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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1
I've been teaching for about 12 years now but I have to say, I have a student that I think is the most talented student I have ever had. This kid is blowing my mind. I can't give him too much stuff. He's like a sponge.

I had him in a group lesson for all of 4th grade which was way too slow for him. He's was bored to tears. So finally I convinced his parents to do private lessons. Week one I gave him 12 major scales to learn. He asked how many to do and I said as many as you can in a week. He came back the next week with all 12 learned. Not only learned but he could play them wicked fast.

Next I gave him major triads around the circle of fifths. He came back playing them at around 300 perfectly.

Next I gave him 12 blues scale and he learned all those in a week. I put on random songs on my ipod and he could figure out what blues scale went with the songs in two notes. Not only that but he was going off on the blues scale. Bending notes and vibrato and killin' it!

Next I gave him a blues in Bb. He memorized it and came back the next week whaling on it. Hitting all the chords and really emotional. Growling and bending notes.

Up to this time he is was fifth grade. The rest of fifth grade he learned all his chords. Every week he would learn them in every key.

In 6th grade, I started out the year with two Charlie Parker solos thinking what the heck........lets see what he can do. He came back the next week playing them by memory. Not only that but we played a blues in another key and he was quoting from the Parker solos in the other key.

I showed him how to growl and he did it within seconds. I showed him an altissimo A and before I could show him the fingering he pushed random keys made a funny face and belted on an A. We were trading 2's and he copied what I was doing without knowing even the fingerings of the notes.

I asked him how he learns so fast and he said he just hears it in his mind and then his fingers find it. I've had other students that could do that but this student does it so fast!

Last week, I started teaching him the dominant bebop scale. He came back today and I put on random tracks. He immediately figured out the key and could play the scales in 16th notes up and down and all over. I gave him some of my bebop links and within 15 minutes he was playing 7 of them and connecting them together all over the place. I told him to learn them in all 12 keys. I haven't given him anything he hasn't been able to do yet.

He also has memorized every standard I've given him so far. I think it's like 5 or 6.

That's pretty scary for half way through 6th grade.

I love teaching this student. It's the best hour of my week.
 

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He sounds like a trouble maker to me. :)
 

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Do you think that his being so good might lead him to get bored and stop music altogether? And I say that in a completely curious, respectful way and I hope you don't get offended because he is your student.

And he should pick up clarinet in the future. I would like to hear how he handles that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Do you think that his being so good might lead him to get bored and stop music altogether? And I say that in a completely curious, respectful way and I hope you don't get offended because he is your student.

And he should pick up clarinet in the future. I would like to hear how he handles that.
I doubt that very much........this is the most excited student I ever had. He's not bored at all. Every lesson he's asking questions and wanting more........
 

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You have to be real careful with these types of students. You can't give them a big head about things or they get cocky and think they can slack off and still kick *** on it.

What would be REALLY amazing is if he didn't really practice all that much. Didn't Brubeck talk about Desmond in that matter? That he never really practiced. That kind of thing just blows my mind.

Does he have a Real Book yet? Tell him to pick 2 songs a week from the Real Book, memorize melody, chord progressions (playing them in time), a solo over the changes, and then the melody again. All without any piano, backing tracks, etc. See what he comes up with. It'd be interesting for you to see which two tunes he picks out.

- Saxaholic
 

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Also, Steve, have you thought about giving him 2 lessons a week? If he's learning things so fast maybe try a week or two where you guys have two lessons a week, and see where things go.

I had a student like this once and I ended up teaching her for free; her parents were so poor they could barely afford to rent a saxophone. I ended up giving her reeds, a new mouthpiece, payed for repairs, etc. Such bad home conditions (financially, the parents were good people) and this kid just loved life and music ended up being her life.

- Saxaholic
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You have to be real careful with these types of students. You can't give them a big head about things or they get cocky and think they can slack off and still kick *** on it.

What would be REALLY amazing is if he didn't really practice all that much. Didn't Brubeck talk about Desmond in that matter? That he never really practiced. That kind of thing just blows my mind.

