Adult Students


Very fast learning adult student

QuestionQuestion
Joanne D., Australia

I have a super fast learning adult student. In 4 lessons he’s done Foundation up to and including Ode to Joy; composed a short song, improvised on black notes, learned the C blues scale, done an arrangement of Dreams, learned different rhythms for Jackson Blues, and we have started Accompaniment 1. What would others suggest as I think 30 minutes is too long a lesson for him (or me!). He’s a shift worker and so has varied lesson times each week.

Answer
Maureen K., California

I find 30 minutes isn’t enough to deliver all the projects a fast-moving student needs. I’d keep feeding him as many projects as he can process! Maybe spend part of the lesson having him tell you the clues, like describing the diagrams, talking through the 12-bar blues chart from memory, etc.

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Angela R., Australia

Do some aural training – recognizing intervals, major, minor, diminished, augments, etc. Sing back a melody.

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Leeanne I., Australia

I have a similar adult student. He did hit a wall eventually in Level 2. You really need to make sure he understands the tools he is learning. I would just concentrate on building arrangements onto the songs he has already learned to use up lesson time, and add lots of comp & improv projects.

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Heidi M., Canada

How about spending part of class time getting him to teach or explain to you the song(s) he has learned so you can be sure he really understands it?

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Julia B., Canada

I have noticed that even my speediest students will all of a sudden hit an overload point. I made the mistake of heaping it on trying to keep up to them and provide ‘enough’. They moved along at high speed doing well, and then all of a sudden had brain overload or something and things just started to fall apart. It was harder then to go back and put the playlist back together.

Maybe you could do some duets in class time? Play some of the accompaniment arrangements while he plays the corresponding Foundation piece? I agree about extra time reviewing playing-based strategies, especially if he is still reading music at home on his own.

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Sandy L., Nebraska

If he already has learned some piano traditionally, it might not hurt to reinforce the conversation that with SM he is learning a way of learning. You could incorporate into each lesson a review of a previous SM song, emphasizing the tools used to learn that song, and then continue to point out the tools and strategies in his current projects as you go along. This can be an ongoing thing–just going back sometimes and saying “remember how we learned this one?”.

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Joy O., Alabama

I would say to do 25 minutes for an individual student. And include in the 25 minutes your “How are you feeling about piano?” and playlist check, and a moment of chitchat at the beginning. At the end, take time to write notes. I write notes on the board even for private students and have them copy into the notes section. So it ends up that you are not teaching Foundation songs for a full 25 minutes.