Teaching music is all about guiding our students to become independent learners and to be curious about the world of music. Besides the discipline of practicing, other aspects of learning that I frequently emphasize with my students is being open to new ideas they have never heard of or experienced. Cultivating these habits from a young age will ensure that they eventually have the flexibility to process new ideas quickly and experiment with them. The key is not to merely absorb what they are told but to be curious and receptive enough to try something alternative and fresh, and eventually decide for themselves what works best. Nothing more frustrating then seeing students/musicians at masterclasses or taking lessons with other teachers and stubbornly holding on to their own views and playing.
Another aspect of learning music that is crucial to ingrain as a habit is active listening and having a critical listening ear! Listening is the first step of the learning progression of music or any language. Listening widely regardless of genre will help students assimilate different genres, styles, scales and modes with much more ease. Listening while playing is crucial for musicians in their long term musical pursuit; playing chamber music and in orchestras is much more enjoyable if one is listening and engaging instead of simply executing technical ability and performing notes on the page perfectly.
I admit I did not have the opportunity of listening widely when I was younger, at least beyond the realm of classical music. I wasn't exactly interested in music or listening for that matter anyway, but that had definitely limited my abilities later in life when I decided to become a professional musician. That might be one of the reasons why I would love for my students to develop these habits at a young age since I understand how crucial it is for musical learning.
Putting all these together, the Violin Academy is starting off our year with a BANG! Our newly minted 6 month Positive Learning Challenge, following our 3 month Practice Challenge in the final quarter of 2018, will hopefully cultivate these three effective musical habits
1. The Discipline of Practising
2. Positive Learning Attitude
3. An Active and Critical Listening Ear
PS. This idea actually started because I have some whiners in my studio! Probably not so coincidentally, they are all of a certain age group which I have a love-hate relationship with. They are my favourite age group to teach, but they can also make me tear my skull apart. Yeps, you know Singaporeans and complaining? I've learnt this year that apparently It's not limited to adults only! =) That being said, I still love them all, they are great kids, they still end up doing what they need to, but not before some whining and waste of lesson time....... which is not quite teacher approved..... So.. hopefully this challenge will up their game!
Who knows how this challenge is going to go? I'm ready for 2019!