Here is a little exercise: When you think of each teacher you had as a child, what 3 words describe each teacher…
For example: FUN, GENEROUS, CREATIVE, LOVELY, NICE, EXCITED, SEDATE, SWEET, INTENSE, STRICT…
Was that teacher your favorite one? Which one did you learn the most from?
What are the words you want your students to describe you with?
I am self-admittedly a pretty strict teacher…not because I’m yelling and mean, but because playing music is HARD and requires a lot of concentration and can be very frustrating, especially when your teacher has you do the very hardest part 20 times correctly. In a row!
As someone who used to cry on occasion, I remember what that felt like, but I’m not embarrassed about it at all. I’m probably more proud than anything! I encourage all my students to get their frustrations out, but we don’t stop playing because of it. I even hand out “tear jars” to my violinists for their practice buddy to catch their tears so they don’t fall on the violin. This is not my idea, probably an old violin teacher trick. My first teacher gave me one I still have, although I am happy to report I haven’t used it on myself in a while!
Lessons with a strict teacher are hard work, and I feel like hard work should be rewarded. The smallest reward I give is a sticker. I have a hard work policy, and every lesson that a student tried their best at is rewarded with a sticker for the front of the book, regardless if they passed their assignments for the week.
I have a treasure chest for ALL my students (ages 3-adult) and there is something for everyone. Treasures are earned with stamps. Each completed song or theory assignment receives a stamp. A 3 year old usually gets a treasure at every lesson and after age 5 i ask them to earn 10 stamps for a prize. My treasure chest is filled with candies, gum, small toys, trinkets and novelties. Sugar Free Gum and Mechanical Pencils go over well with older students and Adults.
I always have candies of every type on hand for someone who does cry(even some dye free for those with allergies) and I have a studio contest every year that goes through the school year with a larger prize for the winner. I also give small Birthday and Christmas gifts.
I think MY words are STRICT, CREATIVE and GENEROUS!