When I ask my student David how things are going, he always replies “Great”. When I ask him how his repertoire is coming along, he says “yeah – pretty good!” When I ask him what song he needs help with he says, “I think they are all fine”. But when I asked him to perform all pieces in the studio from memory the other day – it wasn't great, good or even fine.
Truth Bomb: Most students are poor communicators and they rarely ask for help. Furthermore, some students will go to great lengths and will say/do anything to make you think that everything is A-OK. These brilliant con artists can fool the most seasoned teachers (like me and you).
Reasons for poor communication or resistance to asking for help:
- Student is shy/embarrassed/stubborn/independent
- Student is worried that they may disappoint you (or parents)
- Student is over confident
- Student does not know how to articulate their questions
- Student’s expectations are different from teacher
What teachers can do to help get to the bottom of things:
- Let all students know that making mistakes or asking for help is very important
- Clearly define your expectations in every lesson
- Watch student body language carefully
- Ask specific questions that encourage open conversation rather than one word answers
- Follow up with parents
- Don’t trust them. (I’m not kidding – make them show you not just tell you)
Year end recitals, exams and auditions are just around the corner. Better communication and follow up will help our students be successful in these endeavours and enjoy their lessons more.
Please comment below!