The secret to maximizing your lessons

I am now going to share with you the most amazing secret that you will ever hear! The reason that your kid will be more successful than all of the other kids. The way to get more for your money than 98 percent of the other parents do. It is so simple that you will laugh at me and tell me that this is no secret. But, do you employ this method completely already? Remember, if you do, you are probably in that 2 percent so congratulations! Onward to the story.

I have 3 great kids. They are 21, 19 and 16. When they were young, I signed them up for tennis lessons. They all seemed to love the sport so I found the best coaches for each of them and entered into the world of what I call the “tennis shuffle”. Each week, we would pile into the car and drive the short distance to the local club for lessons. We were very lucky that there was a wonderful coach there that taught them the basics very well. Of course, because of the age differences, they were each in a different group so our lessons were not a simple affair. The juggling of each child at three different times and sometimes, different days was not fun. There were many times that dinner (takeout Chinese) was had on the table outside of the court. As time passed and they all began to show more enthusiasm and promise on the court, we outgrew our local club and ventured about 30 minutes away to a different club with other coaches and more advanced lessons. Also, we signed up for multiple times per week for the older kids. Now this is nothing special in terms of how we teach out children. Parents do it all of the time with many different sports, music and arts lessons. But as my children advanced, I often got remarks from other parents like “your kids are getting so good! They must be very talented!” I would thank them but I knew the secret to my three kids success. It wasn’t an unusual talent. They weren’t overly gifted. (Sorry guys, I love you all and think you are the smartest people out there!) So what was the difference between my kids and the others in their group? Simple.

We showed up. Every time. For everything that we paid for. Without exception. Week in, week out, we were there. In a group lesson of 4 children I would be able to count on the fact that at least 2 or three times in a 15 week period, my child would be getting a private lesson for the price of a group. And likely there were usually 2 or 3 students in the session but rarely all four. We received such a better value simply because I would not miss a lesson unless they were way too sick to go. It wasn’t their dedication. It was mine. And because of my dedication, they learned to be dedicated as well.

The benefit of this “showing up” is not just that you get what you pay for and maybe some better attention from your teacher. The value really comes from the consistency of each week being reminded of the proper techniques, the learning of new skills and not forgetting them because too much time has passed between lessons. Think about it. If you are taught any specific skill and then do not repeat it for two weeks, what will your chances of complete memory be? Pretty low, I bet. But the other scenario is that you learn a new skill then are reminded of that skill on a weekly basis, it will sink in and become part of your skill set.

Another danger of inconsistency is learning a skill and practicing it at home incorrectly for a longer period of time. Your teacher has to then break you of a bad habit, which is exponentially harder than coming back in a week to have your error corrected before it has had a chance to become a part of your technique.

As a private violin teacher in the South Florida area, I see this problem frequently. Even my most gifted students will not learn quickly if they begin to skip lessons. SHOW UP. Every week come to your lesson. If you haven’t practiced, do not cancel your lesson. That will just make it even worse. Begin again every week and you will give yourself a leg up from your peers. Why does this matter? Here is the end of the story :

After thousands of hours of lessons, endless driving and massive time spent waiting for my kids, we are now being paid back in the form of incredible college scholarships and all three have used their fine skills to teach others. They are paid handsomely for their knowledge while going through college and high school. This is also a lifelong skill that will be used to enrich their journey as they get older. There is no down side to showing up. My recommendation is to find an interest such as music lessons, a singular sport, art or any other skill that your child can become adept at during childhood. Sign them up and SHOW UP. You will not be disappointed and neither will they.

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