Earlier today I had a student that presents a challenge each week to my ability to explain music concepts without resorting to sarcasm. This is a young person, so I am sure that the student is being sincere with their comments and ‘challenges’.
Adults exhibit some of the same behavioral traits and when we meet at the crossroads I respond with ‘OK’, and say nothing more. I know that adults have better memories of those little moments and eventually the adult student will get big eyes and say; ” So, that’s what we were stuck on when…”
Children, on the other hand, need to be ‘bonked on the head’, so to speak.
Today’s challenge was: ‘I can’t play at 60bpm, it’s too slow’ in response to my suggestion that the student played better at 60bpm instead of the 70bpm that we had just attempted. This is how we determine a player’s personal speed limit. A personal speed limit is the highest speed at which we can play something without mistakes.
Knowing this child’s tendency to need proof, I then set the metronome at the ‘Final’ tempo to be achieved, 122bpm, and directed the student to count off.
Since Mr. I. B. Fast quickly came to the conclusion that his personal speed limit was under 122bpm, I then proceeded to demonstrate my personal speed limit for our song.
I moved the metronome to 150bpm and played the section of the tune flawlessly.
Then I played the section at 180bpm just as flawlessly.
Pressing onward, I moved the metronome to 200bpm whereupon one could notice that my wonderfulness was wearing down and I did not play quite as well as 180bpm. (Frankly, I was surprised I made it as high as 180bpm.)
So, while I am certainly faster than this student, I too have a personal speed limit and I think things were much more clear on a few levels after this demonstration.
By the way, the song was “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and we were working on the Intro. Give it a try at 180bpm one day. It sounds quite silly.