Students needing constant reminders


Eleanor Bennett said: Oct 26, 2014
 Violin, Viola
62 posts

I have a few young students who seem to enjoy driving me and their parent crazy by not having a straight wrist or some other technique, unless we remind them. They are very capable of playing correctly and usually do when performing in a recital, but in the day to day practicing or lessons they won’t do it without the reminder. Any suggestions?

Eleanor Bennett

Sue Hunt said: Oct 27, 2014
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

It’s very easy for some children to let you do all the thinking for them. It’s almost as if we are playing the instrument through them.

It’s never too late to encourage them to notice things for themselves.

I take one small teaching point and, over the course of a week, parents gradually put the children in charge of noticing if they are doing it or not. This requires some parental focus, but it’s worth it!

Stage 1, Parents give reminders. Praise children for any sign of hard work and focus.
Stage 2, Parents give reminders. Children report on what they notice about their own performance. PRAISE focus & hard work.
Stage 3, Parents ask the children what they have to remember. PRAISE focus & hard work
Stage 4, Children do it without remind themselves. Thunderous Applause!

Laura Burgess said: Oct 27, 2014
Laura Burgess
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
34 posts

I like to put them in charge with a checklist like the astronauts have before take off….
Open wrist? Check., etc. it works best if they help create the list. I test for understanding by having them set up their parent to play, and they are amazingly thorough. If there is some backsliding and I am weary of reminding, I turn away and ask them to be all ready when I turn back. It seems to focus them.

Laura Burgess

Heather Figi said: Nov 12, 2014
 96 posts

Another approach:

Speak less or say nothing—some learner drown out words but then use video tape them and show it to them.

Next, ask, don’t tell: “What did you notice about your wrist?”

Keep a one point focus.

And always, find a way to make hard work fun! Props can really help life the spirit with technique (stickers, toys, something silly)

Please let us know how it goes—technical work is nitty gritty for everyone involved.

Lastly, Ed Sprunger’s book ‘Helping Parents Practice’ offer excellent ideas for situations like this and is a great reference for you and the parents.

I agree with Sue—praise the effort. There is incredible research on the power and need for this. You can search for “Growth Mindset”

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