“What now?” I prayed silently as I set the tiny 1/8-size violin on my excited 5-year-old student’s shoulder, showing her the proper way to hold it. It was our first lesson together and although I had taught many lessons to students who already knew the basics of playing, I had no idea how to start someone – especially a 5-year-old – for the first time!
The answer came just as I needed it, and by the time our lesson time was up, the sweet little girl I was teaching had straightforward, easy directions on what to practice during the week, she could hold her instrument, and she was able to play a simple rhythm. She and her mom were thrilled, and her older brother even decided to start lessons too. Both siblings have been progressing nicely ever since and they are a real joy to teach!
My style of teaching is really a reflection of who I am: a child of God. I see each of my students as a unique and special person who I get the honor of coaching in the area of music, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I pray for each of my students by name often, and as I go to teach each lesson, I say, “Lord, I am a skilled violinist and I know a good deal about how to teach my students to play better. I will do my very best to teach the students You have given me, but I’m still going to be lacking specific knowledge in how to help some of my students with certain things or even in what to teach them next. When that happens, I need You to guide me and show me what to do or say to help these students.” I dedicate each lesson to the Lord and ask Him for guidance.
I do plan my lessons, and I go into each one with a list of what I’m going to work on with that particular student. After they play their repertoire, I identify specific techniques or concepts to emphasize based on their specific needs, and we focus on those things during the lesson. However, no amount of planning is sufficient to help every student’s needs in each situation. It is during those times when I encounter something new or unique that I pray silently, and I instantly know exactly how to help my student fix the problem they’re encountering. Every lesson is an adventure for me, and I’m convinced that I learn at least as much as my students do!