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(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

 

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