Making progress with clear, simple goals

We practiced after dinner, and it went pretty well. We did:

  • A couple of D scales.
  • 21 good repetitions of the first 2 bars of the Bach Tanz
  • 4 sections of the Bach Tanz, out of order (D, C, B, A, I think).

M was a little uncooperative, but her resistance was cheerful (e.g., making jokes), not tearful. And I had one good threat in my pocket: If she caused our lesson to drag on by not cooperating, we would not have time for dessert. I probably only had to mention this twice.

Also, she has begun to respond well when I say “Do X — right now.” I’ve started saying this recently because she often dawdles every time she’s asked to do something.

But I’m giving the wrong impression.  Though I did periodically give “right now” instructions, and more than once told her — gently exasperated — to quit fooling around, conflict was a small part of the lesson. For the most part, both M and I were cheerful, and it ended on a good note.

Working on the 21 two-bar repetitions turned out to be a great exercise. We took it in chunks that gradually got bigger. First, she did one repetition, and the first was nearly perfect. We discussed it a little, then she did a second; she made a mistake, so that one didn’t count. We went on like that, one at a time, until she had done a few. The only technical problem she had was a drifting left pinky, and she was able to notice it and work on it herself.

Then I started asking her to do two right in a row for them to count, and to stay in position after the first one while I counted off another two measures. After doing that, I asked for three in a row, and then for five. When we got to five, she nailed them. She didn’t nail the next five in a row, but she was aware of what she was doing, so I was satisfied.

Overall, by taking this approach, I was able to remind M to focus, and she was gradually able to experience longer and longer periods of focus.

The Bach Tanz sections were variable — she blew the first A section because she didn’t pay enough attention, but then got it right. She blew the C section because her right hand wandered all over, but after a couple of slower repetitions, she got that too. And she nailed both the D and A sections the first time through.

Maybe I can keep her away from the violin after all.

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