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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

 

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