Why Do Students Resist The Method Book Work?

Mar 8, 2017

by Cory Moon.

Learning an instrument is a very difficult thing to do, regardless of what age you start. A method book helps bring order and puts a plan together for a student’s music lesson.

However, some students seem to be very resistant to completing the work or practicing the material in a method book. Reasons for the opposition to the book work may include: the student’s goals are not lining up with the method, the student finds the method boring, they don’t find value in sight reading, the student is not prepared for the lesson, or they are unwilling to face new challenges.

For the purposes of this article, we will define a method book as a book with musical material that increases in difficulty to train the student how to play an instrument. I primarily use the Mel Bay Guitar Method for my beginner guitar students and the Berklee Press Method for my more advanced students.

While method books are a great way to build lesson plans, not every student is open to the idea of working out of a book. Here’s why:

  1. The student’s goals don’t line up with the book. I’ve run into this a few times with my adult guitar students. Sometimes, they just want to learn how to strum a few songs, or maybe just one particular song. If this is the case, a method book may not be necessary. You can opt for a song book of the student’s choice. Books on scale studies may be another viable option if your student is interested in learning how to improvise.
  2. The method is boring. If the material seems tedious to the student, you may find a song that the student recognizes and enjoys that they can learn. I suggest to keep the majority of the lesson on point with the material and spending the last few minutes looking at a song of the student’s choice.
  3. The student does not see the value in sight reading. You may demonstrate how valuable it is to sight read to the student by picking up a piece of music and just playing it. Sight reading is useful to anyone who plays an instrument. It’s difficult to learn, but the work is worth it.
  4. Your student isn’t prepared for their lesson. You may find defiance to the method simply because of a lack of practice from the student. Find ways to reward your student when they do practice. Praise the student. If they are a child, do this to their parents when they have practiced and made the most of their lesson. Help the student by writing down a practice regimen that they can put into action.
  5. The student is unwilling to face new challenges. If you don’t address this issue, you are going to lose this student very soon. Students may find comfort in the techniques and/or songs that they are really good at. Explain the connection of challenge to growth. You have to get uncomfortable if you want to grow as a musician.

The problem with method books is an easy issue to solve. Encouraging the student to practice, face new challenges, understand the value in sight reading, or just opting for songs and/or scale studies can help keep your student interested and engaged with his or her music lessons.

Cory Moon is a guitar teacher in Oklahoma City and the owner of GuitarLessonsOKC. Cory holds a bachelor of arts in guitar performance with advanced studies in improvisation and contemporary music theory, and has vast experience in performing.

< Lost Your Voice? How Your Posture Can Protect Your Voice When Teaching So, What Do YOU Do? Why Your “About Me” Is Never About You >