|But although one may class certain of one's pupils as "
average," there is no reason to take it for granted that they must remain
so, and in fact one may say that it is the teacher's business to see that
they do not remain stationary. Obviously, a pupil of moderate talent is
unlikely to rival one who is naturally very gifted ; but if the teacher will
only persevere and work hard, great improvement can be effected, and the "
merely mediocre " develop into something approaching " really good." Pupils
who at first may seem to show little promise of ever doing more than
passably good work will often reveal unsuspected abilities if properly
handled. A piece of advice which every young teacher should always bear in
mind is that one should take it for granted that every pupil has
possibilities, and that it is the teacher's business to draw these out. So
that once again we are brought back to three of the fundamentals of teaching
-patience, perseverance, and enthusiasm. Placid acquiescence in merely pass-
able work is a bad attitude for a teacher to adopt-a sure sign of laziness.
By every means in his power he should be continually urging his pupils on to
better work, and the more personal interest he takes in them, the more
enjoyable and helpful he makes the lessons, the more attention he pays to
the tiniest details, the better results he will obtain.
Work at Ear-training and Appreciation is most essential, as they increase
keenness of musical perception ; everything possible should be done to
increase the general interest in music, and to draw out whatever latent
talent there may be. Especially the teacher must show enthusiasm and
endeavor to infect the pupil with it. So many of the average type of learner
lack real keenness ; they are musical and interested enough not to do really
bad work, but they show lack of " drive " and concentration. Inevitably,
therefore, their progress is merely of the kind described in reports as "
fair " or " satisfactory "-the kind of comment which damns with faint
praise. With such, the teacher must be continually urging them on to better
and harder work, and be prepared to work more than usually hard himself at
lessons. If the pupil sees that the teacher is really keen to help him to
get on, and not merely doing a bare minimum of work, he will sooner or later
begin to copy the teacher's example.
With the average pupil, entry for an examination is often a successful
incentive. It gives him a definite aim in his work, and offers him some
tangible reward, in the shape of a certificate or prize, for his efforts.
(Indirectly, it may be also said that examinations are a means of keeping
teachers themselves up to their work ; failures damage the reputation, while
successes improve it and tend to bring more pupils.) As soon as a pupil is
old enough and intelligent enough, he should be urged to attend concerts,
and if possible the teacher should give him a little talk about what he is
going to hear, in advance. In this way the learner can be brought to realize
that music is not simply a matter of study, but that it also has the
function of giving enjoyment to others. Moreover, listening to music does
much to broaden one's musical ideas and culture (and tends to make one more
critical of one's own performances-a point which is all too often lost sight
of by even professional students, and their teachers).
To be continued