Updated: Apr 18
I cried in my first flute lesson.
It wasn't my teacher's fault at all. She had given me an etude that was just outside my abilities at the time - and, emotional perfectionist that I was (and still am), I became frustrated with myself for not being able to sight-read the music with 100% accuracy...so, as you can imagine, tears followed. She was patient with me however, and I left my first lesson encouraged, despite the rough start.
Now that I am a teacher myself, I have begun to witness firsthand the challenges of teaching beginning students - whether they be frustrated tears, horrendous tone quality, lack of practice, or simply indifference. But despite the challenges, I will always love teaching beginners. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Eagerness to Learn: Beginning students are often fun to teach because they come to their lessons with a sense of curiosity and excitement about learning how to play their instrument. They are typically eager to learn new skills and explore the world of music. In my opinion, watching a kid explore their instrument for the first time is one of the best cures for teacher burn-out that I know of. There's no cynicism or jadedness in first piano lessons.
2. Tangible Progress: For beginners, progress can be more tangible and visible. They may quickly notice improvement in their playing abilities, which can be a motivating factor to continue learning and practicing. One of my piano students who began taking lessons with me just a few months ago is now learning to read from the staff. We love looking back at her old music as a reminder of how far she's come.
3. Creative Potential: Beginning music students have a lot of creative potential, as they are still exploring their own musical interests and developing their personal style. Teachers can help nurture this creativity by encouraging experimentation and offering positive feedback.
4. Foundation Building: As a teacher, working with beginners offers an opportunity to help lay a strong foundation for their musical development. This can be a rewarding experience, as you are helping to shape a student's musical journey from the very beginning.
5. Sense of Fearlessness
Beginning students are also often open to trying new things and experimenting with different styles of music. They are not yet bound by expectations or preconceptions about what it means to be a musician, which can lead to creative and imaginative approaches to learning and playing the instrument. One of my favorite activities to do in my beginning piano students' lessons is an improvised duet on either the white or black keys alone. Watching them experiment and begin to explore with musicality is one of my greatest joys as a teacher.
Beginning students will always hold a special place in my heart because of both the immense potential they have and how they remind me of my own musical journey - as both a flutist and a teacher. As Charlotte Bronte wrote in my favorite novel Jane Eyre: "...It is the meed teachers most covet; praise of their pupil's progress."