We live in a culture of now. With the unprecedented speed and convenience of the internet, there isn’t much premium on patience. And when it comes to learning music online, you’ll find sites that pander to our thirst for “instant results” around every corner. Learn piano in just three weeks. Master music theory in an hour. It sounds so enticing.
My twenty-five years of teaching music have revealed two things to me. First, musical aptitude is much more common than we’re led to believe. And second, it’s often latent. I can’t tell you how many students I’ve taught who didn’t seem promising at the start, but who tapped great depths of musicality after six months or a year of steady practicing. It was there all along––it just didn’t show itself right away.
And this is exactly how “instant” online methods come up short. They encourage us to accept a prescribed timeline for learning, ignoring the latency of a student’s potential. People are often “weeded out” in this manner, convinced that if they don’t see progress very soon, they just don’t have what it takes. And what does it take? Time, more than anything else. As a teacher I find nothing sadder than students who give up on themselves before seeing what they can really do. And the worst thing a teacher can do is write off a student’s aptitude from the first lesson.
It comes down to this: if you want to learn music, assume the aptitude is there. Take that as a given, and let the rest take time.
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