One size fits all? Hardly. Of course, each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and their unique ways of learning. These individual learning styles influence the way I teach each of my students. Further, my students have different goals in choosing to pursue private music lessons. Understanding these goals allows me to tailor my expectations for each student.
As a private instructor, I strive to match the teaching to the student. As a result, I don’t have one single method that I use for each student, though my basic goals for each student may be similar. One basic goal might be for my students to learn the essential elements of good musicianship on their instrument. However, depending on the student, how we work together to achieve those goals may be different. I may learn that Benjamin has a very gestalt, or kinesthetic, way of learning. In other words, he learns best in very physical ways, and he likes to see the big picture before he goes back and fills in the details. On the other hand, Aqilah may be a very visual, sequential learner. She learns best by seeing—watching her teacher demonstrate, seeing visual cues in the music, and learning in a very step-by-step way. So while I might emphasize kinesthetic means of practice with Benjamin, and assign him entire pieces in an overview manner, I would emphasize visual means of practice with Aqilah, and perhaps break the piece down into smaller steps before tackling the whole piece. The ultimate goal is the same: learn the piece using proper technique and good musical practice. But the means of attaining these goals is different depending on the student. Not only does this help the student learn more effectively, but I think ultimately it helps the student develop a better understanding of how they might learn best in other areas as well.
Likewise, my short term and long term expectations for each of my students differ based upon their goals. I see nothing wrong with a student wanting to take music lessons along with soccer, swim team, scouts, part time work, and Spanish club. I know that I would not like to be that busy, but if a student chooses to do those things, I don’t see any reason why that student shouldn’t be allowed to pursue music study on a small scale. I also see nothing wrong with adjusting my expectations for that student so that they are in line with the goals that student has for him or herself. However, my expectations are vastly different for the student who intends to major in music. For the future music major, I expect the utmost commitment and self discipline, because that is what it takes to make a successful career in music.