If you do a lot of teaching as I do, it’s such an important thing to be able to “tune in” to what your student happens to be all about. This is easier said than done in many ways, since we can have so many pupils, and they can vary so much in their “makeup.” This also means that the ways in which they happen to learn can vary greatly, too. Some players, even though they are quite advanced, may learn in very “roundabout” ways, that can tend to “trip up” the teacher. They may have too much of a process of learning that involves needing to almost “over-analyze” what you are telling them, as opposed to immediately “getting it!” It’s okay, because the eventually do learn it, but they had to come about it from a whole different direction than you did. This is only normal, since they also must learn to “tune in” to YOU, as their teacher, and that give and take between you both is so important!
This ability to “read” a student is very much like our need to “read” another player in a band or group playing situation. The signs we must look for, in communication, as well as with our ears are very subtle, and of course, are different with each human being we encounter. I know that from my own experience, I enjoy trying to pace myself a lot more with students these days, even if someone is a very fast-paced learner. The mistake I can make is to be too “caught up” in their tempo of learning, and end up literally “breathless” as I try to keep up with them in their lightning fast absorption of what I need to show them. Invariably, when this sort of thing occurs, there can be many subtle, small points that can be missed, and these points are really critical to the success, musically of what we are teaching.
That’s why I also try to look for the correct subtleties in what a student has, such as his or her proper intonation, bending intonation, vibrato expression, and so much more. It’[s those little things that are “tip offs” to me as to what that student really can or can’t hear, and what they may need to work on. So, be sure, as a student or as a teacher to always know what to zero in on with your teacher or student, and the entire experience will be just that much more rewarding, and you’ll both want to come back for more!