Understanding Students’ Characters

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March 6, 2010


Understanding the different characters of each student is very important. I would use different strategies to teach each of them, even when teaching the same technique or same musical expression, so that I can get to them quickly and efficiently. When I present the same idea precisely suitable to target students of different characters, the result can be tremendous.

The following is just a general information from my observation in the past years.


The only child


The only child is self-conscious. Looks tough but is actually shy. Seems to have confidence of him/herself but it is not really the case. S/He is in fact quite timid as s/he has no one to look up to or take care of. Has a lot of thoughts inside his/her head but would not tell you. May look cheerful and outgoing but in fact the opposite. An introvert. But s/he would look proud. Very reluctant to take chances. Hate to make mistake so s/he rather not try something new. and s/he makes sure s/he is doing the right thing all the time as s/he is well aware his/her identity as the only child and thus the only hope for his/her parents, so no chances should be taken and each and every step should be taken very carefully. S/He does not like being adventurous and having to open up his/her heart or tell you how s/he feels. Always worried how others look at and feel about him/her.


Two children


The first child is always more responsible but lack of imagination. More of a square character. More diligent and timid. More afraid to take risk and make mistake. Not quite self-confident. Has to be given a lot of reassurance before s/he acknowledges his/her strength.


The second child is more adventurous. Not afraid to show what s/he wants. In fact, eager to express what s/he feels. Sometimes depend on too much of the first child, holding the notion of “I am the younger one and you (all) have to take care of me” and push responsibility on the elder sibling. More naughty and less obedient. Always play emotional tricks on the older generations (grandparents/parents/teachers). However, more creative and more bold. Is more confident of him/herself.



Three children


The eldest child is like the older one of the two-children pair. The most responsible one. Is the one parents have to take least care/worry of. Most obedient, diligent and responsible, even though s/he might not want to. Take best care of him/herself. Afraid to make mistake and do not like being adventurous. Least creative. Most stable and predictable in terms of emotion and behavior. Would take care of the younger ones as s/he knows his/her position and responsibility as the oldest child.



The middle child is the most unfathomable and the most confused. Has the strongest character. Positioned in the middle of the three, s/he does not know if s/he should look up to the older child or be an example of the younger one. S/He chooses to do none of those. Very carefree if not the most. Most unpredictable behavior. Most creative and most adventurous out of all three.


The youngest child is perhaps the smartest of all three. S/He sees what the older twos have done and learns from them. S/He has indeed the least responsibility and at the same time is taken most care of by the other two children and the family. S/He has the most liberty to do and try almost anything and not to take the blame. Also very creative and adventurous. Sometimes rely too much on the other children.


Understanding individual student’s interest and favorite is also very helpful in my teaching. Because sometimes the technical terminology in music can be difficult to the students to fathom, I would use examples of their interests and hobbies, things that they understand (especially for children), to explain the problems encountered in their playing and the details in the music.


Apart from the above, I also learn about each student’s background, especially his/her past learning experience and upbringing. And I would make them learn about themselves, as everyone is the best teacher of him/herself. With more information at hand, I can bring him/her to the next new level of piano learning and performance breakthrough.


My students have different characters and have various tastes and likes, coming from all sorts of backgrounds and upbringings. And I treasure them all and treat them equally.



Teresa Wong



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