Does he have a Real Book yet? Tell him to pick 2 songs a week from the Real Book, memorize melody, chord progressions (playing them in time), a solo over the changes, and then the melody again. All without any piano, backing tracks, etc. See what he comes up with. It'd be interesting for you to see which two tunes he picks out.

- Saxaholic
He does have a Real Book.......you bring up a good point. He's always apologizing that he isn't practicing as much as he should. He did Scrapple last week and this week he's doing Take 5.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Also, Steve, have you thought about giving him 2 lessons a week? If he's learning things so fast maybe try a week or two where you guys have two lessons a week, and see where things go.

I had a student like this once and I ended up teaching her for free; her parents were so poor they could barely afford to rent a saxophone. I ended up giving her reeds, a new mouthpiece, payed for repairs, etc. Such bad home conditions (financially, the parents were good people) and this kid just loved life and music ended up being her life.

- Saxaholic
Well he was doing group and the half hour and this year hour. I was telling him that he should do 2 hours next year. In all honesty, I feels like he learns as fast as I can teach him. I've never had a student like that before. I asked him if he learns this fast in school and he said he really doesn't that do that great in school............
 

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I say give him so much work it would totally blow your mind if he could complete it all. Just pile it on him. You can't give them the constant success or they get lazy.

If you overload him, he'll practice more, and be all the better for it.

If you overload him, and he DOESN'T practice more, he'll be unable to perform to your satisfaction and it will keep him humble. You can then inform him you did it on purpose.

Tell him you expect Take 5 in all 12 keys, with Desmonds solo on Time Out memorized in at least 6 keys. See how fast his jaw hits the floor.

- Saxaholic
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I say give him so much work it would totally blow your mind if he could complete it all. Just pile it on him. You can't give them the constant success or they get lazy.

If you overload him, he'll practice more, and be all the better for it.

If you overload him, and he DOESN'T practice more, he'll be unable to perform to your satisfaction and it will keep him humble. You can then inform him you did it on purpose.

Tell him you expect Take 5 in all 12 keys, with Desmonds solo on Time Out memorized in at least 6 keys. See how fast his jaw hits the floor.

- Saxaholic
Maybe I'll work my way up to that..........I've been pushing him a little at a time. This kid is pretty sensitive and feels bad even when he nails it. I don't want to make that worse. He does well with encouragement. No big head at all so far. He seems to really just love the music with is so great. I had another kid today tell me he hates jazz and never liked it. "why didn't you tell me that 3 years ago!" I said. Today I gave him a funk tune to work on.......
 

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Oh he's one of those types. Probably the best way to be; they kill it and still humble themselves by being their worst critic. That's how my best student was, too. She would KILL anything I gave her, and say "Sorry I think I was out of tune on that Bb before the bridge" and genuinely feel bad about it, not realizing how great she sounded.

It wasn't until she finally got into high school and started winning every soloist award at every competition that she started to realize she was a really good player. I was hard on her but kept the humor going too and it was a good mix. I think her quote is probably the best I've ever heard: "Teaching and leadership is a combination of fear, respect, and love. If one of them is missing, the full potential will never be realized."

- Saxaholic
 

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I only had one student, ever. But he went on to get his Masters in Performance and a Ph.D in saxophone. I was his first teacher. I was in high school, he in junior high and I taught over summer break one year. I guess I got him started on the right track!:wink:
 

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Wow, he sounds like he has a similar ability to Nigel Hitchcock...
 

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I had a student who was so into jazz I found that I had to practice some of the things I'd give him to make sure I was superior to him the next week. He was in all state jazz band for three years and could smoke over Giant steps in all 12 keys . . .
I think he's med school now.
 

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He learned his major scales in a week? That took me a year.

I need to stay away from sharp objects today now Steve :-(
 

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Is he a good student in academic subjects in school, too?
 

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Thanks. Sometimes when scanning, you miss small details.

I would think that helping him relate music to academic subjects would do him some good, too. Balance is a good thing.

It is scary to have a really, really talented student. Fortunately, I usually turn my talented students over to someone with more talent than myself.
 
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