I have been a member of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) member for years and always enjoyed our meetings. On a friend’s recommendation, I joined MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) last fall, but this past week was the first time I was able to attend a local meeting (PMTA – Phoenix Music Teachers Association). It was a joy to meet with teachers (even though they were mostly piano teachers, and I’m a voice teacher). We talked business, and then we had a presentation on “Encounter Resistance In Our Teaching,” by nationally certified piano teacher Shellie Ruge.
Shellie gave us a fabulous presentation, including many clips from “The Karate Kid.” She raised several points; the biggest for me was that RESISTANCE IS A TWO-WAY STREET. If a student is not progressing, is wasting time in lessons, shows up late, if the parents are not paying on time, PART of the responsibility is ours as a teacher. We need to investigate OUR part of the equation and see what we can do about it.
As a result of this challenge, I have spent time in the two weeks since talking with my students about THEIR goals for lessons, both short- and long-term. I’ve worked together with almost all of my students in the time since, with great results. Students are invested in their lessons and almost all have signed up for the Spring Recital next month – the few who cannot attend have legitimate scheduling conflicts. I am also having students sign up for summer lessons at a greater rate than I had expected.
I have had one student who I challenged to sing more and better who have stepped up their resistance – coming late to lessons and then canceling late, as well. These students who don’t want to be there, we need, as teachers, to figure out WHY they are resisting. What is their reason? Are they scared to sing? What are they avoiding when all they want to do is talk? What can I do as a teacher to best use the lesson? Often, my seniors in high school need what I call (to myself) “counseling sessions.” What do I do when EVERY lesson turns into a session? I am allowing this to happen, so I need to redirect myself, and be very conscious of how I enable resistance in my students. [···]