Student-Centred Music Lessons
One of the approaches that I use when teaching individual music lessons is encouraging them to be led by the needs of the student. Students feel in control of their learning when presented with a limited amount of options to choose between. For instance, instead of going from cover to cover on a method book, I provide opportunities for students to choose between two pieces which would be appropriate for the child to learn at their level of development, considering their skills and knowledge and the requirements of that particular repertoire.
What does this mean?
This approach does not mean that students are given a free-choice. Rather students are presented with a limited amount of options to choose between. I believe that this approach allows the child to feel in control of their learning. It gives them some responsibility and shows that I respect their choices and their ability to choose what they might believe is best for them. Saying this, there are times I may allow a student to have a less-restricted choice for a set part of the lesson. For instance, I may allow them to choose any piece they have already learned to perform at the end of the lesson or any piece they already know to encourage them to focus on the instrument, their technique or the sound they are creating.
Why do I do this?
From my own personal experience and my experiences teaching students privately and in the school sector, I believe that students will learn more effectively when they have intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is more likely to occur when the child has developed an interest in music and what they are learning. Generally, students engage better with learning when they feel valued and respected. When I allow the student to have an element of choice and control in the order of learning or repertoire, I sent the message ‘Hey, this isn’t about me, this is your learning. These are your choices, and I am going to let you choose because I think your opinion matters’
This approach values the student’s interests and allows them to pursue these within the music classroom.
At the end of the day, music lessons are for the student, not for the teacher. Therefore, I am flexible adapting my teaching approaches to those which would suit the skills, interests and developmental stage of the student. Everyone is different and unique so a one-size fits all approach does not work. This is one of the numerous reasons why it is so important to have a music teacher rather than just attempt to do it yourself. While you can learn a lot from online videos, they do not respond to the individual learning needs of the student or offer alternative possibilities that consider the individual student’s interests, skills or motivation.