At my student Karen’s lesson today, we figured out something important. Karen already knows that if she doesn’t want to play a song anymore, she doesn’t have to, whether she’s learned it perfectly or not.
She also knows that she can practice whatever she wants during the week and choose not to play it at all at her lesson. This lessens stress for her, and it means she’s playing for her and not for me. And we use lessons to work on sight reading and various techniques and hints for her to be able to work on her own better.
Today Karen was lamenting that she didn’t remember the songs she learned for very long—not as in memorizing, but as in when she went back to them later she felt like she had lost a bit. So what we figured out is that she doesn’t have to ever go back and play the old songs unless she wants to, and that she totally has my permission on this. I will never press her to develop a current repertoire. She doesn’t need one if she doesn’t want it.
Even better, it clarifies that what she loves is the process of practicing and learning new songs and techniques. It doesn’t matter how much or how little she remembers of specific prior songs. Inevitably she keeps getting better at playing and keeps bringing more to the process of learning and playing songs for herself. It’s perfect process learning—she practices and learns because she wants to practice and learn, and in her practice she never has anything to worry about for lessons.
I've taught piano accordion for many years. I've been playing nonstop since I was nine. As a veteran alternative school teacher and teacher of different learners, I teach all ages. I especially love to work with adults who are trying to remember how to be beginners. My lessons are seriously individualized. In my home in North Oakland.