Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Encouragement - A Most Important Factor

Hi Everyone! I want to write about encouragement today. It is such an important factor in learning and in motivation. I think it is often overlooked. Encouragement is even more important than natural talent. It goes along with what I've been saying for years: "It's how much you want to do something, not how much natural talent you have, that makes you successful."

What makes one person stick with something and another give up? I think it is the ability to see past where you are currently, to what you might become. I also think it is having confidence in yourself. Some people are naturally confident, and others need a lot of encouragement to remain confident or to even become confident.

As a teacher, I see this on a daily basis. My role as a teacher is as much about instilling confidence as it is teaching music skills. I can teach until I'm blue in the face, but if you don't think you can do it, or if I can't explain it to you in a way that you can do it, you won't get it. Every student is motivated in a different way, too. That's one of the things that makes teaching such a challenge and so much fun for me. There's not one size that fits all!

How can you help someone who is learning to play music? Be encouraging! And be specific! When a student is working on a particular point, it doesn't really matter if everything else is "up to par." Music is worked out on a point by point basis. For instance: If someone is working on making their banjo rolls even, but the left hand chords are not quite clear, focus your compliments on the evenness of the rolls. When the rolls get even, then the student can work on note clearness.

One more thing -- If you are complimenting kids, remember that behavior is more important than talent. I try to compliment both by saying something like, "You have really improved on this song! You are so talented, but do you know what I really like about you? You are a good person. You are [nice to others, share, etc. whatever you see in this child...]"

Also, compliments that are overheard are especially sweet. Who doesn't love to overhear someone say to someone else "Wow! You should hear the improvement in (insert name)'s playing!"

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