Working With the Over-Scheduled and Stressed Music Student

There are a vast number of opportunities that compete for time with music students today.

Sports used to be limited to one season and only a couple of practices a week. Now, there’s travel ball, extra practices, three-a-days, private lessons and extra camps.

Students are pushed to the max in school as well.

The couple of AP or honors classes that were offered in the past are now replaced by multiple AP class availability in all subjects as well extra tutoring sessions, future this-that-and-the-other clubs that seem to be so important, not to mention all the requirements of the typical student-athlete leave our kids today with little free time and even less music time!

So how do we deal with the hyper-scheduled and overly-stressed music student?

Employ the parents.

Many times, it is parental ego that over-schedules the kid.

They have high hopes of college scholarships and maybe even professional goals for their kids that are a bit unrealistic in other areas, especially sports.

Know your parents. If this is where their thinking is, you can use this to your advantage. Remind them that while all schools have a football team, not all football players can move around an instrument at a high level.

Playing an instrument for a number of years sets them apart from other student-athletes with similar prowess on the field and make them more well-rounded.

Help them understand that music is a quality of life thing, and their child should not miss out on the opportunity to really understand it.

It is very rare to hear someone say they wish they had never taken music lessons. Instead, they wish their parents had not allowed them to give up on it.

They understand the value of music or they wouldn’t have brought their child to you.

Give them opportunities to see professionals in concert as a family. Encourage them to unplug and connect with our past.

What were those people living through when that masterpiece was created?

Be realistic.

Instead of focusing on creating a concert pianist or symphony musician, focus on creating a lifelong lover of music: one who will support the arts with enthusiasm and understanding.

These kids are the future audiences. Help them want to be!

Music may not be the top priority in your student’s life now, but it will always be something they can remember.

There are bound to be a couple of things outside of music or even one major one that hits the top for them. If it is not music (what?!?!?!), figure out what is and help show them how music adds to it rather than taking their time away from their primary desire.

Liken music to their other passions, and they will make room for it.

Be their light.

In the world of hyper-extended and overly stressed students, you have the
opportunity provide their respite. You may not realize how broken and defeated they are when they arrive for their instruction.

Show them how music is the break in their life: something to turn to when everything else is overwhelming. It becomes an outlet for their frustration, sadness, and even hyperactivity. It can be that one thing that helps them find their center.

With that in mind…

Program accordingly.

You have the opportunity to tap into those emotions they are already feeling and become increasingly expressive. Boom! Two birds, one stone.

Choosing appropriate repertoire is one of the most of the important aspects of our teaching. We need to select music that is attainable and exciting, that challenges but motivates.

Choose music that explores nuances that the student has not yet encountered that they can recognize in other concert pieces, pop songs, and movie soundtracks.

Know your student’s schedule. What are they actually physically capable of scheduling in terms of practice time?

At best, they’re getting ample practice time in at home. At worst (normal scenario for many), they’re only able to accomplish a little during lesson time.

When a student is able to achieve a high level on a piece of music, it only motivates them to reach higher! 


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