I just had an adult come to a FIS, who already plays very well by notes and also by ear. What he plays by ear is absolutely lovely and full of expression, and he has a lot of background from playing fiddle and he knows a lot of chords. Yet he said he is interested in lessons because he feels he needs structured lessons, possibly for filling in some gaps. He likes the playing-based approach used in the Ode to Joy demo.
I know I can certainly teach him the playing-based approaches and to be able to think of music in that way for melody and accompaniment, etc, so that even his note reading later on will be easier and that learning these tools can help him get better at teaching himself songs.This was in a nutshell what I told him though I am also afraid his skills may surpass mine quite soon. I am barely starting the F4 teacher training. I am not desperate for more students as there are others inquiring, and I especially enjoy the ones with little or no background in music. I also feel the need to spend more time on advancing my training too. Yet he is so enthusiastic about learning so I would love to take the right approach to helping him how I can.
I took on a student last year that has great playing skills. She comes from a very musical family and her grandmother has been teaching her to play. Her improvising and composing skills are fantastic. She can also watch me play something once and then play it. I had just finished Level 4 when she started. The grandmother brought this student to me as she had taught her everything she could and it was time for her to learn more. Both the student and the grandmother were attracted by a playing-based approach to learning music.
I was very clear at the FIS that they had to start at the beginning, but were likely to move quickly through the program (she is taking private lessons). This student has been with me for a year now and is at the end of Level 2 and I am at the end of Level 5. She is not terribly excited by what we have learned so far. but she can see the big picture. She had no prior experience in playing blues, or accompaniment, so she is enjoying this part of the program.
I did panic a bit when I took on this student, but I have just treated her the same as all my other students. I always figure if a student gets to the stage where I can’t teach them anymore, I will pass them on to another teacher. But this hasn’t happened yet. I am still well ahead of my most advanced student.
I can see where clear communication from the start is essential, about the big picture and having to start at the beginning.
I have to confess I felt a bit intimidated when I saw that he knows even more of Fur Elise than I do, but he doesn’t understand the playing-based approach and does it all by ear. He does feel limited by that and recognizes that.
I am honest with my most advanced student, a teenage boy. I told him he is the first student I have taught Level 4 to, so I will have to refer to my notes occasionally and he is fine with that. I make sure I review the TTM before his class, and so far it’s going okay.
I took on one of those as well. It’s been great 🙂
When I first started teaching, I had a very advanced student like the one you are describing. She was a WAY better player than me and I was just starting. What she did was move ME very quickly through the program! It was exciting and fun (sometimes I was still learning the piece when she walked in for her lesson). Even though I couldn’t always even demonstrate the piece well enough, the beauty of SM was that even though I couldn’t play it, I could teach it. She was delighted and continued to learn with me until Level 10.
I think whatever you learn about learning, about teaching, about teaching a musically well-equipped student and the push they put on you to keep moving is worth it for every lesson you have them for!