2 Types of Students
Some of my music students will naturally wrestle with a new challenge. They’ll go over and over a specific passage until they have a break-through. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue as they doggedly work out the solution in front of me. Sweet victory! These kids have tenacity a.k.a., grit!
And then there’s the other kind. They sit placidly and wait for the answers to be handed to them. If I present something new, they almost always says, “I don’t understand, it’s too hard!” and then give up immediately. When I do give them the answer, they’ll do it once and then say I got it, but then want to move on to something “new.” As I tell all my students, “repetition is the mother of skill,” – Tony Robbins.
The ones who have the tenacity or “grit” as they now call it, have been shown to be the ones who become better students, not only in music but also in almost every aspect of life. There have been studies showing that later success in life is better predicted by emotional qualities such as “grit” than academic scores.
It seems that if we as parents and educators can instill more “grittiness” in our kids, then they’ll be better prepared for the future.
A path to grittiness
So how does Music Lessons develop this quality called grit?
Any repeated practice can be used for building grit. Whether it’s music or sports or juggling.
Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do, “practice?” – George Carlin
It’s about having the long view in mind. It’s the delayed gratification, the working towards a goal and the reward of reaching a high level skill.
The most time-consuming part of my job as a private music teacher is in the selection of music and individualized lessons in which I determine the order of presenting new conceptual ideas to each student. By paying close attention to where each student is in their technical and conceptual development as a musician, I can then place the next “stepping stone” just at the right moment. To far ahead, and I risk losing them – even the tenacious ones. To close, and they’ll complain that it’s too easy or even boring.
By showing each student a path, individualized to their current state, I can guide them forward on this long road to success and life!
Update October 3, 2013
- I wrote another post at my other blog Play Piano For Kids – Teaching Perseverance, Grit, and Success Through Music – where I discuss the aspects of praise and how that affects behavior.
- Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught – NY Times Magazine.
- Just was alerted to this excellent article in the Wall Street Journal – “Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results”
“You have to immerse yourself in a discipline before you create in that discipline. It is built on a foundation of learning the discipline, which is what your music teacher was requiring of you.”