A young student I teach is wildly talented. He was drawn to piano on his own, burned through several basic music books his teachers at school had given him, and by the time we started lessons together last month, he was already fiddling with concepts that I only started as a teenager.
Imagine a competent teenage pianist, ready to take his skills at reading music and knowledge of theory to the next level - that’s where this young boy, at seven years old, is starting.
It’s now the fifth lesson and I’ve had to completely rethink my pedagogical approach to work with this boy.
The issue is, he’s still seven. He can inhale and breathe back new information like it’s nothing, but it’s still a sensitive age. One problem comes to mind: at some point through our lessons, he’ll stumble on a concept that’s just too hard to grasp right away.
It’s possible he’ll do what many smart kids do: start to assume they’re idiots for not understanding it immediately.
It’s tough. On the one hand, almost everything we’ve worked on is too easy for him. On the other hand, if I overcompensate by mistake and give him something that is just too hard, I risk alienating him. He’s not a teenager, nor an adult - he might not have the verbal skills to distinguish a challenge from (what he perceives as) an impossible demand, so he might act out emotionally instead of talking to me. He might be ashamed to just tell me “hey this is too hard.”
For now, I NEVER ASSUME prior knowledge, even though his knowledge is already vast.
Brett Crudgington teaches piano lessons in Brooklyn, NY. Get in touch at email@example.com