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Friday, September 26, 2014

Having trouble fixing students with habitually bad position? Use the force!

Graphic from:

I have one cello student I have been nagging every day for the last few weeks of school.  This student has been holding the bow by just grabbing it in a fist and holding the cello completely sideways...a habit he developed throughout his first year of playing before coming to my school.  During class, I was walking over to this student and fixing his bow and hold and position at least 5 times per day, but as soon as my back would turn, he would just switch to his old poor position.  He told me that he liked to hold his cello and bow HIS way.  I even tried to tape this student's hand to his bow (with his permission).  The frustrating thing for me is that I know he can change!  I told him that all he had to do was decide to fix it...and he would be able to do it right!  That didn't work, either.

Yesterday, I spoke with the student's mother at parent teacher conference and told her about my stubborness....I was determined to fix his position!  Then, inspiration struck...I just needed to use the force!  During the summer I happened to hit Target at the right time and their dollar section was 70% off.  I stocked up on a ton of little Star Wars themed notebooks, pencils, dry erase boards, etc. to use as prizes and incentives for my orchestra class.  I told this student at parent teacher conference that I was going to time him...if he could keep a good bow hold for at least 3 minutes, I would let him pick an awesome Star Wars prize from my box.  This sparked his desire he said, "Let's make it 5 minutes!"  I said "ok" and I told him that after he earned the 5 minute prize, I would then time him to see if he could keep good position for a longer time.

Today as soon as he came to class, he asked me about earning that prize.  He held his bow perfectly all through class  He was determined....and very proud of himself at the end of class when I allowed him to pick a prize. (All this was done in secret...I don't want every student to be begging me for rewards all the time.)  I am so happy for him...I knew he could do it.  And it was totally worth 30 cents.

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