Planned determination

piano-fireWhen a student comes for his first lesson, whether he is 8 years old or 88 years old, he is nothing but a big ball of determination. He grabs the drum sticks, or he sits at the piano with a clear gaze and a strong heart. Nothing can come between him and his will to study music. He looks like his life depends on it. That guy is ready to learn! For a music teacher, let me tell you, it is great!

But, here we are, and it is already the second lesson. The dude comes back. And, surprise! he has all his homework ready. In one swift breath, he will show me all the assignments he has conquered and I will see that the past week of practice was very productive. Because, you see, this man is made of iron: when he has set his mind to a certain goal, nothing and nobody can stop him. 

Ok, to the third lesson. Ah! There’s a little change already. The excitation has worn of a bit. Plus, as he explains, his mother came from far away (at least the Fidji Islands) and he had to entertain her, so, there are a few concepts he didn’t have time to attend to. “But, hey, I can still do some parts of the lesson!” And off we go.

Now, the fourth lesson. He sits down.  I can see this is not the same man as the one who came for the first lesson. Shoulders are lower, the back is arched a bit. He send me a sorry look before he tells me that something else has come up to disrupt the flow of his training. Yes, but that’s just for this week. Because, make no mistake about it, he is still absolutely gung-ho about succeeding in his musical adventure.

You’re starting to see the pattern? For this guy, music is slowly becoming a chore. Coming is not the problem, the lessons are fun and interesting, no argument there. But it’s at home that it is becoming increasingly hard.

So, what is happening?

Life! Life is happening, very simply. The student discovers that life will take him away from music. Music is a luxury who has to take a back seat to the job, a visit from Mummy, a birthday to prepare, a weekend with the girlfriend, big events, small ones, life, life life. And Music, all of the sudden, is not as important, because there are no internal mechanisms in his life to sustain the passion of music. Music will have to be done another way, by sheer determination.

So we take a moment to assess the situation. I listen to them, then we have a conversation. The general guidelines are that the student  has to understand that music will have to become part of his daily routine if he wants to keep it in his life. There is no other way. But, as we communicate, we always end up with a solution. People are smart.

And how do we get to a solution, you might ask? Good question! As a teacher, I answer that crucial riddle on a case by case basis, tailored to the needs and wishes of the student, there is no cookie cutter method here because everyone is different.

But, if you want a very generic advice, think about his: when you consider taking music lesson, consider shaping your life around it, even if it is to dedicate a couple of hours of practice per week. Have a plan in your head. A long term plan. It will help your progression and your determination.