How to teach students to play with purpose

It is traditional that in music lessons, students work on technically challenging pieces. That's when their technique gets improved on and their level goes up. But it's only many years later, in early adulthood, that most students finally understand what it's like to be fully in control of a piece, technically and musically. Why then? Because by then, many students have gone through college, where they got to play some easier pieces in some of their ensembles.

There is no reason that full control of a piece should come this late, after this many years of lessons. If us teachers were to give our students a very easy piece every week alongside their regular ones, students would learn from a young age what it means to own a piece. As the years would go by, they would be able to translate that information into their harder works. When practicing their demanding pieces, students are too concerned with the technical aspects of it to be able to completely master the musical aspects of it as well. Because they would be freed from technical challenges when working on an accessible piece, they could focus solely on musical challenges.

Giving students challenging technical pieces only makes student's musical level lags behind their technical level. By addressing both aspects with a long and arduous piece alongside a short and technically basic piece, students can become well rounded in music at a younger age, and understand what it means to play with purpose.

Picture from http://blogs.skokielibrary.info/studio/2009/02/14/midnight-music-using-classical-music-library/

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