Obstacle Sneezes

These sneezes occur at tricky points in the music. Students will pause (sometimes for a long time) and then launch forward, resolutely, into the difficult spot.

Obstacle Sneezes: Edge Forward

Tiny increments are the best way to cure tricky bits. Some students naturally figure this out but those with Obstacle Sneezes may need to be walked through the process.


  • Mark the obstacle that’s causing the sneeze.
  • Ask your student to play the preceding bar (measure) and just one note of the obstacle.
  • When she can do this successfully increase to two notes, and so on.
  • Once she can play through to the other side of the obstacle, include two bars either side of it, then three, and then go back to the beginning or the start of the section the obstacle is in.
  • Discuss the steps involved in Edge Forward and ask her to explain the process to you so that she can practice in this way at home.

Obstacle Sneezes: Edge Backward

Edge Backward is of course similar to Edge Forward, but it does have a few distinct benefits. This cure is generally best for those students with a technical obstacle, and Edge Forward is better for those with a mental block or hurdle.


  • Mark the obstacle in your student’s music.
  • Ask her to play just the obstacle.
  • When she can play the obstacle well (three times in a row successfully), include the note directly before it.
  • Edge Backward in this way until she is playing at least double the length of the original obstacle.
  • Ask your student to explain the steps involved in Edge Backward several times during the lesson so that she can practice this way at home.