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Self-consciousness on the part of pupils is another troublesome business. It may be defined as being too much aware of oneself, and attending too much to the effect one is having on others. The bad results which arise from it are thus due to divided attention. To do a thing in the best manner of which one is capable, one must be giving the whole attention to it. But the self-conscious person has part of the attention on the matter in hand, and part on the effect he is making on the people around. Thus, performance inevitably suffers. Such pupils must be continually impressed with the absolute necessity of complete concentration on what they are doing.

Pupils as a whole may be divided into three main categories

(a) the dull ;

(b) the average ;

(c) the talented.

Each of these may be further divided into the keen and the not keen.

(a) The dull pupil.

The dull pupil is not necessarily a problem ; it depends on whether he is keen or not, Surprisingly enough, quite a number of more or less unmusical people are quite keen on learning music, and unfortunately, all too many unmusical children are forced to take lessons against their will. With adults it can, of course, be taken for granted that they learn because they want to ; but with children it is always advisable to try to find out the real state of affairs. Some children when asked if they are fond of music will reply in a half-hearted manner that they are, but on probing further the teacher may find that they are taking lessons only because their parents make them do so. This is the type which is apt to be a problem, and it becomes more than ever necessary to get on a thoroughly friendly footing with them. Without this absolutely no results will be obtained at all. While if the teacher can only gain the child's personal liking, surprisingly good results sometimes accrue.

It is a mistake to brand a child as utterly unmusical after merely one or two lessons. True, one does occasionally meet the child who has not a spark of music in him, but this is really very rare ; and though some children need a great deal of " drawing out," patience and perseverance will work wonders. In the case of the child who after fair trial obviously will never do any good, the only thing is to see the parents, and to try to prevail on them to discontinue the lessons. (Unfortunately some parents are apt to be uncommonly difficult over this matter.) But if there appears to be any sign at all of musical sensibility, nurse the feeble spark with the greatest care, and, provided the child is not deliberately lazy nor antipathetic, results will eventually appear. It is no use expecting anything brilliant, but great satisfaction will be found in the progress made by such pupils, small and slow though it inevitably is.

Care is needed not to give the dull pupil too much work to do. Being slow of comprehension, he will naturally be able to absorb only a small amount of knowledge at a time. But what he does learn he must be made to learn

To be continued

 

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