When I teach privately, there is a great deal of work that goes into making sure that the lessons I am giving are really just right for that particular student. I can usually read a student like the “back of my hand” once he/she sits down in front of me, and regardless of how good they make think they are, I can always spot the weaknesses. It’s important to get them properly grounded in the fundamentals, but at the same time, we must be careful to watch and listen for the particular “clues” they give us that can help unlock the doors we need to open for them as learners.
Everyone learns at their own pace, and it’s important not to rush the process, especially if they’re not the quickest learners. I mean I have had the full gamut from players who could never play a G chord, even after months of trying, to players who can’t learn fast enough from me! The latter kind are the ones who make my teaching fun, but also very rewarding, since it’s such a “bang-bang” kind of interplay between us!
There are other students who are very set in their ways, and who rarely can accelerate their learning process. It’s these people who I must be most patient with, because my tendency is to rush a bit, and to assume that a student may be “getting it” at least as fast as when I was first learning. Problem is, not everyone really had that kind of ear, but they can be encouraged to improve their ear, and to slowly learn to recognize tones, pitches and note relationships. Just be patient with them, and be able to recognize when there are moments of revelation for them, because these are the moments when you can really help the student to get over some critical hurdles.
Again, if you teach, you must always try to aim the lesson towards that student’s particular needs. It’s very helpful certainly, when a student actually has a very specific request of what they’d like to learn from me…I can always then take that request and turn it into a real lesson, that shows them “why” they are into that particular sound, song, riff or whatever it might be. This is an extremely important moment for both student and teacher, for it’s where you truly meet on common ground. Still, you may feel that his or her request may be a little too “left field” compared to what they really need to learn, but you can still make the lesson work for them, and give true meaning to what they may want to learn, regardless of how superficial it may seem.
So, always be sure to take a student’s requests to heart, but at the same time “tune in” as closely as you can to what can really help them to become better players. The combination of those elements can truly make for the perfect lesson, as well as the ideal student/teacher rapport. Good luck in your continued teaching and learning!