Riding the Bus

A funny thing happens when my students go back to school: they become more focused and dedicated musicians. Am I the only one who has noticed this?

Of course, that’s not to say my students are not focused and dedicated during the summer. But even I can admit that it’s easy to slack off a little bit in those three months, when life is just a little slower-paced and there are vacations and fun outdoor activities calling my name. There’s a definite transformation that takes place at the end of August, and I’m lovin’ it.

The link between school and improved performance at lessons is easy to understand. First of all, my students are back into a regular, structured routine. Practice time must now be built into their schedule, since they also have homework and extracurricular activities to squeeze in. I’m a lucky teacher in that most of my students’ parents are great about making sure practice is included in those tight schedules.

Secondly, the discipline my students learn at school is carried over to their lessons. They know that there are rewards (both intrinsic and extrinsic) for completing their schoolwork and performing to the best of their abilities in the classroom; they start to seek that same level of achievement musically, as well.

Third, I think there is also a little bit of peer competition at play (and I’m not complaining). Many of my students are classmates at school and know that they share the same piano or voice teacher. Now that they see each other on a regular basis, I know that they compare notes on which pieces they are practicing, how far along they are in their methods books, which Greyson Chance song they are singing, etc. I always stress to my students that everyone progresses at their own pace, but an extra boost of motivation is not a bad thing.

I know that most kids are under a lot of pressure when it comes to school and other activities, which is why I do all that I can to make music lessons an enjoyable experience. The fact that being back in school gives them that extra focus and dedication they need to continue increasing their skill level? Well that just makes my job even better, if that is even possible.