In recent times, it seems that every time it is more important to observe the behaviors of the world around us and reflect about the approach of education and its function in nowadays society. In music education and in arts in general, it looks like the impact is very big because new generations look for new needs, fast information and practicality. From my point of view, as teachers or educators we must always be very aware of the new resources and the characteristics of the students we are teaching, as the approach of their education might vary because of this.
As I am very interested in this topic, I found it very interesting to read Characteristics of Generation Z piano students from the point of view of piano teachers (Ömür, 2021). In this article, I found some points with which I could relate and made me reflect even more about the way I adapt to new generations when teaching piano. In the following lines, I will mention the points I find fundamental to talk about, possible problems, their causes or consequences as well as possible solutions for them, inspired by Özlem Ömür’s article and my own teaching and learning experience.
Characteristics of Generation Z piano students
They are temperamental, have a changeable mood and suffer high anxiety levels.
They don’t accept criticism.
They have high self-confidence, but low self awareness. This might seem a contradiction, but it is actually not. If a student is not aware of him/herself, this means that they don’t know about the existence of problems. For this reason, they might feel very self-confident.
They are impatient and goal-oriented, they expect speed in everything and don’t tolerate waiting. This could be a consequence of all the facilities that new technologies give us, such as an incredible speed to get any kind of information. In piano education, the factor is that the student loses the belief in success quickly.
These circumstances are some of the characteristics of Generation Z piano students, which are shown in one way or another during the lessons. From my point of view, parental support is a great and valuable tool which could solve most of the problems in education.
Regarding the problem of impatience, I believe that the best approach is accepting that these students are impatient, but trying to turn this impatience into motivation. Also, having accessible goals is a great tool to keep motivation.
DEPENDENCY ON TECHNOLOGY
There is an unbalance between the flow of digital information and the information in real life, which makes Generation Z students quickly get bored with the works they are playing.
Children start using social media much earlier than in older generations.
They live with technology but they don’t use it efficiently for their studies. They show this with a low curiosity.
They can get information of any kind (good or bad) very fast. The bigger consequence is that these students have a low ability to judge the quality of information. Also, the fact that they can reach this information so fast decreases their imagination and creativity, as there is no room for them in the process of reaching this information.
At first sight, these facts seem very frustrating and difficult to solve. However, all these problems are not a consequence of new technologies. They are a consequence of not using these resources in a more educational and enriching way.
Taking for granted that children already use social media from a very young age, a good way to approach this might be not forbidding it, but using the advantages of it by introducing them to ways to use it in a more healthy way (educational). Moreover, regarding the problem of the decrease of imagination and creativity, these technologies can be used with a creative purpose in the lessons. If students are aware that there are more uses for electronic devices or the internet apart from using social media or playing games, they will see that there is a possibility to also learn from them.
From my point of view, prohibition is a concept that should be used very carefully in education. If I forbid using electronic devices or social media to my students, they will probably separate the concept of “school and education” from the concept of “social media and fun”. But what if I put them together and educate them taking for granted that electronic devices are part of our society?
Students want to achieve everything as fast as possible and have difficulty finding motivation during long term processes.
They prefer applying instead of knowing, as they learn better with trial and error.
They have high visual memory and want to perform multitasking.
They don’t benefit from virtual libraries or online data-bases.
The first and second point are very connected and they are also related to the idea of impatience which was mentioned before. This impatience makes these students want to do everything with great immediacy. That could be the reason why they need to apply first and understand and know after, as understanding and knowing is a longer term process and applying is immediate. From the point of view of a teacher, this situation could be solved, for example, by dividing long term processes in smaller steps. If they do smaller steps or shorter tasks, they will arrive earlier to their goals and feel more rewarded.
On the other hand, there are a lot of benefits that music teachers can take from the fact that students have high visual memory, as this gives the opportunity to use technologies and visuals in the lessons.
According to new research, “the brain is an image archiver, not a words archiver. The part of the brain which is in charge of acquiring new concepts is much smaller than the one in charge of processing images. Words are abstract, but images are easier to retain because they are more concrete.” (Albornoz, 2022)
PROBLEMS IN THEIR STUDY
Difficulty focusing on something for more than one minute.
Problem studying without support.
Difficulty in managing their study time.
They don’t know their own learning methods.
The first point is again related to the impatience and the need to do everything as fast as possible. We see this reflected on the fact that students can’t focus on something for more than a minute. In my personal opinion, it might be very frustrating for a student to force him/her to do long tasks when they have this problem. Then, the solution I would give is dividing the lessons or the study into short tasks and, little by little, make these tasks longer or divide a long task in short steps.
The other three points are strongly connected, as they are problems which could have been avoided if they were not only taught how to play, but also how to study. Teaching how to study can seem a very dense task to learn, but after having mentioned aspects such as “long tasks divided into smaller steps”, “use of new technologies to study and learn”, “use of visuals” and “accessible goals”, it might not look so tough anymore.
Albornoz, A. F. (2022). El Poder De La Imagen Como Herramienta De Aprendizaje. CognosOnline. https://cognosonline.com/co/blog/el-poder-de-la-imagen-como-herramienta-de-aprendizaje/
Ömür, Ö. (2021). Characteristics of Generation Z Piano Students From the Perspective of Piano Teachers. International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies.
Thank you very much for reading!
Do you relate to any of the information of this post? Do you see yourself as a student or teacher? You can let us know in the comments!