One Student Demoralizing Another
Julie M., CA
I’m hoping someone has come up with a solution to this problem.
I recently had a student leave because there was a student in her group who was able to pick up the songs right away due to her 2-years prior piano experience.
The group was a group of 5 and though everyone else in the group were total beginners, this student felt that the ‘advanced’ student made her feel demoralized. She felt that piano lessons were unpleasant and stressful.
Is there any way I can make the slower learners feel better when they require more attention in class compared to those in the class who are quicker learners? Has anyone come up with a technique or approach to group lessons that can mitigate the stress felt by the slower learners?
Winnie B., Colorado
At the beginning of class when we talk about previous experience, I say “oh good” when I find I have some experienced students. I explain that we all have a richer experience this way, similar to the one room school house in which the younger graders had a chance to be exposed to material they would be learning “officially” later. The experienced folks would be given arrangements, while the beginners listen and watch. Later when it is their turn to learn, they have a little head start. Some are so interested that they are motivated to learn a bit right away. These accompaniments might not even be played in a class of total beginners, until later on! This “one room school house” approach seems to give people a good perspective, and I keep referring to it as we go along.
Victoria S., California
I have found that even in a class of beginners, there is often one who thinks they are not as good as the others. I always address this issue for everyone, because sooner or later everyone has an area that doesn’t come as easily as others did.
I always seek to find out if there was an original time when they remember having a similar experience. Often this triggers what is happening in the present. Just talking about this helps, especially with everyone in the class included in the discussion to reassure that student they are not alone in their feelings and that they are supported by all of us.