Encouraging independent learning in music lessons


Are scales squeezed out and sightreading neglected? Paul Harris shares some ideas on integrating core skills into your students' lessons

I've often wondered why some people are more able than others; indeed why some are more 'musical' than others. As a result of reading a number of books on the mind and talking to those who know much more than I do about such matters, I find that the answer has something to do with neural connections. If you love E.M. Forster's book Howard's End as much as I do, you will remember the words of his preface: only connect. And here we have it. Those who are more successful are those who are making connections. Often they will be doing it unconsciously, but it is the fact that they are doing it that matters. Therefore the solution to more effective teaching would seem to be in finding ways to consciously make the connections for our pupils - connections that the more able will already be making for themselves. It is this kind of teaching I call simultaneous learning. Many imaginative teachers may already practice this kind of teaching, but they might not have thought of it as a method nor perhaps considered how it might be developed.

Spend a few moments considering the content of your lessons. Do you find yourself devoting the greater part of the lesson to pieces (and possibly studies) and then, in those final few minutes, working on scales and ear tests? Maybe if you're lucky enough...

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