"My child seems to be talking a lot during her lesson!"
"I'm not sure why he's so chatty, please feel free to tell him to focus!"
I've heard a lot of comments relating to talking during music lessons and decided it was time to put up a quick post about my feelings on the topic! In general, I allow talking during lessons, as I believe connection between student and teacher is important - ESPECIALLY with very young students. There are times, of course, when I do need to tighten up the reins, but it depends on the reason behind the talking.
New Student/New Teacher
This is the most common time you'll hear students chatting away happily during their time with me. They're getting to know who I am as a person and as a teacher, and I'm getting to know a little bit about how they think and perceive the world around them. I feel this is incredibly beneficial for both parties, as it gives me some insight into how my student's mind works, and they learn that I value their thoughts and ideas. I have often said my students teach me more than I teach them, and - especially with new students - this is totally true. My teaching approach is not "one size fits all" - and learning a bit more about the unique personality of each student helps ensure their success in learning music. The "new student" chatting usually subsides within a couple of lessons. If we're 6 months in and still spending a lot of time chatting, here are some other possible reasons:
New Concepts/Unfamiliar Musical Territory
New musical concepts are the biggest reason you may hear talking during a lesson. This is a very common student tactic to avoid learning a new concept or possibly making a mistake when trying a new musical idea for the first time. Totally normal, totally common, no cause for distress. In this case, unlike with a new student, where I'm likely to listen and then gently pull the student's attention back to the piano, I'm more likely to try a different approach to the concept. The sudden fascination with the squirrel outside the window or my striped socks is a pretty obvious tip-off to me that the student doesn't feel confident enough in what we're learning to actually give it a try. So in this case, I'll guide their attention back to the lesson, revisit the concept we've just gone over, demonstrate, and ask questions before asking them to give it a try on their own. Usually, this reiteration of the lesson is enough to ease the nervous talking. Young children may not have a large vocabulary or all the words to describe how they're feeling, so they'll often use what they can to express themselves if they're unsure of what to do next.
Not Wanting to Play Music Today
This is normal too - we've all had days we didn't want to do what we were supposed to do! Sometimes students will simply tell me they don't feel like playing today - which is totally fine and understandable, and I have a host of games, flash cards, coloring pages, and other information we can use to learn about music without actually playing on those days! More on these ideas in another post! Other times, students will attempt to distract me from teaching with very involved stories. I do my best to distinguish between nerves and not feeling it, and I'll often ask the student outright if they want to make music today. If not, no worries. Sometimes they say they do, but they've got something on their minds - and I let them get that out before we play. It's called "playing music" for a reason, and if they're struggling with something else, it can be very difficult to learn a new concept or focus on improving a familiar piece.
Talking during lessons is normal and common. I am a firm believer that everyone has an innate desire to be listened to - not just heard, but to have someone LISTEN. I do my best to always listen to my students while also being aware of the goal to improve their musical skills. Listening, understanding, and promoting confidence in my students are all part of the overall experience of learning music with me - I want them to not only be successful musicians but also successful people. There's more to learning music than simply reading notes on a page, and the interaction between talking and listening will actually come in handy as they develop listening and responding skills on their instruments! It's a process - and I truly enjoy seeing students become confident musicians!
If you're ready to get started on your musical journey, please contact me today!