After reflecting on Dr. Robert Duke’s approach to sequencing, I realized the reason my students tend to move through Book 1 with ease. I start every private lesson from scratch.
Every Book 1 lesson in my studio looks like this…
– Unpack, tune
– Play the watching game and bow
– Establish perfect playing position posture
– Play every review piece (address problems or integrate new skills through review)
– With time left over take the next sequential steps toward our targets
In several of my lessons each week we don’t even reach a new sequential step because somewhere in our lesson time must be spent addressing a previous sequential step that should have been mastered, but isn’t.
This is precisely the point.
We don’t move forward with new skills if our foundation isn’t set, isn’t perfect. And because I am routinely and meticulously doing quality checks on that foundation, we don’t spend time in lessons leaping backward.
The elements of playing that are important to me — preparation, focus, balance, relaxation, perfect intonation, precise bowing, resonant tone — are obvious to my students. I require them at every step in our lesson. We don’t move forward unless these important elements are in place, and so they become important to my students. My standards become our standards. With those clear standards, a discerning ear, identified goals, and a tried and true routine to employ at home my students develop rapidly.
Skill building always comes from repetition (this is nothing new). And by structuring my lessons in this way I show them, train them, ingrain in them, the value of repetition. It is not just the new skill that I coach, but the mastery of it through exhaustive repetition of the skill sequence. Progress is inevitable when attention is shifted from skill to the sequence of building it. And the most profound way to direct attention to sequence is by structuring every lesson as one.