Although often restricted to exam and competition preparation periods, one-on-one coaching offers tremendous benefits to both you and your students no matter when it occurs. A one-on-one experience allows students to create bonds with their teachers that they otherwise might not develop. It’s also a chance for you, as the teacher, to address things you can’t in a group setting. Just one fifteen-minute session can help a student solve a problem and allow her to feel more comfortable in class.
One-on-one coaching is also helpful if you have a student who is self-conscious about an issue. By spending time alone in studio, you can get a good grasp on the issue and take measures to solve it. In a one-on-one setting, students are clear they must focus on what you’re saying and you can see if your corrections are being absorbed and assimilated. It’s also the perfect time to be detailed. Rather than reminding your student to be musical, specify that you want him/her to listen carefully for the beat and rhythm. Be as direct as you can and work concretely with your students so they are fully able to understand you.
If you have a student who is frustrated with an ongoing problem, suggest some one-on-one coaching. During your session consider selecting a code word for the problem. Suggest you use a word like “raspberry” as a reminder for her to focus on the issue and your tips for solving it. When next in class, integrate the code word into your speech: “I had toast with raspberry jam for breakfast.” This will cue them to remember what they’ve learned without putting them on the spot or making them feel uncomfortable in the context of the group.
Some teachers choose to spend time with each of their students, one-on-one, at the beginning of the year. This can aid in establishing rapport, help you assess their abilities and note any problems that might pose challenges. Other teachers prefer to offer one-on-one coaching when specific needs arise. Regardless of how and when you offer it, remember to be clear about your intentions with both your students and their parents. Be positive about the value of the sessions and stress that they are not punishment. Also let parents know that one-on-one attention doesn’t mean that student is more deserving than any other.
Finally, when alone with a student, there are key things to remember in maintaining an open and respectful environment. Always keep your studio door open. Write on the schedule who you are working with, where you’ll be and when you’re meeting. Tell your colleagues and the student’s parents. Be sure to discuss with the student and his/her parents that a one-on-one session will involve physical corrections.
Although it is time consuming to work with multiple students on a one-on-one basis, it is worth it. The benefits your students will reap from the experience will be long lasting and the bond you establish will be invaluable as you work together.