To help beginning students of all ages relax into the learning process, I will ask them to tell me about something they are good at. Whether it’s athletics, dance, playing an instrument, or getting a high score on their favorite video game, every student has an area of expertise.
If Suzy says “I’m really good at knitting,” I would ask her what kind of things she knits, how long she’s been knitting, who taught her how, etc.
Then I say something like: “I don’t know how to knit. If you gave me the yarn and the knitting needles and demonstrated for me how to knit a sweater, would the sweater I knitted look like the one you could knit?”
Of course Suzy will answer no and when I ask her “Why not?” she may say something like “It takes lots of practice,” or “I’ve been doing it longer.”
Suzy knows that understanding something mentally and being able to do it physically are not the same thing. Suzy has developed her knitting skills over time and would not expect a beginner to produce the same quality of work that she is capable of.
I explain that learning to sing well is a similar skill building process and with patience and correct repetition over time she will see wonderful results.
Now Suzy can relax and enjoy learning because she knows that I do not expect instant mastery from her just as she would not expect it of me. This is also a nice way to get to know each student better. It’s fun to see them light up as they speak about an area they feel confident in.