Now you're learning!

Considering the optimum environment for effective learning.

Successful learning is something we would like all our pupils to experience. Let’s consider three factors that are central to bringing this about.

As teachers we like to be in control. We know what’s best. We know what works. We have all the answers (or most of them anyway).


But for really effective teaching and learning we also have to go with the flow. Everyone we teach is different. Recognising each individual’s needs, harmonising with their learning speed, acknowledging each response and then responding back appropriately are all key aspects of truly successful teaching and learning. So, be in control… but do also go with the flow. We can balance these two life forces, and applying this balance when you are teaching is crucial. In practice, and in general terms, we do need to know where we’re going with each pupil and have a clear idea of a lesson’s path. But we also need to be constantly adapting. We may well have an agenda, but it must be very flexible. Teach the pupil through the music and the instrument.

We also need to be patient. And so do our pupils and their parents! Appropriate patience in teaching and learning has a lot to do with expectation: learning to manage expectation and being as realistic as possible is so important. Pupils and parents are often impatient, usually because their expectations are unrealistic. If we can bring realistic targets to all teaching and learning situations we will really begin to instil happy and contented learning.

Finally, empathy. In my opinion, the most important quality of the Virtuoso Teacher is an ability to communicate. For really effective communication to take place we have to do our best to understand deeply the person or persons with whom we are communicating.

“When our pupils feel they are understood then they can begin to relax into really productive and secure learning.”

Here, we must do our best to determine their interests, their learning speed, their level of motivation, their natural energy levels and what makes them tick musically – all without them actually realising! When our pupils feel they are understood then they can begin to relax into really productive and secure learning.

So, be in control but go with the flow; set realistic and understandable targets to create a patient approach and empathise with your pupils. You will be delighted to see your pupils becoming truly happy and effective learners.