Tough love

Every so often I need to reach for the tissue box in lessons.

Tears happen.

Does it mean we’re too tough as teachers? It depends.

I often push students as hard as I think they can go. The result is a deeper student to teacher connection in the long term, but a frustrated student in the short term.

I push them because they can do it. Because I believe it’s the right thing to do.

It’s tough being a student. I know. I was there and went through every lesson, recital, competition, audition, tours and more. But is it right for teachers to expect any less than what we expected for ourselves? To what standard should we hold our students to?

I still remember one of the first times I decided to give a student a hard time. She’s a teenager, Sarah, I put a lot of pressure on her for an upcoming recital. I don’t yell, ever. But I did give her a really hard time. I pointed at every minor detail and area for improvement, over and over for about a month. In a month’s time she was practicing over double and now is one of my best students.

She wants to major in music now. But before this development and through her growing process, there were tears. So is that okay?

What do you think?


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