I'm feeling reflective today! Here are a few things I've discovered in the last year or so of teaching.
You can find the original "5 Things My Students Taught Me" post here.
1.) Your long-term student will always be the same person at their core...
Whether your student is quiet, loud, easily bored, super intense, or anything else, the personality traits they display as a child will most likely be present for the entire time the two of you work together. Some qualities grow in prominence with age while others fade to the background, but your student's unique personality and temperament will remain the same at their core, so figure out what makes them tick and what their learning style is so you can communicate effectively with them.
2. ...but the way you relate to your long-term student will change over time.
When a young child joins your studio, the topics you discuss will be concrete: here's how to play low C, this is the headjoint, this is called a flat sign. They're tangible, easily explained concepts. As your student gets older, however, you will be able to talk about ideas that are more abstract and less easily defined; you'll find yourself discussing performance anxiety, timbre, and style. The older your student gets, the more in-depth your conversations can become, and older students will benefit from hearing (age-appropriate) stories from your life as they relate to what you're studying together.
3.) Let your students pick their music.
Remember the last time someone made you do something you didn't feel like doing? Remember the glorious sense of purpose and fulfillment that flooded your heart and mind? Didn't think so.
4.) Letting parents sit in on lessons is a double-edged sword.
It's good to have parents who are supportive and engaged, and if they have at least a passing familiarity with what's covered in lessons, they can help your student practice during the week between lessons. However, some students feel uncomfortable trying and failing in front of their parents and as a result won't push themselves during lessons. Feeling like there's no audience to see it if they try and fail can help shy students feel more at ease with experimenting during lessons. Another downside to parents in the studio is that a parent who interrupts you while you're teaching undermines your authority, which makes it harder to keep your more easily distracted or less willing students engaged in what's going on.
5.) Self-care is part of being a good role model.
It's up to you to determine the type of energy in your studio. If you bring in an attitude of positivity, enthusiasm, and joy, your students will pick up on that. But if you bring in an attitude of exhaustion or disengagement, they'll pick up on that too. You need to be a model for the type of behavior you want from your students, so it's essential that you get whatever kind of care you need in order to be the most nurturing version of yourself that you can be. This might come in the form of physical therapy, mental health counseling, or simply a relaxing spa day, but some form of stress release is key. In order to have a generous spirit as a teacher, you must have something to give.