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Anne Sullivan taught music theory and ear training at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1982–2002. She teaches harp at the University of Delaware and helps harpists find harp happiness at harpmastery.com. Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a new series that will look at some of the difficult dilemmas, common stumbling blocks, and unique situations harp teachers encounter. Longtime teacher and practicing guru Anne Sullivan will take on different student scenarios in each issue and offer some possible solutions. Email her your questions at anne@harpmastery.com.

Understanding a student’s learning style and how to tailor your teaching to it.

Student Scenario #1

My student won’t focus and pay attention in her practice to things like technique, fingering, and sometimes even the notes or rhythm. How can I help her understand that these details are important to her progress as a harpist and a musician?

Student Scenario #2

I have a student who just can’t seem to gain momentum. She practices with energy and dedication, but it’s weeks before she will put hands together and she resists my attempts to make her learn faster. It’s as if everything has to be perfect before she can go to the next step.  It’s driving me crazy!

Having been a less than focused young student myself, I can relate to the student in the first question and can sympathize with her teacher. My teacher struggled for years to help me develop my critical and observational skills. And as a teacher, I have also experienced the second scenario, trying to help students push forward beyond the limits they impose on themselves.

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Anne Sullivan taught music theory and ear training at the Curis Institute of Music from 1982–2002. She teaches harp at the University of Delaware and helps harpists find harp happiness at
harpmastery.com.

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