University of Horn Matters Extra: Four Types of Students

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Recently I was pointed toward some resources on teaching that shed light on a topic I intuitively comprehended but had not seen laid out so clearly. It is a topic area not addressed at all in any of the classic horn methods and also very worthy of a brief bonus article in the horn pedagogy series in the University of Horn Matters.

universityHM-logo-improvedx150Essentially there are four types of students when analyzed around the metrics of motivation and skills. They would be:

  • Low motivation/low skills
  • Low motivation/high skills
  • High motivation/low skills
  • High motivation/high skills

Translating this out to horn, in a typical large university horn program there are probably examples of students from all four categories, but the top horn programs try to keep it all focused on the high motivation/high skills student (with perhaps a number of low motivation/high skills students in the mix), and lower level programs may actually have more students present with lowish motivation and/or skills.

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From a teaching standpoint one teacher is not going to be able to effectively serve students from each of those four groups, but you can get close by focusing on the needs of each individual student. It is an overall topic to be very aware of as most people who end up teaching horn were high motivation/high skills students but many of your first students may be low motivation/low skills. And your teachers that you liked the best had down their ways of working with high motivation/high skills students, so those students from other categories will be an additional puzzle for you to learn to work with effectively.

I have heard this said other ways. For example some teachers are great with working with high school students in private lessons but probably would not be good college professors. On the other hand, most of the people who wrote horn method books worked mostly with highly motivated and skilled students. That great, inspirational conservatory level teacher may not be able to effectively teach an average 7th grader just starting private lessons.

It is the type of topic that someone with a good music education degree will have a much better handle on than the average performance major. This is overall one of those topics that most horn teachers learn “on the job” over many years. Awareness is the first step. There are tons of resources out there and I will with that simply let readers give the topic some thought and search out their own further resources and ideas.