I always tailor my teaching style to the student; flexibility is key to helping someone advance. Some individuals need to be nurtured and shown how to work at every step, while others are more independent. I use the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exam syllabus as a guide to progress and as an incentive, but only if the student responds well to that approach. Some people do not want to take exams which is fine, although, in such instances, I would encourage performing to family, friends and in school settings instead—after all, music is very much about communication. Sometimes, when a student is learning quickly, I might skip an exam level—there is no reason to hold someone back if they are able. That is not to say that I will encourage a student to take an exam if they are not ready. I want my students to have a secure foundation and be confident in achieving a distinction if possible.
On occasion, I have had pupils want to attain a very specific goal. Maybe it is to get to a certain standard for a particular exam. Sometimes they have very poor technical foundations and want guidance. Other times they may have issues of confidence and it is more psychological. Each case is different and requires a different approach to teaching and study.
Parents are encouraged to sit in on lessons. This is essential for younger children as most require help and encouragement in their practising.