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Despondency

MADAME A. PUPIN.
 
Most teachers have one or more pupils in a chronic state of despondency and also some who, perhaps, begin with sufficient energy and enthusiasm, but who lapse into despondency because their lessons require more persistent effort than they had imagined necessary.
 
Some teachers, especially young teachers, find this a very difficult fault to conquer. But if we seek the cause, the remedy will suggest itself. There are several causes for despondency:
 
The pupil is undertaking a task beyond his ability. If one practices faithfully for days and weeks without seeing the slightest progress, who can blame him for being despondent? It would be much better for the teacher to give him a short and easy piece, that he could learn without so much effort; then the feeling of something accomplished gives courage to attempt a little more difficult task.
 
It sometimes happens that this failing comes from the temperament of the pupil, who has not much patience or love of study. In this case, the lessons must be very short, indeed. One teacher, failing in every other way to make a pupil learn his lessons, tried giving lessons of only four measures each. The pupil came with them perfectly learned, tossed his head, and remarked, "Oh! that wasn't anything to do." The teacher gradually increased the length of the lessons; the pupil gained patience, and finally lost his despondency, because he had learned how to work.
 
Very often, however, this failing comes from a habit of practicing carelessly in the beginning, of allowing oneself to play wrong notes, paying no attention to the fingering; and therefore subsequent practice is a desperate effort to correct faults that never should have been made. When such a student becomes despondent over a piece, it is better to give up that piece and begin on another, and play everything—notes, fingering, and time—right the first time, the second time, and every time. The pupil who makes haste slowly succeeds where others fail.

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