This morning is off to a great start with Randall Faber presenting a session on “Stages of Talent Development.” The presentation is accompanied by an 18-page handout that I’m excited to read through after the conference.
Dr. Faber began by positing that we can’t assume that a student is engaged in the lesson or what we’re teaching just because we are engaged in it. He also reminded us that piano will shift in importance in the students’ lives. It is competing with other activities. We can’t be so egocentric as to think that it will be the most important thing in every student’s life just because it is such a big part of our life.
Although every student has different needs and motivations and must be taught as an individual, there are specific aspects of a child’s development that are instructive for us, as teachers.
Research reveals the following elements of a young person’s development:
Ages 4-6 – Elementary=fun. If they have a good time, they want to come back. (See yesterday’s session, “Fostering a Love of Music,” for additional insights.)
Ages 7-13 – Reinforcement | Self-Esteem | Competence – More in touch with the real world and higher level of self-awareness. When a student feels confident in his skill, he will receive more positive reinforcement, which will motivate him to practice more, resulting in greater progress. At this age, the student is looking to have this need filled. He is looking for an area in which he can “shine.”
Ages 13-20 – Competence | Identity | Passion – A perception of personal competence is still a key factor. An identity begins to form around a young person’s areas of skill. This drives the attention away from other pursuits and focuses on a particular area. This leads to passion and a greater investment of time. Those who don’t have a clear sense of identity are pulled by peer influence to grasp for identity within peer groups and activities. When an identity is built around a skill, the student understands and is willing to invest the hard work that it takes to achieve a higher level of skill.
Dr. Faber shared several case studies/stories to corroborate his points and illustrate the practical application of these developmental stages. Lots of interesting food for thought!