As I traveled through my typical teaching week at the university and my private studio, I entertained myself by categorizing the various types of students that I saw in a week. I came up with seven different types of students. Let me know if any of you have found similar students in your studio or home.
The Stutterer. This student picks a speed that is a bit too fast for playing accurately. The student keeps making mistakes and stopping. Because the speed is so fast, the stopping and starting happens frequently, as if the student were stuttering through the music.
The Drive-by Shooter. The drive-by shooter passes by and makes mistakes, fixing them as he goes along. Related to the stutterer, the drive-by shooter differs in that he does pick a fairly reasonable tempo, but instead of practicing in a way that will fix the mistakes so that they will not occur again, the drive-by shooter hits the mistakes, fixes them at the moment (if at all), and keeps on driving. There is no attention paid to the carnage left in this student's wake.
The Running Starter (aka the long wind-upper). This student does not fix problems where they occur. Instead, when this student makes a mistake, the student backs up several measures earlier in the music and makes another running start at the troublesome passage, as if the student might get it the next time if they have a long enough running start or long wind-up first.
The Fixer-Upper. This student constantly stops during lessons to practice everything. Unlike the other types of students, the fixer-upper enjoys practicing and taking things apart. Unfortunately, the fixer-upper's work is never done. There is always something more to fix up, and for the teacher, there is no continuity to the student's performance. The student keeps practicing during the lesson.
The Midstream Horseman. This student changes the goals midstream. If the teacher asks for the student to play a passage again and focus on a particular area of technique, such as a left hand issue or a bowing problem, this student will play the passage again and allow himself to be completely distracted by some other goal that is not the teacher's requested focus of the moment.
The Turtle. The turtle practices everything so slowly, that the student loses all sense of the melody and the pitch. The turtle makes frequent stops as well. The turtle may take four times longer to play a scale or an etude than other students will.
The Price Checker. This student stops frequently to check whether the student is playing in tune. Rather than checking the pitch while in position, the price checker will jump down to first position and check a pitch from that location against the higher pitch. So instead of teaching himself to play in tune in the upper position or to find a reference pitch in the higher position, this student becomes quite adept at jumping from higher positions to lower positions and back.
Did you recognize yourself or one of your students in the above list? Which one?