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really to grasp something new if he has other matters requiring his attention at the same time. To take some simple examples. To teach correct finger-action at the piano, it is not good to start the pupil with scales, or even with the much simpler five-finger exercises. Two-finger exercises are the necessary first step. Thus the pupil has an absolute minimum to think about, and can consequently give the maximum of attention to the essentials. Or again, on the violin the first step in teaching good bowing, after the pupil can hold both bow and instrument correctly, is to make him play with long bows on open strings, so that he has but the one thing to attend to-control of the bow and the bow-arm.

Furthermore, the advance from such very elementary, but necessary, exercises, must be by the smallest degrees. For instance, in connection with the example of two-finger exercises, these should not be immediately followed by five-finger exercises, but by groups for three fingers, then four, and finally five. And the same procedure should be followed in dealing with any branch of technique, whether elementary or advanced.

This method of reducing things " to their lowest terms " may most profitably be followed out in connection with difficulties which may occur in pieces, &c. Not infrequently a pupil will stumble badly over a passage chiefly because he does not realise what its essential action feels like. In such a case, the teacher must promptly devise some exercise which will reproduce that feeling in a simple form. A case from the writer's own experience may make this clearer. A piano pupil had difficulty with the following passage:

A major

in which she could not get the hands to alternate neatly and evenly. She was told to pat her knees with alternate hands many times consecutively, after which the passage gave no further trouble. The point to be noted here is that the essential action of the passage is the alternation of the hands, which she had not mastered. The exercise demanded this action, and nothing else, so that the whole attention could be given to it ; no accuracy of notes or fingering to be thought of ; no tone-quality to be considered ; just the one thing. This method of solving difficulties is most useful and effective, and should be followed in every possible case.

It is desirable that the lesson-time should be used according to plan, but this plan will be variable according to the needs of the individual student. Technical matters should be dealt with first, then studies, pieces, and finally sight-reading and ear-training. These last two items should never be neglected, however difficult it maybe to fit them in. They are just as important parts of the pupil's

To be continued

 

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