Among the challenges of teaching applied music lessons to students over the course of their undergraduate studies is dealing with monotony, or at least the appearance of monotony. Musicians have a difficult task of practicing their instruments for hours a day, every day of the week, often doing the same types of exercises over and over. So, it is inevitable that this routine occasionally becomes tedious. The same is true of the actual lesson with the student. There is a danger of falling into patterns that lose their effectiveness, efficiency, and impact over time.
How to combat the tedium? Well, to a certain extent the answer to this question is personal, unique to each individual. Each musician has his or her motivations for making music, and this is often enough to stay on the path of progress. Sometimes, however, this is not enough. I have developed a strategy which I believe works for me and my students.
The first step is to build as much variety as is reasonable into the lesson and change the structure of the lesson itself once in a while. This prevents predictability and can keep both the student and the instructor engaged. The second step is to identify the elements that appear to motivate the individual student and incorporate them into the lesson. In the third step, I introduce students to music and performers that they have not heard of in an effort to keep music and music-making novel and inspiring. Sometimes I introduce a student to an unusual type of music or polarizing performer simply as a way to elicit a strong reaction, as that can help them feel more confident in their own musical preferences and choices. The challenge of dealing with monotony is a daily one, but dealing with it is key to staying oriented on the long journey.