I have attention issues. My problems stem from my mind constantly racing, resulting in difficulty in focusing. I've been like this since childhood. I've always been able to pick things up quickly or fake them, so it never seemed apparent as a child, so it was never really noticed, or labeled. But as I get older, I've noticed more and more of a problem, and have been able to rationalize it out. Maybe this can help you figure out what might be going on with some your students, music-wise, and figure out what methods you can use to help them.
1. I click out while playing all the time. I can be reading sheet music, and if I know a part well, I just play and start thinking about something else. Then I realize what I'm doing and often have no idea where I am in the music and just stop.
2. I get extremely impatient with sections I'm having problems with. If I'm having a hard time with a passage, it's hard to slow down and focus. So my brain starts going, from why I can't do this to I am so annoyed I can't do this. Then I just go on to something else. There are days I can turn off the chatter in my brain and just focus, and I fix these areas.
3. It's hard to play slowly. Especially if you know how something sounds and you play to keep up with the soundtrack in your head. My hands are racing along with my brain. Along with this has come with problems playing through mistakes. When I mess up I want to start all over to try to make it sound right. This is obviously not a good way to go about learning things, and things start out great and the end is always bad.
4. If I can do something initially, I think I have it and then I move on. This is an issue when playing. I can play something pretty well a few times in a row, think I have it, and move on. Then when it becomes lesson time, I don't have it.
5. I can also look you dead in the eye, listen to you explain something to me, catch a few key phrases here and to make the proper responses to what you're saying, but my mind has wandered so far off I really didn't take it in. So if you explain to me how best to practice something, I only heard chunks and promptly forget. It can get embarrassing asking someone over and over to repeat. (And annoying - I know I hate repeating myself!)
6. If I am super interested in something, the opposite occurs. For example, when reading, if I am reading something fascinating, I won't stop. I've gone through 8-hour marathons of reading, because I'm so wrapped up in it I won't put it down. I won't realize I haven't eaten, or heard the phone ring. But if I have to read something not so interesting, I'll read over it and not comprehend a single thing. Sometimes I'll go through a page or two, my mind will drift, and I have no idea what I just read. This may happen several times in a row. I just lose focus that fast, and I don't even realize it at the time. If I have a piece I'm working on that I happen to like a lot, I will zero in on it and often ignore other assignments or exercises.
7. I often look for the shortest route so I can do something else.
In a nutshell, my mind races so fast sometimes I don't know how it got from one place to another, and it happens in a matter of seconds. It has gone on many years, I've sub-consciously developed coping mechanisms to function normally. Its seems like such a simple fix - clear your head and focus solely on the task at hand. But then you get frustrated because you can't, and that leads to more racing.
The ones with seemingly difficulty sitting still or paying attention will need far more structure in the lesson, perhaps visual ways of showing them how they are doing and what's coming up next.
Morodiene, you hit the nail on the head with this.
This is what I've found to be helpful with me. Obviously with kids you'll have to make it far more entertaining.
- I need clear instruction, and I need to be made to do it a few times (ongoing, not just in one lesson) to make sure I'm doing it, or I haven't slipped into other habits, until it's apparent that I'm doing.
- A clear understanding on where I'm going with something and where it will lead me, so I won't start wondering about that and go on another mental tangent.
- Some sort of structure. Being assigned solid number of reps to do when doing this or that helps. A list of what I need to do and things to cross off is very helpful.
- I had to force myself onto the metronome (it took a looooong time to get myself there!), and it's actually become soothing. It's a distraction, and it makes me follow along.
- Constant activity.
- Head off impatient or frustrating moments when possible. Not always easy to do, but there are situations that could be steered off into different directions.
- I keep a log of what I've worked on every day so I can plainly see when something's been ignored.
I've started making changes in the past 6 months, and it has made a difference.
I hope this can help someone!