A few times recently, I have been taking a moment with students.
Sometimes they get embarrassed and try to go on to something else.
But I make sure that we stop for a minute to seriously take a moment.
What exactly do I mean by taking a moment?
In the day to day/week to week routine of music lessons, it is easy to grind on and never appreciate the progress which is being made.
One of my students recently competed in a competition.
When we were debriefing, he said how much he had disliked the experience. Although he had played well, he found the nerves involved made him extremely uncomfortable, and had made the whole day very stressful.
I validated his experience. (I suffered bad nerves for many years, losing my place in the music and panicking, all while my fingers continued to play. An eyelash was stuck in my eye once during a Beethoven sonata performed in London during my Masters; and I continued to play. And to this day I have to take control over my mind during HSC examinations when my mind starts to worry about how important this exam is for the student and how I’d better not mess anything up.)
However, I encouraged my student to take a moment.
Two years ago he wouldn’t have even entered the competition.
Two years ago he was having such anxiety during lessons that tears frequently resulted and he couldn’t continue.
So during his lesson, we stopped to celebrate the progress that he has made. And to appreciate how far he has come.
I did it again with an adult student this week.
Being an adult (and perfectionist), she is extremely tough on herself and knows how far she has to go.
But it is important to appreciate each milestone, no matter how small.
And with another child yesterday, I pointed out how well she was sight-reading now, when a year ago she would have been immobilised.
I do need to enforce the moment, because often the progress has been so gradual, that the child doesn’t know what I’m talking about and cannot remember the time when this skill was a struggle.
And so we stop, think, and appreciate.
In this high-achieving world of instant success, it is so important to track and be grateful for incremental change and progress.