What to do when students don't come in with the prepared assignment? This is an excellent question I ask myself because some students really have reasons that make sense. BUT, should this be acceptable on a regular basis or at all?
Again I look at each individual situation. I can see in certain people that they are struggling at some level of playing and life. Playing really is just a microcosm of the person at various levels. Some might need to change aspects of the embouchure. Others, the air support systems and others attitude. What can I do as a teacher to help them? I can't give them a dose of determination really, but I can try to inspire and bring out the best in them that will act as a positive force and give them hope.
There are reasons for things. I know through the course of my life's studies and interests, that a person is very influenced by the environment they are in. Some students for example do play worse in front of the teacher others can play better. In the teacher's 'presence' either energizes the student who can handle more energy or it creates a barrier to some because of the higher standard the teacher comes with. This is important for teachers to understand. It is an energy related matter. Some students do start to play better as the lesson proceeds and they acclimate to the higher criteria. But will they be able to keep it up during the week on their own? That is always a big question, concern and interest of mine.
I look at each student and ask myself, "Where do they put their security?" On a physical level, some really put it on the embouchure, others on a strong air flow. Some, but it is rarer, but it on their musical connection. Others are quite balanced and have a tripod of the three, chops, air and a musical concept of some kind.
So the question is, how are these students practicing? What are they practicing? How do they practice what they practice and what is their threshold before they call it quits or say 'good enough!' Do they know when enough is enough? It is all part of the learning curve and process.
I try to have the student be responsible for their own development knowing that I will be there to help them. The roller coster ride to gaining more command can be a tough one and even tougher for some. I am convinced that the attitude and life outlook can play a huge part in keeping one sane.