Making comparisons in music lessons

Never compare one student’s test score to another’s. Always measure a child’s progress against her past performance. There will always be a better reader, mathematician, or baseball player. Our goal is to help each student become as special as she can be as an individual – not to be more special than the kid sitting next to her

Rafe Esquith

I remember when I was at school that many of my classmates were often comparing themselves to others, both academically and personally.

I see it a lot with my own younger students – particularly with those who know each other. I sometimes get asked, “which book level is X on” or “what grade is X taking”? (which really means ‘are they ahead of me’).

I suspect there are many other teachers out there who have had exactly the same questions!

As Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy”. Far better to enjoy your own musical journey that worry about what everyone else is doing and get sucked into the comparison trap.

What are your thoughts, though, on making comparisons between students as a teacher? It is an interesting question and such observations could quite easily be done on a subconscious level.

Do you find yourself comparing your own students or do you follow the above quote and only measure against “past performance”? Do you feel that the use of method books or the exam system, for instance, make comparisons more likely?

I would be very interested to hear your responses.

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