Teaching at a music summer intensive showed me that students can make incredible progress in a short period of time. Parents, teachers and students often think long term with music lessons, but so much learning can happen in a matter of weeks or days. Even more valuable in summer intensives is what students learn while living apart from their parents. They learn how to live: to cook, clean, make choices, have an opinion – they start to learn who they are. And that’s what every great artist does, cultivates a world-view to share with others through their art.
Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi were artists.
Changing the student’s environment, habits and routines is the first step in making a big impact in their growth. Different teachers giving similar feedback, new repertoire and a fresh piano or room to practice also play an important role. All of that matters, but I believe the biggest impact is the social pressure: students are surrounded by others who play incredibly well, they give frequent performances and are exposed in master classes.
What I learned from teaching at summer intensives is that it is the experiences that we create for our students that help them grow. All the corrections and guided listening helps, but it’s the maturity and mental development that creates better musicians and artists. When students can reflect on these experiences and find valuable lessons they can project these new perspectives on their music – and that changes everything.
If this is the case, then why is it that music studios only meet for recitals? Why can’t a music studio meet for paint night, pizza and a movie, or a museum visit? Could these experiences also help students come together and grow?