Do students' throw-away comments matter?

Sometimes, students make comments that seem trivial, but we need to uncover their importance, so that we can address them.

Here are a few cases in point. 
  • "Oh, I'm just nervous:" This is one of the most frequent throw-away comments from students, which really means: "I have no idea how to handle my nervousness, and it is noticeable in my playing." This is the best time to explain to students how normal it is to feel nervous, and to give them concrete tools on how to deal with it.

  • "Oh, I'm just a slow learner:" When students mention that they are slow learners, it's time for a conversation on practicing. We need to figure out their process for learning, and offer them more options to try until they find the one that clicks.

  • "Oh, I just wish there was a mirror here:" Singers are the ones who mention the need for a mirror the most, and it is important we ask them why they want it, to see if we can help them even without one.

    If they wanted it to check their posture, we might be able to offer solutions such as standing against a wall in a certain way, or gently putting tape on the back of their neck for them to feel when their head goes against the position they wanted to hold.

    If they wanted it to check on their acting, we can have a talk with them about the fact that to be an actor is to be in the moment, and that a mirror may take them out of the moment. 
Throw-away comments are really questions in disguise. Don't miss out on the chance to help your students, even when they don't seem to ask for it.

Photo from http://gypsyshaven.blogspot.com/

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