I was trying to motivate a young pupil to SUCCEED in getting through a line of her piece without being frustrated and over-faced by the size of the task. We were sweating our way through the last line of ‘Train Ride’, by Sarah Watts from the ABRSM Prep Test Book;
I found the way through was to approach the problem in a series of bite-sized chunks. Or even tiny little nibble-sized fragments;
I asked ‘Can you play the first bar?’ She gave it a go, and found that she could.
‘Can you play the second bar?’ She gave me an old-fashioned look and played it.
‘How about the A and the E in the Right Hand?’ She looked at me pityingly and played A E.
‘Now can you do the left hand 1 2 3 4 5?’ She clearly thought I was being rather simple.
‘And finally can both hands play the top note and the bottom note at the same time?’ Done before I’d finished asking.
‘So, have you played the whole of that line?’ Rather surprised, she admitted she had.
I had been writing down these questions in her notebook as we went along.
‘So all you have to do, when you are at home, is ask yourself the questions, and see if you can answer them.’
With a happy smile, she agreed. We then looked at the other lines, and worked out what ‘The Questions’ might be, and I’ll see what the outcome is next week.
Meanwhile, back at home, I am slowly trying to memorise the Chopin Nocturne no 1 in B flat minor.
‘Can I remember the change to D flat in the LH accompaniment? Yes
‘Can I remember what comes at the end of this RH run of quavers?’
So, what works for a seven-year-old child doing a prep test works for me as well – I bow to my mantra
‘To teach is to learn twice’