An outstanding collection of insight from reddit user lnri137. Here’s an excerpt:
You got A’s because you studied or because the classes were easy. You got a B probably because you were so used to understanding things that you didn’t know how to deal with something that didn’t come so easily. I’m guessing that early on you built the cognitive and intellectual tools to rapidly acquire and process new information, but that you’ve relied on those tools so much you never really developed a good set of tools for what to do when those failed. This is what happened to me, but I didn’t figure it out until after I got crushed by my first semester of college. I need to ask you, has anyone ever taken the time to teach you how to study? And separately, have you learned how to study on your own in the absence of a teacher or curriculum? These are the most valuable tools you can acquire because they are the tools you will use to develop more powerful and more insightful tools. It only snowballs from there…
This is one of the greatest things I have read in a long time, and something I actually relate to.
I never have had a period in my studies where I haven’t been equal to the challenges that faced me (well, not quite, but more on that in a second), but I’ve always worried what would happen when that day arrives. Most of what I was able to do in high school was with little effort - I memorized easily (and still do) by the time I listen to a lecture and take good notes. Performing on tests was never a challenge. I absorb quickly and retain well. I pretty much built my academic career off of that.
It’s been interesting, then, going into music. Classes like theory and history have been easy, and even my education classes, at least when it comes to written tests and ideas, have never been a challenge. Even quickly learning pitches, and holding onto them, is something I’ve adapted to. And fortunately, when it comes to actually getting in front of a classroom and teaching, I’ve found that I have a good disposition and enjoy working with kids.
But the problems I struggle with are study habits, and finding the motivation and ability to go practice. I did fine for six semesters, freshman through junior year, even as the material grew harder and harder. Towards the end of my junior year it began to show a bit that I didn’t have my practice skills very refined.
And then we hit this year (remember when I said I would get to that thing in a bit? here it is), and some major life changes introduced me to something called depression for the first time. I had absolutely no motivation to leave my room and go practice, and the few times I did find myself in a practice room my poor practicing skills (which can be relatable to studying skills) didn’t exactly help me excel. I managed to pull off a C in my voice lessons, and I’m reasonably certain that was a gif from my instructor (anything lower than a C and it doesn’t count towards degree credit for graduating, since it’s a class within my major). If it wasn’t for the aforementioned skills I had in grasping and retaining information, all of my classes would have been a wash.
So if you’ve stuck with this and read through this far, please please please do your students a favor and help them develop successful studying strategies, and give them opportunities to use and refine them! I think this, more than anything, will benefit them in the long run (the same as teaching students how to learn - closely related, but not quite the same thing). And if you’re a music educator, helping your students build their practicing skills - i.e. giving them targeted areas of music to review, pointing them in the direction you want the music to develop, and holding them accountable for progress outside of the classroom - will not only benefit them if they chose to pursue music, but I believe the skills they build there will be relatable to any field they chose to pursue (perseverance, problem solving, repetition, time management, etc).
Whew. Okay. I’m done.