Awesome Music Lessons | Don’t Over Correct

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Hi, thank you for joining the Curtis’ Music Academy podcast, and I’m going to be talking today about don’t overcorrect as a teacher when teaching awesome music lessons. So this is something I am learning as well. So in order to expound on this idea, I remember when I was 10 years old, was playing softball for the first time as a part of a team. Now, I struggled with learning softball. And actually during that same season, my mom took me into the back yard to learn how to throw and catch, you know, using a softball. And we even stood just literally one foot apart and we would just toss it back and forth. And so I wasn’t just a natural basically, is what I’m trying to say. And I remember during that season, my coaches would be telling me how to bat and they would say they would watch me bat and then they would say, good. 

But this time, put your foot this way, this time swing this way. This time look with your eyes towards this direction and this time turn at the same time. And so I remember thinking, OK, that’s a lot all at once. But all right. And so my theory is sometimes you’re a well-meaning instructor, but you’re accidentally overcorrecting and it might overwhelm the student. And I have run into this and I have done this myself as well. Normally the way it works is I assign a student two or three items to practice for the week and they come in the next week with those items and they’ve worked on them and they play them for me. And then I might correct a couple of different things during the awesome music lesson.

And then we assign new stuff for the following week. But I have noticed if they’ve played the song and there’s three things to correct. I have really worked on not to be like, OK, great job, but this was wrong, this was wrong and this was wrong. And so even as they’re playing the song, I’m strategizing in my mind. What’s the number one thing I would like to communicate about this song? Because I think it’s kind of discouraging when a student is playing a song and they finish it during the awesome music lesson. And then while here’s the five things you did wrong in the song. So I have kind of gotten away from doing that. And instead I pick the one thing that I say, OK, but did you know that this rhythm pattern for this line is actually like this? 

And I demonstrate it and then they might they might realize, oh, OK, I see what I did. And so it’s just a little bit different. So basically, I don’t major on the miners now. Obviously, if it was a student who’s wanting to go on and play in a competition or something like that, we would be much more detailed. But I’m talking about the average student, whether it’s a child or other adults, I don’t want them to feel discouraged all the time because of the five things they did wrong in the song. And it’s kind of something that I’m realizing, too, is that sometimes the smaller things correct themselves. 

And so if they go through a song and they literally played one note wrong, like, let’s say it’s on the bass clef and they played an F instead of an A. If it’s just a minor mistake like that, I might just go on because I’m confident in my teaching that they will be really strong in recognizing notes. So if it’s something like that, I might not even say anything. And I’ve gotten a lot of positive results from that as well during the awesome music lesson. Or if it’s something like maybe one mistake, like you should have held this for another beat, but you didn’t. Now, obviously, if they play a whole line incorrectly, I want to focus on that and correct them. And that’s another thing, too. 

Like you can’t just not correct students at all, because then they’re going to be playing incorrectly and they’ll never know because you’re supposed to be the teacher. You’re supposed to, like, lead them into into how to play properly during the awesome music lesson. So it is kind of a balance. And so for some students, I might do it a certain way. For other students, I might do it a different way. It kind of depends on personality as well. But I have noticed this is actually seems to be going really well. And everything I’m doing is just being really patient as they’re playing and not correcting them verbally. Because what I have noticed is oftentimes they corrected themselves. And so sometimes as teachers, as soon as we hear a wrong that we’re like, OK, that is wrong. 

It should be enough. And of course, it’s never negative, but it’s kind of that idea. Like as soon as you hear it. Oh, no, you have to correct it. But I’m realizing they actually corrected themselves when they have a little bit of time, especially kids, because kids will pause and think about it and then correct it themselves. So I really like that as well, because if a student can correct a mistake themselves, to me that is much more powerful than a teacher correcting it during an awesome music lesson. For them, that just means they’re a little bit more autonomous in their playing, which is great. So I am actually teaching during quarantine and everything. And so right now where we live, we actually are able to have students in our studio live and in person. 

But we have many students who are still preferring to stay home and to just do awesome music lessons online, which is totally fine. However, it’s a little bit more of a challenge online, just the flow of the lesson. And I’ve noticed students getting frustrated easily over Zumar, over face time. And I think because it’s a little bit of an added. Stresser being online rather than being in person, in person, it’s a lot of fun and it’s just flows nicely, but online it’s a little bit more of a stressor. I don’t say it’s stressful because it’s not. But I feel like it’s it’s not as just relax for as being in person. So I’ve noticed a couple of my students are getting frustrated with certain things and I do contribute part of that to just being in online awesome music lessons. 

And you have to take that into account. It’s different and you can’t really just operate the same way as you would in a normal awesome music lesson. So when that happens, I have learned actually just a week ago, I think we were in our team meetings and I was kind of talking about this very topic. And one suggestion was instead of correcting this student and he gets frustrated instead, don’t correct him at the end of the song. But just say, I really like how you played the song correctly in this one area. Can you do it a second time? And so that kind of flips the script. Instead of getting defensive or upset, the student realize, oh yeah, I am supposed to play skips here and not steps. 

And that’s the thing is like congratulating him on getting it correctly and then pointing out what should be played. So I could say something like, I am so glad that you played skips on line two instead of steps. Can you play that line again? And so that gives him like a really easy opportunity to get it right by playing the skips, because I just told him in a roundabout way that it was the skip. So I thought that was like a really fun idea. And so anyway, I went into awesome music lessons this week and it worked really well and we had a really fun lesson. And so I am learning that. And I also applied the other principal as well, which is to just pause and don’t be so quick to be like, OK, that note was incorrect, can you play it again? And so those are things you just learn as a teacher. 

And so there’s grace for that. But I have learned that with the students, it just seems to flow better. And that’s the thing. It’s like if they’re continuously taking weekly awesome music lessons, they’re going to become stronger and stronger and things like playing the right notes, recognizing the right rhythms. We work on that a lot throughout the weeks, whether they’re in person or online. 

And so just trusting that even though they might make a mistake in a song, they’re going to be strong at reading those notes because of all the emphasis we put on it through the games and through the activities as well. So in some ways, it’s trusting the process during your awesome music lessons. In some ways it’s just being a little bit more patient with timing and everything. And I think it has a lot of really good results. So to all piano teachers out there, don’t overreact. Correct. And be patience with your students and with yourselves as well. So thank you for listening. Have a wonderful day.