One of my first students was Devon.
Devon hated to practice. But he enjoyed playing the violin and enjoyed his lessons with me. We spent as much time talking and laughing together as we did playing.
Each lesson, Devon would show up not having practiced any of the exercises or songs we worked on in the previous lesson. I would give him the standard talk about how important was to practice at home and he would agree and re-commit himself to practicing that week.
But, it never happened. Some days, I wanted to ‘fire’ Devon because I would feel frustrated about his inability to practice between lessons.
Then I started to create other opportunities to play — jams at local restaurants and pubs, and summer fiddle camps. And he would always be there enthusiastically playing.
Slowly, but surely, Devon kept getting better and better. Now Devon is off at college and continues to play his violin. When he returns home for the summer, he takes part in summer fiddle camps as a counselor. And he is always looking to take part in any music jams that are happening.
Not only is Devon a strong fiddler, but he’s a great teacher and mentor to kids and a fun addition to any jam. He is the one that remembers how every tune starts (not a small problem for many fiddlers).
As it turns out, Devon was simply too social to enjoy practicing music on his own. But if there were others playing around him, he’d be the last one to put his fiddle down.
I still want my students to practice. But, as long as they enjoy their lessons, I am no longer tempted to fire students if they don’t practice.