When you don't have the skill to do what you're supposed to be doing, and haven't been given a path of getting there, how can there be confidence?  "Approach" is related.

In your example of the Minuet, the trio had "not yet" been learnt securely.  Therefore the approach was to learn the first part of the music first, the 2nd part second, so that ability gets incrementally weaker just as you are also getting more tired.  Why not work on the hardest part first, and the last part first?  That way, as you progress, you get into ever more familiar, ever more secure territory?  (To teachers in general) Are practice approaches being taught?  Chunking.  Sections.  How to divide up time on a given day, and during the week. ---- If the whole piece hasn't been practised yet, why(have the student) play the whole piece in the lesson?

Two things mentioned in the parallel thread on the student side: Consider that you are working on skills, not that you are performing for the teacher - A parent wrote of a child who comes stating "I worked on this, and I need help with this." and at the close of a session the teacher asks "What do you think you need to work on next?"  To me, this puts the focus squarely on skills rather than performing for a teacher, both in the lesson and at home.  I think that this will do a great deal to reduce anxiety.

Looking at the article: proposed solutions:
* "Don't be surprised.. by anxiety in lessons"(1)  Acceptance that it's normal and moving on from that - good suggestion.
* warming up (2, 3, 4) - Yes to having a chance to warm up; you're coming in from fighting traffic jams and whatnot; a warmup is logical.  But I would not want that to go on for too long.  I want to play what I practised all week while it's fresh in my mind, and while I'm relatively fresh.  Playing old pieces would throw me for a loop.
* "criticism" (5) - If it's about how good or expressive the playing is - meh.  Tell me specifics; and as a student I want those specifics because those are my tools.  Am I tensing my hand into a "chord shape" mid-air, making everything difficult?  What could I do instead at home?  Is the music off because I lose counting, so I know I should work on this? (Rather than a vague "It doesn't flow right.  Listen to how nicely I make it flow.")  (In your article: "If it is too general then it will be difficult to use as a springboard for progress..." YES!!
* "home recording" (6) absolutely!  But not necessarily "When you can play this perfectly." which can lead to a different kind of anxiety, and hours and hours of trying to record the perfect performance instead of real practising.  But the idea of recording at home greatly reduces the frustration of not being able to ever let the teacher hear one's best, and this also reduces the anxiety of trying to have your teacher hear that best in that too brief time in lessons.

PRIVATE TIME FOR WARM UP - the 15 minutes gap between lessons --- superb!!!

A comment here:
Suppose we are practising privately at home.  We may be coasting in fourth gear, absorbed in the music, enjoying our playing, and making solid progress.
The quibble I have about this passage, is that this isn't "practising" as I know it.  It can be a rewarding thing to do after practising, watching it come together.   But I'd want to be practising during the week.  Spend a well focused 15 minutes on moving smoothly down that octave for those tricky two chords.  By the time the lesson comes around, that octave and other things are nailed.  At least as important, it gives me a point of focus.  If by acquired habit I'm focusing on that octave, I am not focusing on how much you'll like my playing, and whether I can put myself into a 4th gear zen state for that imagined wonderful passage.

This is something I learned after four years of studying another instrument with a teacher, and I wish I had learned it from day one rather than after that many years.  A lot of time was spent reassuring me, attending to how I felt - make no bones that this was also very important - but the skills part, and how to practice part, would have created a lot of confidence.  What do you think?