|(c) The talented pupil.
It was remarked above that the dull pupil is not necessarily a problem.
Conversely, the talented one is not always the easiest to handle : he needs
quite as much care in treatment as any other.
A frequent source of worry in connection with the gifted student is that
owing to the comparative ease with which he can do things, he tends to be
slack and lazy in his work. To the uninitiated it may seem strange that one
of considerable talent should not do consistently good work, and show a high
level of keenness, but it is nevertheless true that such pupils are not
infrequently a disappointment to the teacher. This is due to the fact that
the pupil's natural facility leads him to think that be can to a large
extent dispense with hard work. He will spend much of his practice time
doing anything but what he has been set to do, and risk what will happen at
his lessons. The young teacher may take some little time to realize what is
happening, but the more experienced one will see immediately what is going
on, and take steps to alter matters. Pupils of this kind need very strict
treatment-they must be made to realize that a very high standard is expected
of them, and made to work really hard.
A fairly common fault of the talented pupil is what is usually known as
"swelled-headedness." It does not necessarily follow that every gifted pupil
is bound to have too good an opinion of himself, but in some cases this
trait becomes objectionably prominent. The teacher must make the pupil
realize his (the teacher's) superiority, and must keep him " in his place."
Praise should be given sparingly, and not unless the work is of the standard
that the teacher knows he is quite justified in expecting.
In dealing with gifted pupils the teacher needs to watch himself, and to
take care that he does not try to get them on too quickly. The pupil's
facility is apt to be deceptive, and to delude the inexperienced teacher
into thinking that things are really mastered when actually they are not.
Just as much care must be taken to lay a good foundation in every direction
as with other pupils. Technical matters must be just as minutely explained
and demonstrated, and painstaking practice insisted on. It can be expected
that the talented student will grasp things more quickly and put them into
practice with greater ease than the less gifted one, but the hard work must
be done, nevertheless.
Moreover, the teacher must not think that he can afford to "take things
easy" where the gifted pupil is concerned ; on the contrary, for the very
reason that the student may be expected to accomplish something thoroughly
good, and it is the teacher's business to see that he makes the fullest use
of his capabilities. It is at all times a mistake to teach " parrot-fashion
"-that is, to make pupils copy slavishly the teacher's rendering of a piece.
The less gifted pupil will naturally need a good deal of help in matters of
interpretation, but should nevertheless be allowed and encouraged to give
his own reading of works, the teacher correcting when something unmusical or
inartistic occurs. It is to be expected that talented pupils will need less
correction in this direction than the less gifted, but they should not be
allowed to play pieces just as they wish,
To be continued