Twins progressing at different rates
Found in: Shared Lessons
Anna J., Canada
I have a class with twin sisters in it. They have been with me for two years now. They are just 7 and are about halfway through Level 2. The growing challenge is that they are moving at increasingly different paces. Something has clicked for one and she’s picking things up easily, while the other really struggles to retain something from one day to the next. Dad suggests this isn’t an issue in other areas, that they’re aware of. I’ve communicated that it’s not about how fast we go, and want to try some ideas for offering supplemental activities to the one while the other processes more slowly.
It’s really challenging for the slower one to not be hard on herself by comparing herself to her sister. This is not the first time I’ve wrestled with this with siblings in a group, but it feels particularly acute here as they are twins and do everything together. Any ideas to help us out?
Pat M., Canada
As a mother of twins myself, I had to make some hard choices like whether I should keep my twins together for an activity or split them up and drive twice, especially if keeping them together meant one was feeling that they were not as good as the other. Is this an option for the parents? Are these twins with other students, or could you give each a 15-minute private lesson?
Maureen K., California
I teach a family with identical twins and their older sister in the same lesson. One will struggle for a while, but then it seems to shift. Unless one or the other seems in persistent severe distress over it, I wouldn’t worry. I just compliment profusely when someone works hard and gets something, and assure them that some things are harder on some days, some things are easier on some days, and person to person it can be different. Have you introduced improvisation, composition, accompaniment, or arrangements? Note recognition games? Duets? Maybe the one who takes longer with Foundation will take to one of the other streams.
Joanne D., Australia
I had a brother and sister start last year. The boy is 5 years older and so much faster at everything. We persisted for 6 months or so with the mum expressing concern at one stage about the difference. I kept the boy going with extras including lots of arrangements but it became necessary to break them into 2 private lessons as the girl was still stressed at the speed we were going. Now they are both getting the right dose and we are all happier. It became quite stressful for me to constantly find other things for this boy to do.
Kerry V., Australia
When I have potential siblings coming, I ask them independently of each other but with the parent and siblings, “So if Tracey was to play a song really well and you just can’t get it, how do you think you’ll feel?” They actually do roll their eyes up in the thinking mode and then say “I’ll be fine with it”. Then I ask “If Tracey was to have problems with a song, what do you think you would do or feel?”. Usually they say they will help or just wait until they get it in practice.
Usually the parent will be in agreement to the child’s response and say “yes, they would help each other”. I then talk about how one sibling may play a song better or worse, but then play another song worse or better, and offer that each asks the other to help out.
This is the best way for me to show the kids what things may be like at home in practice, that it will be okay to play one song well and another not so well, or a sibling to go further in front or behind, but it is all about supporting one another.
I always look for the strengths and work with that. I would have to make a judgment call on whether a twin should be in a different group or stay together, but would always talk about this with the parent first. And I am well aware that although one may be faster than the other, something will come up to show the slower one strength and confidence that picks them up. I have to see if they both really want to be there too.
In conclusion, I would talk to the one going slower, to find out what may be happening and why, then see if we can find a common ground we can work from. Even if it means having 15-minute private lessons each. So work WITH them for strengths, supports, and how they actually get on with each other, and move from there.
If this is not happening in other areas it may be because there are more people in the group that the differences don’t seem to show themselves as much and the one cannot see the inadequacies as much.
Irene S., Canada
I had a situation where siblings were in the same class, and the younger one felt very threatened that he could not learn as fast as his older sister. After talking it over, I decided with the parent to put him in another class. In due time, his confidence was up, and he joined his sister’s class again.
If one is learning a bit more slowly, sometimes you can supplement the other one with Accompaniment, until the slower one catches up with the Foundation or whatever you are working on.