Adult students concerned about remembering
Found in: Adult Students
Stephen R., California
Any advice on working with senior students who are concerned with forgetting things, arrangements in particular, and want to write extra notes in the diagrams? I feel like I’ve been hearing that a lot lately, that because they’re older they need to write extra notes even though I insist that they don’t. I tell them it will create confusion on the diagrams, but some don’t listen. When the age factor gets in the way, is it more claiming territory or a real issue that should be considered? Maybe a little of both?
Katie S., California
I find it’s a territory issue. They need to embrace a new way of learning and trust us.
Rebecca G., Colorado
More than half of my students are adults too. I’ve yet to have one of them not challenge me on the memory stuff, and I never budge on my insistence that they release their “old” ways of thinking, trust me, and go through all the steps I give them to experience success. I’ve yet to have this not work with one of my students, regardless of age, but it doesn’t happen until they agree to stop fighting the process and use the tools I’m giving them.
I demonstrate that what they think of as a bad memory is actually ineffective memory technique (such as attempts at linear memorization or expecting something to just stick in the brain by hearing it once). And the single most effective memory technique in my experience: ES (external speaker, or saying it out loud). I tell my students that they need to be using ES so much during home practice that a stranger walking in on them might think they’re crazy.
Robin Keehn, Washington
I’ve worked with dozens of senior students. Yes, they can really get going on the “I can’t remember” track. So here is what I do. Years ago, I had a conversation with Neil about a student who really insisted she couldn’t remember. He suggested that I do this: I asked her, “Can you remember C?” Her assignment was just to remember C that week. Next week, I gave her one more note to remember. By the third week, when I gave her just one more note, she was like, “Okay, okay! I can remember!”. Seriously, dial it WAYYYY back. Make it very small. Bet their memories will improve.
If someone insists on taking notes without your knowledge and they get busted (it always happens in the funniest ways), you can say, “So, how’s that working for you? You know, we already have a system to remember all this. It’s call NOTATION and I’m happy to refer you to someone who can teach you that way if you prefer”. I say it in my most sincere voice – so far, no takers : )
Joanne D., Australia
I have several older adults and have just one who won’t follow the program the way I teach it. I made a decision a while back not to worry about it. This lady is 74 years old and learned traditionally so knows how to read and she uses the music notation books to help her play. We have had many discussions and I’ve threatened to take the books away but I decided to make an exception for this lady. She absolutely loves Simply Music and loves playing, so even though she will never have all those wonderful SM tools, she has got music as her lifelong companion. I have to stress she is my one exception to the rule. I referred a teen student who did a similar thing to a traditional teacher, and he then turned right around and started doing what he was supposed to.
I have made an exception from time to time as well. Be careful though– it’s easy for an ‘exception’ to quickly become the norm. By exception, I really do mean that it was a mere fraction of the total number times where I stood by the protocol, i.e., 1 or 2 in 100.
Leeanne I., Australia
I have found that lots and lots of repetition in class helps with remembering the variations/arrangements. By that, I mean we will start learning, say, Soaring Dreams. I will show the student and get them to play it. Then we do something else like review what we did last week. Then I get them to play Soaring Dreams again. Then we go on to our next project. Then I get them to play Soaring Dreams again. I do this for the entire class. The majority of the time, the student remembers with only the name of the variation/arrangement to help them.
If the students are not remembering after doing this, dial down the dosage as Robin mentioned.
Francine V., Australia
I encourage my adult students (and kids too) who think they will forget a pattern, to rewrite it their own way…am I doing the wrong thing?
Not necessarily, Francine, particularly if it’s in keeping with our format. Basically, here’s the thing. If ‘their own way’ means writing out every component of every step, then that’s actually transferring the source of the instruction into a written processing format that is left-brain oriented. On the contrary, if ‘their own way’ remains very minimal, more about clues rather than complete instructions, abstract and diagrammatic, then it remains a right-brain experience – and that’s what you need to aim for.