Pacing for a mature beginner


said: Oct 30, 2011
 13 posts

I just started teaching a teenage beginner—yay!

I am a bit mystified about pacing: as a younger beginner in group lessons, I spent a lot of time on games that are irrelevant to this student: she sees immediately what I want her to do, and does it; and then she repeats it until she has got the feeling in her wrist and knows exactly what to practice over the week—and now what? I don’t want to cram too much into a lesson; on the other hand, once she has taken a bus from the other side of town, I feel silly giving her a short lesson.
Today was our second lesson; it didn’t feel as if we had covered that much until I wrote down what she needed to remember while practicing and—my goodness, it was a long list.

What do you do?


Laurel said: Oct 30, 2011
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

Go ahead and give her a long list to do! It will become clear in future lessons if she comes back mastering what you’ve assigned, or if there’s a lot that she’s missing. I find anyone older than about 10 will progress much faster than I expect at the beginning. They are also more able to work on more than one thing at a time; you can have them working on their left-hand position at the same time as they’re learning a new song, for example.

also, don’t forget to ask her for feedback, too—teens can generally articulate if something is causing tension, or if they don’t see the point in an exercise, or something is too easy.

Good luck!

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 30, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

No reason not to spend a portion of the lesson on music theory and sight reading skills—off the instrument at first, and completely separate from the instrumental pieces (at first).

Jeremy Chesman said: Nov 8, 2011
Jeremy Chesman
Suzuki Association Member
Organ, Recorder, Voice, Harp
Springfield, MO
24 posts

Don’t be afraid to skip some pieces and then use a later piece to teach a variety of skills. The slow pace works really well for young ones, but older students catch on to things faster. Also, younger students don’t mind on working on Twinkle for a year, but that won’t typically fly with older students. A lot of techniques can be taught within the pieces. So, identify the skills that you want and then find if those skills are still learned in a piece or two later to see what you can combine.

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