Higher! Faster! Louder! Sooner! Now!
One of the selling points of music study is – or used to be – that it teaches disciplined hard work over a long period of time. But in this age of instant gratification (and everything else), patience for the process is becoming an endangered species of character traits.
High school instrumental competitions are a primary example and catalyst for this trend. Instead of working on developing solid fundamental skills, ever-younger players (and probably even more so, their parents) insist on working on contest materials nearly exclusively. All-State is All. Horn teachers are under pressure to work on solos that are several quantum levels beyond the current technical (and even more levels musically) ability. Players work on contest pieces that they wish they could play rather than what they actually can play. The thinking (?) appears to be “I’m working on a really difficult piece, so I must be really good.”
The results are frequently stress, development of bad habits (when in doubt, force it!), and demonstration in performance of what they can’t do.
There are no easy answers to ameliorate this endemic cultural condition, unless they do away with such competitions or develop a Patience Vaccine. I’ll list some ideas that have worked for me to some degree or other over the years, in the hope that it will inspire other teachers to contribute comments on what has worked for them for similar situations.