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Swimming with Dolphins

Clementine's assignment book with the Owl Incentive Chart and stickers for her to use at home.

Clementine's assignment book with the Owl Incentive Chart and stickers for her to use at home.

I wrote about creating an incentive program for my student, Clementine. This was the sheet that I made for her to use at home. Four successfully checked boxes meant she could put an owl sticker on her Owl Incentive Chart.

A week ago she literally could not play this piece.

Yesterday it sounded like this: 

Clementine exhibits several common student traits:

Swimming with Dolphins is a Primer Level piece in Middle C position with an easy teacher accompaniment. Excellent first recital piece.

Swimming with Dolphins is a Primer Level piece in Middle C position with an easy teacher accompaniment. Excellent first recital piece.

  • Clementine plays very slowly - but it doesn't feel slow to her. She is busy and working hard all the time. The notes of the accompaniment help fill in the length of long notes. If a student is playing this slowly, a three-beat note can feel like it's an hour long.
  • Singing the words to the song helps her with the rhythm and continuity, as well as motivating her by engaging her imagination. (What would it be like to swim with a dolphin?)
  • Playing an accompaniment along with her aids her rhythm development more than any other single thing I can do. Music is just like any other sport. If you play with someone better than you, it rubs off.

I find I do much better as a teacher if I assume nothing. I take the time to show each student how to make a practice plan. At first, it's simple and basic because all I'm trying to do is develop awareness of what practicing is. If I only reward things done perfectly, my student will not try to find their own errors and fix them. In fact, the opposite will be true. My student will learn to ignore errors.

If I reward finding errors, and teach my student how to deal with them, the stage will be set for successful learning.

 

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