5 Teaching Strategies to Help the Violin Beginner Build Confidence
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO BOOST YOUR STUDENT’S SELF-ESTEEM.
Provide step by step information.
Parents are constantly scaffolding their children's learning by supporting them as they grow, asking questions, modeling for them, and challenging them to be able to do it on their own.
Scaffolding the learning of a beginner violinist is no different. The Suzuki Method is expert at delivering step by step information so that students can have all the necessary support to navigate the new information that’s being delivered their way.
If you're not familiar with the Suzuki Method, you can incorporate one of its basic tenets which really translates into scaffolding the learning to assure that the child is supported along the way with plenty of time to try, repeat, and review.
For a step-by-step system to teach the young violin beginners that are in the pre-Twinkle stage, check out our Puppets for Strings Violin Series. You will find 3 books to help you teach in fun and creative ways.
2. Allow for discovery
Ask, don’t tell.
This follows the principle of "Ask-don't tell" where you guide the student in the discovery of the answers. Of course it's always faster to give the information to the child, but what’s the benefit to that other than to appease the adult's impatience.
When parents are in the room, it's important to warn them not to blurt out the answers. They'll only be denying their child the opportunity to expand their minds, and to really understand a concept.
Give students the necessary time to think so that they can come up with a successful answer. Gently guide them, but let them feel pride as they make their way through the discoveries.
3. Teach music through music
Less talk, more play.
How many of us teachers are guilty of talking way too much during our lessons? Are we constantly explaining by using words that go beyond the child’s vocabulary? Kids don’t really listen to all the details! They get bored hearing explanation after explanation, especially the very young.
Music is to be taught through music. Examples and corrections can be shown through music. Having observed many lessons throughout my musical education I’m always saddened at how many traditional teachers can fall into the trap of talking too much.
This is one of the many reasons why I like the Suzuki Method so much. It inspires teaching through example: a musical –visual and auditory explanation- rather than a verbal one.
Children can imitate what they see and hear, whereas they not always can understand the concepts intellectually, especially when they’re very young. Build their confidence by motivating them to imitate your motions and the sound you produce on the instrument!
4. The student is the teacher
When you can teach it, you know it.
They always say that when you’re able to teach something, it means that you really know it. Trying to explain something to someone else really determines if you understand it or not.
Are your students using their own words, or are they just regurgitating something they’ve memorized? Allowing your students to teach you, or someone else in your class will really show you if that student understands the concepts.
When students realize that they can teach someone they feel pride and their confidence in their abilities grows.
5. Many performances
The more chances, the fuller the bucket.
Students should have as many chances as possible to perform the same piece over and over in front of different audiences.
It was recently that we had a fabulous group of violinists visit us here in South America, the Violin Virtuosi led by Mimi Zweig. The kids had been on the road for a couple of weeks and were exhausted from traveling and performing.
Mimi mentioned to me how many times they had been able to perform these pieces before going on tour, so no matter what, they were very well prepared, even if they hadn’t had much time to rest or practice while on the road.
Given the many opportunities to perform one piece, the body becomes comfortable in front of an audience, and the mind knows that it's capable!
Kids need many performances under their belts. Even if it’s in front of their animal friends!
As a final point, think about how kids change when they become teenagers, when they begin to doubt themselves regarding what they think, how they look, how well they do things… then there’s nothing better than to build a very strong foundation of confidence when they’re much younger.
By giving them endeless opportunities to share their craft, their abilities, and their music playing with others, they’ll have a much fuller bucket of good experiences to hold on to.
Those that have been performing ever since they can remember, have a much easier time standing in front of their class to give a speech, or at a conference in front of their colleagues.
Set them up for success right from the start!
Now tell us, how are you helping your students develop confidence? Is your teaching approach helping them believe in themselves right from the start?
Write in the comments below and share your experiences with us.
We’d love to hear about your ideas!