Maintaining a Positive Studio Atmosphere.

happy faceOne of the things that I think is so important as a music teacher, is to understand the end goal of the majority of our students. Most parents don’t enroll their students in lessons because they think they have the next Mozart on their hands (though you may end up having a few concert pianists in your bunch!) — they enroll them in lessons for the many benefits of learning a musical instrument, not the least of which is a richer and fuller life.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to inspire our students and help foster a love and appreciation for music. In order to do this, it’s vital to create a positive studio atmosphere. While you may have students who dread practicing (don’t we all?!), we want them to look forward to their time in the studio and be proud of what they accomplished.

So how do we create a positive atmosphere in our studios?  Here are some ideas:


1. Provide a cheery studio space. A studio with lots of natural light or painted in light, soft colors helps students not feel claustrophobic during their lesson time. Colorful decorations and charts can be helpful, and keeping things tidy and organized is important for the overall feel of your studio as well.

2. Give students lots of encouragement and praise. This can be a tough one to do when a student has completely butchered a piece and it is obvious that he hasn’t practiced (in which case I like to offer a, “Terrific effort — way to keep plugging away!”). My rule of thumb, before I start working through the challenges of the piece, is to find the things I can tell the student has been working on and/or did well and praise him for it. I want him to know his efforts aren’t unnoticed!

3. Be careful about going overboard with the corrections. Obviously, you want to help your student learn and progress, but when you stop to fix every, single, little mistake, it may leave your student feeling frustrated and deflated. Ask yourself the following questions as you decide which things to work on in a piece: will this concept be reiterated in the next piece, so that we don’t need to dwell on it now? Is the student competent at this piece? Has this piece become such a burden to my student that it is taking the joy out of playing for him?

4. Find music that your student enjoys. This doesn’t mean you should take out the things he doesn’t enjoy, because scales and chords are necessary evils of learning an instrument! But if you have a 6-year-old little girl who loves Disney princesses, it wouldn’t hurt to find a simplified version of “Let it Go” for her to try out. You’ll be her hero.

5. Let your student be in charge of some of his repertoire. You don’t need to give free reign, but playing a few different selections for your student and letting him pick which one he likes best for a recital piece can enhance his excitement about taking on a new challenge.



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