Every student who desires to attend his or her dream university knows that a “well-rounded” education is essential for acceptance. And those who display an excellent propensity for a classic instrument like the violin have an advantage; it provides the opportunities to perform and display leadership and participation skills, community involvement, and other qualities that review boards consider when granting enrollment.
Knowing those facts, many students will commit to a rigorous schedule that can quickly lead to burn-out by the mere fact that they become overwhelmed. It’s also fairly common for students to become bored after the first few years of violin lessons or instruction.
As techniques become more difficult, it’s hard to maintain enthusiasm. The same classical style music and other factors often make continuing music instruction a low priority, and many students rationalize the decision to quit by immersing themselves in some new activity. Therefore, it’s important for educators to know what to look for to avoid burnout, and know how to keep boredom at bay by building effective retention strategies for advancing students.
Signs that Burnout Is Imminent
Your students can’t help but demonstrate signs of burnout, so it’s easy to see if you are looking for it. As a conscientious instructor, making sure that your students stay focused and keep practicing is important, but it’s equally critical to watch for certain behaviors that indicate impending weariness. Some typical actions include:
Gradual loss of enthusiasm—every new idea receives a “take-it-or-leave-it” type response
The student exhibits signs that at-home practice has been abandoned
Frequent disinterest during class or loss of temper over small mistakes
These and similar behaviors are signs that either the student has lost interest, or that his or her practice regime is too intensive. The cause of the problem will dictate the steps you need to take to help your student gain an equal footing, and be able to balance violin practice with their other interests so that progress remains steady and healthy.
You can help your students maintain an even keel so that they’ll want to continue learning the violin for years. Lesson variations that incorporate popular music are a great way to enliven students who feel bored with the usual compositions. But, for your over-zealous students, you’ll need to employ an opposite technique. Rather than look for items that inspire and produce enthusiasm, emphasize learning skills that take time to develop.
For example, you may want to encourage a certain bowing technique, explaining how the mastery of it pertains to a variety of musical applications. Or, you may emphasize the importance of developing intonation, which is a crucial skill for every violinist. These activities slow the pace and help overly eager students pace themselves appropriately so that they won’t experience burnout.
Too Late—I Quit!
These are the words that you never want to hear as an instructor. Although the violin isn’t for everyone, it’s a terrible shame to see a student give up on promising talent or abandon such a wonderful accomplishment just because of burnout. However, once it happens there’s not a whole lot you can do. The best course of action is to simply offer encouragement and hope that the student will eventually decide that there was more to learn and discover with such a versatile, beautiful instrument.
As a music instructor, you live with daily challenges, but the rewards of your profession make them worthwhile. Finding ways to reduce burnout among your students will help you meet your personal goals for success. Plus, you’ll be helping your students succeed better in life by demonstrating in a first-hand way how dedication through a constant, steady application, can produce victory in any field.