This is kind of a “duh!” idea, but when I attended our local music teachers association Mid-Winter Retreat two weekends ago, the guest speaker was sharing about how she introduces new pieces to her students. She said, “Of course I always start out by having them make a list of all the terms in their piece and what they mean…” Of course. As in, this is something that every good music teacher already does, right? I shifted my eyes around to see if everyone else was nodding their heads as if to say, “old news.” But inwardly I wondered, “why haven’t I ever done that? What a good idea!” Sure, I’m forever pointing out symbols or terms and asking students what they mean. Invariably I get a blank look as if to say, “how should I know…you’ve never told me.” And invariably, I never am quite sure whether I discussed that particular term with that particular student.
Having the student list all the terms and definitions as a matter of habit at the onset of every new piece seems like a systematic way of precluding such situations. Of course, then the student will lose the paper or it will get chewed up by the dog or colored on by the little sister and then the student will be required to make a new list (at which point the student will look at me imploringly and ask if they really have to write a whole new list and I will remind them that their parents pay me good money to devise such torturous tactics and this is my newest one…). And maybe, just maybe, by writing down these terms and definitions over and over and being drilled on them at their lesson each week they will eventually know them by heart. It’s definitely worth a try!