Important & Achievable Targets
The teachers select lesson targets (i.e., proximal performance goals) that are technically or musically important. Perhaps the most occluded aspect of the teachers’ decision making is their selection of lesson targets in the moment. Their choices of targets are based not only on the achievability of goals, but also on the goals’ contribution to the musical product. The teachers’ choices evince a reasoning that balances feasibility with importance. More trivial issues, like intermittent, momentary errors, tend to be ignored, whereas more fundamental issues of technical execution and issues of continuity and effective expression of musical ideas are attended to immediately and are pursued assiduously.
Lesson targets are positioned at a level of difficulty that is close enough to the student’s current skill level that the targets are achievable in the short term and change is audible to the student in the moment. When errors in performance require attention, teachers guide error correction successfully. They accomplish this by clearly identifying the underlying fundamental issues that are causing problems and asking students to make adjustments in their playing accordingly. Teachers skillfully limit what they ask students to do in a way that ensures students will be able to make that adjustment in the moment. Because students are able to successfully manage the changes they are asked to make, they hear improvement immediately.