Adults achieve success when they focus on their strengths. They tend to learn by doing, through site and touch rather than hearing. If someone spends all day talking to adults their retention is far less than if they were taken through a series of tasks.
I see this all the time. When I first taught guitar lessons I made the mistake of talking too much. Now I guide people through a series of tasks. If confusion
there remains we go over the material again and I have them explain it back to me. Occasionally adults feel it’s too elementary. I let them know it’s all part of the process and does work. It demonstrates deep understanding, which is important for their growth.
When I have to talk a lot I shoot for motivation, understanding their feelings and letting them know how the material fits in the overall scheme of guitar playing. This helps. People often feel like learning guitar is just a long series of separate tasks that may or may not add up. Without perspective this is easily true. I’ve met many players who don’t really know the guitar. They know how to play songs, but don’t understand the neck. They can play a lead, but can’t improvise. Broad context remains elusive. Everything they play is situational. Guitar is so versatile it’s important to constantly provide perspective. It’s great when
little lights go go on on in their eyes. They feel like they are part of a larger whole , which is true.
This brings me to
individuality. Introverts and extroverts learn very differently from each other. However they share some similarities. On a macro level both groups learn new things through participation. A key with introverts is to get them out of their head. They tend to get stuck on a detail and think about it deeply, thus missing necessary information and not mentally moving past that point . They have to solve each problem as if it’s large. While this may seem like a hindrance to some it’s really not. Introverts develop deep and meaningful understanding s as a basis for their progress. I find when I get them to discuss ideas we coverthey. Thus ing works like a charmwheresubject matter. That way we can approach the material in bite size pieces, which leads to an aggregate understanding. This is really cool because many introverts were subject to typical school situations. I try to provide them with an environment that matches their learning style.
For example when I teach an introvert a strum pattern I play through the entire pattern for them. They instantly get this “mind blown” look and I start to break it down. I tend to isolate it into many smaller parts than I do for extroverts. We build from there. It takes a little longer but here is the great part. This makes the strum pattern meaningful for them. They don’t forget the material. Once it’s meaningful that’s it. They have a reference to call upon and I’m frequently blown away by their application of material. In the end they learn, as a whole, about the same rate as extroverts.
Extroverts are different. They get the mental part of material very quickly but tend to stray on the details. I’ll show them what they have to work on and they get it that lesson. However next week the extroverts are the ones who come back and the strum pattern but are playing it slightly “wrong.” I put “wrong” in quotes because I don’t believe there are incorrect strum patterns. If you’re playing it in time and it works for the music then it’s right. However it’s important to learn various strums to expand your mental, musical library. I usually have to get extroverts to slow down and work their way through things. Sometimes they get impatient, but it works and they accept the process, in the end reducing their stress load.
These are some of my ideas about different people and their learning styles. Most people are a mix between extroversion and introversion. I fit into that category. There are also people who lie firmly within a group but have other issues, which create learning hurdles. For example an introvert who plows through material and tries to extrapolate understanding through unguided experience. This works sometimes but doesn’t generally when it comes to specific skills. It gets in the way , bogs down their progress and they start to stress out. It makes them feel unsafe, unworthy and like a failure. The music teacher’s job is to recognize this and deal with it accordingly. This means, reduce the process down to smaller bits, make the person feel comfortable, explain what’s going on, and make sure the learner understands. Make sure they don’t beat themselves up mentally and give it another go!
It’s a music teacher’s job to recognize the kind of person they’re teaching and adjust accordingly. This makes all the difference in the world and enhances everyone’s chances for success.