I believe it is important for learning to be guided by one’s own interest and curiosity because the knowledge gained is more substantial and lasting in my opinion. Students will make discoveries which become ‘their own,’ so to speak, and are not just so because their teacher said so. Teachers can ‘train’ students—step by step and however long it takes—to play exactly like they do, but I’d rather see my students develop into themselves, through their own initiative and under my guidance.
Naturally, many new students either don’t have a clear idea of what they want to learn, or are in lessons only because their parents thought it would be a good idea, etc. In these cases I am always looking for what makes them curious. I do my best to expose them to as much as possible while looking for things that cause them to start asking questions and taking initiative. Often something will spark their interest and launch them into their own explorations, and the lessons become a completely different experience and much more exciting for the student. I have seen this happen many times, often to parents’ and my own surprise.
Music has been my interest since I was a kid, and I think an important reason I’ve stuck with it is that I was given the space to develop naturally and at my own pace. There were times when it was a casual interest for me, and other times when it was taken seriously, but it was never hammered into me, or accompanied with expectations to the point that it became a chore.
“We don’t work music, we play it!” –Paul McCartney