Joe's Blog


March 1, 2017

Originally posted on Facebook on 2.27.16

The duration in time between when a student makes an error and when the teacher points it out, is not a constant but a variable; a finely tuned variable that is correct for the particular student.

In my lesson with JB (not me) today I found that if I waited about 5 seconds, in most cases she would notice that she had played a wrong note, processed what the mistake was, and correct it. If I hadn’t waited those 5 seconds, and jumped in earlier, I would have derailed the all-important process by which she self corrects. Self correction has the clear advantage of allowing the student to maintain their sense of adequacy and self esteem.

Not waiting those 5 seconds would have taken a situation which, if left alone, would have ended in a very positive way for the student, and cause it to end abruptly with a sense of having be criticized.

If these premature corrections occur too often, the student simply becomes discouraged and ceases trying to notice and correct things by herself. She just plays ahead until she hears the negative feedback of the teacher – until she runs afoul of the teacher.

Only if JB did not notice and correct the problem on her own after her tailor made interval of 5 seconds did I then begin to give feedback. This feedback could just be an a neutrally expressed acknowledgment that something had gone off track. It might also include which hand it happened in. And only as a last result (after more seconds had passed), a specific identification by me of the problem.

Thus today I discovered through trial and error that JB’s self-correction “constant” is about 5 seconds. For each other student I would also gradually discover, again through trial and error, a proper number of seconds for their self-correction time-constant. Some students require more time before the teacher first finds out if the student will self-correct. Some require far less. In some rare cases self-correction occurs almost simultaneously with the mistake. In the rarest case the correction happens ‘before’ the mistake occurs.

Consideration of the this time delay for self-correction will change the entire tenor of a lesson from one that tears down the student’s self confidence and one that builds up the student’s self confidence.


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